Occupy Cooperative Seeks Almost $1 Million to Start Up
The Occupy Money Cooperative, the financial organization organizers of the Occupy Wall Street protests seek to establish, said it is raising almost $1 million dollars for its initial budget and product.
Organizers announced the cooperative's founding in July, and the revelation that it would begin offering a prepaid card drew initial criticism. But the organizers countered that the prepaid card was the most affordable and easiest financial product to offer lower-income people and said they might be open to starting a credit union later.
In an email message to supporters, organizers said they sought to raise $900,000 starting Tuesday to formally set up the organization and launch the Occupy Card. They also promised transparency.
“The Coop will account for every dollar donated. We will publish full and transparent accounts frequently and regularly,” they said on the organization's website.
As of the morning of its initial announcement, the group had raised just more than $1,000, according to its website.
The budget organizers provided set initial start-up costs at $460,000 and starting costs to launch the card and provide start-up capital at $450,000. The startup costs for the organization included $330,000 for staff and more than $35,000 for rent and utilities on office space.
Organizers reiterated the pledge that the card will carry FDIC insurance, but still have not revealed which bank would issue the card for the group, nor have they shared any details of how the group chose the issuer or whether it has finished that process.
However, while the organizers did not reveal the name of its card issuer, they did share the card's schedule of fees.
While a $5 donation to the group will get supporters a card, the cards themselves will be free, the organizers said, and will cost 99 cents per month unless the cardholder pays an unspecified amount and opts to become a “no monthly charge” member. Second or third cards will cost $1.99 each, according to the schedule.
Direct deposits to the card will be free, but if cardholders deposit cash onto the cards at one of several different retail locations, those locations will charge fees of between $3.74 and $4.95.
Depositing checks to cards instantly will cost cardholders 1% of business or payroll checks and 4% of personal checks, though the organization said cardholders could avoid this fee by agreeing to a seven-day hold on funds deposited from checks.
Accessing money from the card at ATMs will cost $1.95 per use, but there will be no charge for cash back at the point of sale and no costs to use the card with a signature or PIN.
The card will also offer the option of accessing funds by check, but each of these options will carry a fee and the organization suggested finding out if a bill can be paid with the card alone, which remains free.