Did you know Bank of America donated around $200 million last year to charitable causes? It sounds impressive, until you find out that that’s 0.02% of deposits. With all the consumer uproar around banks adding new fees, and the huge success Bank Transfer Day had getting people to move their money to a local credit union, it’s clear people want more and better from their banks.
AbleBanking may prove to be just the thing people are seeking: a bank that gives 10-12 times what other banks typically donate, pays its customers higher interest a la ING Direct, and spends no money on offline advertising or branches. The money the company saves on advertising makes it possible to pass funds on to charity and account holders.
Further, AbleBanking allows its customers to direct their donations to any 501c3 non profit of their choosing, rather than a pre-selected group. As AbleBanking’s chief administrator Heather Campion put it in Co.Exist, “Customers know their communities best. We believe they should be able to choose where they want to make a difference, and we’re giving them the dollars to do that.”
How much will AbleBanking donate? $25 right out the gate, given free to customers to donate, then $2.50 of every $1000 kept in account. While that’s still a relatively small .25% of deposits, it’s quite a bit more than the established banks are ponying up, largely, if not entirely, paid for by the fees those banks charge customers.
It’s this sort of clear focus on the customer that other banks would do well to emulate in this changing consumer landscape. People, with the proper incentive, will take their business elsewhere. The no longer sleeping giant of consumer awareness and empowerment is one not to be ignored.
However, questions remain: What portion of the population is willing to forgo physical branches? Will AbleBanking and others make it painless enough to switch that the change averse will move their business there? For those that need a branched bank, will there be a bank like AbleBanking that is values focused? 2012 is ripe for changes on the consumer banking front, who will step forward and lead it?
Readers: What’s your take on the future of banking? What’s going to stick? What needs tinkering? What’s opportunities are being missed?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.