Bank Transfer Day: Small Protests, Big Changes

Bank Transfer Day: Small Protests, Big Changes
Bank Transfer Day: Small Protests, Big Changes

Did Bank Transfer Day work? Over the weekend, many Americans came out to protest big banks, and while there's no hard data yet to gauge the day's impact, credit unions around the country are reporting a continuing upsurge in interest.

At Redwood Credit Union in Rohnert Park, Calif., on Saturday, the branch parking lot was packed and inside, extra staff were on hand to welcome new customers, according to a Patch report.

"This is definitely not normal for us," branch manager Amy Anahatou told Patch. "With the Occupy Wall Street movement and Bank Transfer Day, we have seen a lot of growth."

In other cities around the country, protesters gathered in front of big banks and in parks to express their frustration with corporate banking, bailouts and foreclosures.

In San Antonio, Texas, around 100 people connected to march downtown to Chase (JPM) and Bank of America (BAC) branches, according to the San Antonio Express. The Chicago Tribune reported that the Windy City suburb of Oak Park saw about 60 people gathered in a march organized by the local chapter. Outside a Bank of America in Newtown, Penn., dozens of retirees and middle-aged residents gathered in general support of the "99%" the local news outlet reported. Patch also reported that homeowners joined dissatisfied banking customers in downtown Walnut Creek, Calif., to protest bank bailouts and foreclosures.

Big commercial banks remain unfazed. On Friday, many of the big banks said they planned to conduct business as usual. And last week, Wells Fargo (WFC) announced its attention to focus on nabbing wealthier customers, opening its first branch of Abbot Downing, a new service aimed at customers with net worths of above $50 million.

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On the original Bank Transfer Day Facebook page, some satisfied bank transferees have been calling for a new movement: Cut Up Your Credit Card Day.

Last week, the Credit Union National Association reported that at least 650,000 new people had joined credit unions across the country since Sept. 29 for a total of $4.5 billion in new deposits. Nearly 50,000 of those new customers were in Texas, the Texas Credit Union League reported, where at least $326 million had moved to Lone Star credit union accounts by November 2.

The national association said Monday it was still compiling updated national numbers in the wake of the weekend's event.

Historically, credit unions have held about 7% of the consumer banking market share in the United States. Mark Wolff, senior vice president of communications for CUNA, said that percentage is likely to rise given the surge in new members over the last six weeks.

In response to an online poll that was posted on Friday, more than 4,850 DailyFinance readers also said they are planning to move or have already moved their money to a community bank or credit union.

"The amount of attention we have had in a short, condensed period of time is unprecedented," CUNA's Wolff said.