Occupy Wall Street Prepares to Launch a Debit Card

Libby Kane
Posted

occupy wall street debit cardMore than two years ago, soon after the August 2011 unemployment numbers came in at 9.1%, gatherings sprung up in major American cities to protest the growing wealth disparity in our country. This movement became known as Occupy Wall Street.

The protests gained momentum for about two months, and introduced “The 99%” into our lexicon. In case your memory is rusty, the percentage refers to the gap between the top 1% of the population—who, in 2012, earned nearly 20% of U.S. household income—and everyone else.

Now, the Occupy Wall Street movement is inspiring more than protests: It’s the impetus for a prepaid debit card. The New York Times reports that the card would be intended to serve people who are underbanked, and to make Occupy “a recognized financial services brand.”

While it doesn’t yet exist, the card’s creators—known as the Occupy Money Cooperative—started raising initial capital for the project on September 17, the two-year anniversary of the Occupy movement.

The card, if the creators can raise the $900,000 to bring it to life, would be free to own, but would charge $1.95 to withdraw cash from an ATM and 99 cents to check your balance, among other fees. These fees are not uncommon: Prepaid debit cards, unlike regular debit cards, don’t require a checking account to operate, and instead regularly charge a series of fees from activation fees to inactivity fees to declined transaction fees.

On the whole, the card is considered low-cost for its type and its creators insist they don’t intend to earn revenue.

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Some Occupy Wall Street constituents are against the idea—because they dislike the card’s association with major financial brand Visa or because they don’t feel the card embodies the principles of the original movement.

Meanwhile, the Occupy founders support the effort and say the card offers “low-cost, transparent, high-quality financial services to the 99 percent.” Still, no one should necessarily rush to sign up simply because of the card’s association with the movement. As with any prepaid debit card—and including this one, should it hit the market—make sure you’re aware of all potential fees and costs before you sign on the dotted line.