Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund: American Bankers Association (ABA) Urges Members to Offer Bank On Certified Account

October 19, 2020

We are thrilled to share that today at the American Banker’s Association’s Unconventional Convention, ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols urged their thousands of members to offer a Bank On certified product. As part of this partnership announcement, the ABA notes working with nearly all of the nation’s core service providers to make it easier than ever for thousands of banks to offer Bank On-certified accounts, significantly growing the market of safe and affordable accounts available to residents across the country. Banks and credit unions across the country can explore and apply for Bank On certification at, joining the 60+ institutions that already provide their communities with a certified account.

Additionally, we are excited to share the newly updated Bank On National Account Standards (2021 – 2022). The Standards, which are updated every two years, outline the features of a certifiably safe and affordable account – low monthly cost, no surprise fees such as overdraft or insufficient funds, and the ability to make purchases and pay bills.

The Bank On movement has made enormous strides in recent years. There are now over 60 certified accounts, available at 24,000 branches in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Close to 90 local Bank On coalitions are working to connect residents in their community to safe and affordable Bank On accounts, and are looking for opportunities to do so at scale, including the growth of banking integration programs like Summer Jobs Connect. Bank On’s premise that people need safe, mainstream banking accounts has never been more relevant. Given both financial distress and social distancing constraints, people must be able affordably and reliably to receive remote deposits (including wages, stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and more) and electronically pay their bills. The CFE Fund has been supporting Bank On coalitions across the country in leading the charge to connect their residents to certified accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and federal regulators helped supercharge these efforts by directing the public right to them.

Today, our partners at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released their new report, How America Banks: Household Use of Banking and Financial Services, along with a new #GetBanked campaign. Thanks in part to the Bank On movement, the national unbanked rate dropped to 5.4% in 2019, from 6.5% in 2017. We are delighted with the expansion of banking access that this rate represents, but we also know that millions of people still remain outside of the financial mainstream – with Black people 5.5 times as likely and Hispanic people 4.9 times more likely than white people to be unbanked. Being banked is a fundamental component of financial stability, and has a critical impact on broader societal inequalities. Additionally, we also know that there is a strong connection between banking access and growing unemployment; the staggering job losses after the FDIC survey during the COVID-19 pandemic likely will have a notable negative impact on reported banking access rates. Part of bringing more people into the mainstream financial system means offering products that meet their needs – we know that the Bank On movement has a critical role to play.  

We are proud to partner with Bank On coalitions, the ABA, the FDIC, and financial institutions across the country to expand banking access and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to open a safe and affordable account.