Some organizers from the Occupy Wall Street movement are setting their sights on a new goal: to help people who have been shut out of the mainstream banking system. Their method of assistance may surprise you, though. It doesn't involve standing outside of banks or petitioning bank executives. Instead, the organizers will be doing what seems to be increasing in popularity. They'll be offering a new low-cost prepaid debit card.
These grassroots activists are typically viewed as a group that screams in the face of everything mainstream, but their new group, the Occupy Money Cooperative, seems to acknowledge that it's impossible to completely ignore the continuing shift toward using plastic to pay for purchases. A video featuring Carne Ross, a member of OCM's board of directors, announces the new Occupy Card. It's a prepaid card that Ross says "could make a real difference to people, particularly those who are most vulnerable in the economy."
"It helps us get back in control of what should be ours -- what should be for our benefit, which is banking," Ross says.
However, no one is going to start applying for the Occupy Card anytime soon. Ross and other volunteers are hoping to raise $900,000 in public donations for setup fees, full-time staff salaries and other essential expenses that will cover the development of the product. They have quite a long way to go, too. Currently, the donation bar stands at just about $6,000.
If the group can hit their funding goal, the Occupy Card does look like it's a good deal for cardholders. However, it's important to point out that plenty of other organizations already have been developing similar products. One of the most notable companies happens to be a massive financial institution that seems to be at odds with the Occupy movement's objectives. JPMorgan Chase & Co. offers the Chase Liquid card, which comes with a $4.95 monthly fee and free cash withdrawals at the bank's huge ATM network. It's also open to anyone 18 or older with valid identification.
What do you think of the card? Will enough unbanked customers donate to help get it off the ground? Or are there already enough low-cost prepaid cards that can appeal to those without traditional banking services?