HOUSTON - The movement to support Black-owned banks is getting a major boost. A national online bank is launching this summer aimed at helping Black and Latino communities.
Greenwood will be a digital platform to give Black and Latino communities more access to banking services, home and business loans. It just announced that is has raised $40 million from investors, including Truist, Bank of America, and PNC.
May of 2021 will mark 100 years since the Greenwood massacre, when the Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma was burned to the ground.
From those ashes rose an idea to launch Greenwood, led by civil rights activist Andrew Young, Young's son Bo Young, media mogul Ryan Glover, and rapper and activist Killer Mike.
"Making loans available to consumers, but also to businesses, because we know the impact is wide when that happens and those dollars could go back into the community," said Reese Giddins, Greenwood President and CTO.
Greenwood will offer features such as Apple Pay, virtual debit cards, peer-to-peer transfers, and ATM's, and will partner with exisiting brick and mortar Black-owned banks.
"Our goal is to partner. We can't build this thing on our own. We believe the MBI's have been successsful geographically where they are," said Giddins.
Greenwood's goal is to provide banking and financial education to Black and Latino communties, including filling the void in banking deserts or for people who have faced racism and denials for loans.
"It was based out of, 'Hey, there's a huge problem in the community. Those dollars aren't being recirculated back into our community. There's not advancement," said Giddins.
"Instead of having traditional banking services, you are full with pay day loan centers and check-cashing places, places that are not going to give you a non-predatory rate," said Stephone Coward, co-founder of BankBlackUSA, a resource for comparing banks and services.
Coward says Greenwood will be a welcome resource in helping to create socio and financial equality.
"What we need to do is to capacity-build by having these programs, these MBI programs, where we are having Greenwood partner with them to raise their platform," said Coward.
Greenwood is expected to start opening accounts this summer. 550,000 people are already on a waitlist.
Laurie Vignaud, President and CEO of Black-owned Unity National Bank in Houston tell us, "We hope there may be an opportunity for us to work together in the future....but have not connected to discuss such opportunities. As I’ve shared in the past, it will take a village to address the needs of our underserved communities and we all have a role to play in this worthy effort."