The Occupy protest movement may be under pressure from police on its encampments, but a Occupy group in San Francisco insisted it is serious about starting its own credit union to serve the underbanked.
Organizers of the proposed “People’s Reserve Credit Union” said they filed incorporation papers with the California Secretary of State and have had discussions with the California Department of Financial Institutions about a charter to open for business late next year in downtown San Francisco.
A spokeswoman for the California DFI confirmed that agency staffers “have spoken with a People’s Reserve representative regarding the application process.”
A press release issued by Occupy said People’s Reserve would start with 500 members, a $7 million capital goal and offer such services as “micro-loans for the working poor and homeless and subsidized student loans at low interest rates.” Its goal is to provide a financial alternative to the practices of large banks.
Brian Mckeown, a lead organizer of the venture who identifies himself as an “Occupy camper” and who has studied credit union structure, forecast that more of the Occupy groups elsewhere in the U.S are now interested in the San Francisco pilot.
“We’ve heard all over from Wall Street, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania Occupy groups wanting more information from us on how we are doing it,” said Mckeown, who said he has had small business experience and is a graduate of San Francisco State University.
He said he has been encamped with others in a San Francisco plaza for nearly two months, but he has no plans to give up the protest despite a Dec. 7 police raid routing the protesters to a new site. “Our group is not abandoning the credit union or the Occupy mission,” said Mckeown, expressing dismay “that the media has unfortunately stopped paying attention.”
He stressed that once People’s Reserve is formed, it would dispense funds with great care and would follow all due diligence regulations.
He said initial corporate documents, he said, were filed before Thanksgiving with the California Secretary of State’s office.
He said People’s Reserve, which seeks to get paperwork started with DFI in January, is already scouting for leases for its first branch.