This fall, roughly 700,000 Americans abandoned their banks and transferred an estimated US $4.5 billion to credit unions. This collective act of protest was inspired by Kristen Christian, a gallery owner from Los Angeles. She devised Bank Transfer Day after being frustrated by her bank’s “outrageous fees to banks for a severe lack of services”. The protest reflected a grown frustration with financial institutions, best demonstrated by the collective outrage at Bank of America’s proposed $5 monthly debit card usage fee (the bank subsequently backed away from this fee).
Regardless of how you feel about banks and credit unions, this is a terrific protest. It’s specific, easily understandable, anybody with a bank account can participate, and it speaks a language the targeted institutions understand: filthy lucre. Admittedly, Bank of America’s assets total US $2.2 trillion, but when an industry loses 700,000 customers, meetings will be taken, and changes may be made.
I mention Bank Transfer Day because it stands in sharp contrast to the murky, apparently leaderless Occupy movement. Bank Transfer Day was started by a specific person, with a specific goal in mind. As I said in my previous post on this topic, specificity matters.
I’m not claiming that the Occupy movement is entirely without merit. As I already wrote, I hope it coalesces into something with a narrower, more achievable purview. And I hope they take lessons from Bank Transfer Day.