On Thursday, Feb. 9, Florida's Chief Financial Officer, Jeff Atwater, will hold a press conference to announce the launch of Bank On Florida. This new initiative brings together local financial institutions and community partners to help residents access mainstream financial services and financial education.
The event will be held at St. Petersburg City Hall located at 175 Fifth Street North. The press conference will start at 2:30 p.m.
According to a city news release, Bank On Florida is an asset building and asset preservation initiative of the Florida Prosperity Partnership, a statewide coalition of approximately 150 organizations from all sectors of the community. The goal of this initiative is to create local Bank On programs in all 67 counties within the State of Florida.
Bank On programs help area residents open a bank account, an important step toward financial stability. Residents who have never had an account or have had difficulties in the past will find that many traditional barriers have been reduced or eliminated. These barriers may include minimum balance requirements, difficulties with an account in the past such as unpaid overdraft charges, or lack of a U.S. driver's license or state-issued identification.
According to the release, based on successful models in about 100 cities around the country, Bank On programs hope to increase the financial stability of people living in the area by providing access to bank accounts and financial education. With an account at a bank or credit union, it can be easier to save for the future, manage money, and access credit and lower-interest loans.
St. Petersburg was chosen to launch the stateside program because the first Bank On program within the state originated here. Bank On St. Pete launched in August 2009 and has already opened over 2500 accounts. A joint effort between the city of St. Petersburg, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Project Prosper, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National League of Cities and the Wealth Building
Coalition/Pinellas Prosperity Campaign, Bank On St. Pete partnered with 14 financial institutions representing 40 local banks or credit union branches at its launch, as well as various community non-profit organizations that assist in providing financial education and outreach to enrollees.
In addition to deposit accounts, Bank On Florida will promote accessibility of funds using such banking vehicles as debit and prepaid cards, electronic transfer accounts, and small dollar loan programs. This ease of access plays an important role for many in transitioning from high cost alternative financial services into mainstream banking.
According to Bill Mills, Florida Prosperity Partnership's Director of Strategic Initiatives, "We are encouraging those across the state, without bank accounts, to join the Bank On program in their community. An account at a bank or credit union is an important part of building savings and in turn, building financial stability. The partners in Bank On Florida have worked to offer products, services, and education that will help new account holders build successful and sustainable relationships with financial institutions."
More info can be found at www.BankOnFL.org.