Some of the founders of the Occupy Wall Street group say they intend to launch an independent financial cooperative and offer a prepaid Visa card that will carry a small monthly fee.
The six-member volunteer board for the new organization, which they have dubbed the Occupy Money Cooperative, includes Carne Ross, a former British diplomat and writer who claims to have launched the Occupy Wall Street group in 2011, and five others with varying degrees of financial and banking experience.
The group has set up a website and says that it is raising funds for the new organization which, it said, will be democratically run but will not be a credit union because, it said, a credit union would have a limited field of membership.
“Credit unions are excellent institutions, and we encourage people to use them,” the group wrote on the website. “Credit union members are usually required to share a common bond, such as locality, geography, profession or any defined affinity. The Occupy Money Cooperative will be national in scope – anyone can become a member.”
The organization has not yet responded to questions about whether it explored adopting an association field of membership or affiliating with an existing credit union in a way that might allow a broad field of membership.
But the group did write on its sight that the organization would offer a prepaid debit card, for a fee, through a relationship with a bank. The site did not reveal which one.
The group will offer a card, according to the website, because a card is a step which can be taken quickly to “fix the inequities in the present financial services system.”
The card will “help end the difficulties of the unbanked and underbanked – who number over 30 million households,” the group wrote, adding: “This is only the beginning. The Coop will expand the variety of products and the range of services that we provide access to once the Occupy Card is successfully launched.”
The organizers said the new card would carry a 99 cents monthly fee and that its interchange stream would help keep organization's other costs low.
The group did not explain how the cooperative would be governed, other than to characterize the governance as “democratic” and it did not say whether or how it would be regulated or how any funds deposited with it might be insured, save through a relationship with an existing bank.
The group did suggest that the prepaid card would carry a Visa logo or would at least be processed on the Visa platform.
“The Occupy Card will be on an innovative platform that is integrated with the Visa platform. Your Occupy Card will be accepted everywhere Visa is,” the group said.