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Annoyance Turns Into Action

By: Kari English

Bank Transfer Day started as one person’s Facebook page calling for friends to shift their funds from for-profit banking institutions to not-for-profit credit unions, but it grew into something much bigger. Annoyed by Bank of America’s and other large institutions’ plans to charge debit card users a monthly fee, almost 86,000 people planned to observe Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5 by transferring their accounts away from large, national financial institutions, according to the Facebook page. In response to this customer movement, Bank of America and the others cancelled their plans to charge the fees — but it may have been too little too late.

Even before the official transfer day, the Credit Union National Association said 650,000 consumers had already left banks and opened credit union accounts. CUNA estimated that credit unions added $4.5 billion in new savings accounts in the month prior to Nov. 5. And after Bank Transfer Day, CUNA estimated that more than 40,000 consumers joined credit unions on Nov. 5, based on the results of its survey of 1,100 credit unions nationwide.

The Independent Community Bankers of America believes community banks can also profit from the exodus from large banks and has created its own “Go Local” campaign based on the idea. The ICBA is encouraging bankers to send its online customizable news release to local media, which promotes the investment customers are making in their communities by using a community bank. It is also asking community banks to update their bank and branch information on its community bank locator Web page because traffic on the locator page has increased nearly 500 percent in the month leading up to Bank Transfer Day.

Some banks are proactively campaigning on their own. Pacific Trust Bank, based in Chula Vista, Calif., promoted Bank Transfer Day by offering new customers $60. This is the same fee customers might have paid in one year to use their debit cards had Bank of America followed through with its fee plan.

Lafayette, La.-based MidSouth Bank, N.A., is offering potential customers $5 to bring their big-bank debit cards to the bank. That is the amount per month Bank of America planned to charge customers.

Has your bank seen an increase in new customer accounts? If so, tell me about it via email. In the meantime, read more about Bank Transfer Day by click the links below.

About Bank Transfer Day

Big Banks Respond to outrage

Small Institutions' Response

Kari English is senior editor of BankNews.

Copyright (c) December 2011 by BankNews Media.