Editorial: Bank Transfer Day Will Prove More Pivotal Than Occupy Marches
In honor of Guy Fawkes Day, thousands of people nationwide have taken their own stance of defiance against corporate, commercial banks. While they are not doing anything as drastic as Mr. Fawkes did in 1605 (as in seek to explosively destroy the Parliament building), they will deliver a sizable blow to the big banks, ending their accounts with corporate giants such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo and moving their funds to smaller, more benign credit unions and community banks. Nov. 5, 2011, became National Bank Transfer Day and will be the single most influential action taken by the 99% since the Occupy movement began.
Bank Transfer Day and its following began on Facebook. Kristen Christian, a 27-year old art gallery owner in Los Angeles, created the event, stating on the BTD Facebook page that:
“I started this because I felt like many of you do. I was tired– tired of the fee increases, tired of not being able to access my money when I need to, tired of them using what little money I have to oppress my brothers & sisters. So I stood up. I’ve been shocked at how many people have stood up alongside me. With each person who RSVPs to this event, my heart swells. Me closing my account all on my lonesome wouldn’t have made a difference to these fat cats. But each of YOU standing up with me… they can’t drown out the noise we’ll make.”
Although Christian is independent of both Anonymous and the Occupiers, she aims to represent the 99%, and established BTD as a daring reaction to unjust debit card fees recently imposed on customers by big banks.
This debit card issue started in 2010 when the Federal Reserve capped debit card interchange fees at 21 cents per transaction. To counter this limit, big banks like Bank of America announced that it would charge $5 for every debit transaction. The public outcry was so great that BoA soon announced that it would abandon the plan for the near future.
However, despite the fact that BoA will not enact the $5 fee, their continued practices of exorbitant overage charges have pushed many of the company’s clients to the edge. The same has proven true for customers of JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Even without issuing new fees, big banks still make approximately 19 cents per transaction. The estimated annual profits of the banks are as follows:
-Bank of America: $3,228,480,000 with 59 million debit card transactions
-Wells Fargo: $2,626,560,000 with 48 million transactions
-JP Morgan/Chase: $4,924,800,000 with 90 million transactions
According to ABC News, more than 1 million people moved their money from corporate banks on Saturday alone. In October, 650,000 people joined credit unions, bringing more than $4.5 billion with them and away from corporate banks.
As it stands, the only way big banks will be able to combat that enormous loss of revenue will be to foist more fees upon their remaining customers. However, while they may succeed in compensating for their losses, big banks will not truly solve anything. It appears as if they have not even paid attention the reasons behind the Occupy movement and Bank Transfer Day. Instead, they’ve decided to continue the vicious cycle of greedy capitalism.
According to the BTD Facebook page, 84,787 people have moved or will move their accounts from big banks to credit unions. Fans of the page have posted defiant declarations of their official severances from institutions such as Bank of America and Chase. The particularly bold have even posted pictures of them cutting up their debit cards or releasing the numbers of their no longer extant accounts.
While Occupy protests and marches have gained strength and notoriety due to their size, Bank Transfer Day will have an equal, if not greater impact due to its principle. BTD followers are finally standing up to the big banks and communicating in a language that BoA and JP Morgan can understand: the language of money.
In severing accounts and moving their money to credit unions, the 99% will damage big banks in a way that marches and Guy Fawkes masks could not. Their weapon of choice is not their voice, but their wallets. In taking their money from corporate banks, they will effectively deprive the monetary giants of their sole nutrient and hopefully bring them back down to size and to reason.