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Bank Transfer Day a success?

By David McMillin ·
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Posted: 12 pm ET

According to a survey conducted by the Credit Union National Association, account holders sent a loud message to the banking industry last Saturday: We're out of here, and we're taking our money with us.

Here's a snapshot of what happened at credit unions Saturday, which included responses from 1,110 not-for-profit institutions around the country.

  • 40,000 new credit union members.
  • $80 million in new savings account funds.
  • $90 million in new loans.

Consumers certainly proved a point last weekend, and the movement could have even been called Bank Transfer Month. After the BofA debit fee announcement, consumer frustration with banks reached a boiling point. Credit unions reaped the benefits throughout October, adding an estimated 650,000 members before the big day -- more members than credit unions acquired throughout all of last year.

Bill Cheney, CUNA president and CEO, celebrated the statistics:

Consumers should be given more credit for being smart about what to do with their money. Many obviously did not wait for a specific day, but took the time to make the change to a credit union in a deliberate manner. Consumers made a smarter choice.

I think the numbers are certainly an impressive testament to the power of consumer awareness. However, I don't agree with turning this into a war that pits banks against credit unions. Sure, new bank fees are popping up everywhere, but the banking industry isn't all bad. There are plenty of consumers who have made smart choices at fee-friendly community banks.

Now that Bank Transfer Day has passed, I'm curious to see if the shift will continue. If account holders continue to take action, the banking industry stands to lose a big chunk of business to its not-for-profit counterparts.

What do you think? Do you consider Bank Transfer Day a success? Do you think big banks will take notice of their lost depositors and work to become more consumer-friendly?

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November 10, 2011 at 12:56 pm

If what you wanted to do something good for yourself and for local institutions, then yes, it was a success, and a pretty resounding one.

If what you wanted to do was hurt the big banks, it was a failure, and worse than a failure: it may have actually *helped* them by taking money-losing accounts off their books.

The business model for national banks can no longer make money off a customer who lives paycheck to paycheck, has little to no savings and doesn't use tons of credit. Which describes a lot of us nowadays. Fortunately Credit Unions have a different business model, and they're there to take up the slack.