The Restorative Role Today’s Financial Services Sector Can and Should Play
The financial system is the underpinning of stability for our way of life. As we have seen throughout history, whether it was 1929, 1980, 2000, or 2008, the relative financial health of our neighbor is too often determined by the dangerous actions of a few without regard for the many.
As a result, the financial services industry suffers from a serious lack of trust amongst those who it is supposed to put first and serve. We’ve seen this time and time again, most recently through the indefensible practices of Big Banks like Wells Fargo, who put corporate profits over that of their customers’ financial well-being.
One, along with many of the financial technology companies of today, believes that we must first restore the trust of our customers by putting their goals and needs first. We’re committed to doing this through robust transparency, low-to-no-fee products, access to fairly priced credit, and non-predatory lending practices that seek to support rather than extract.
Many fintech companies are helping to equalize the playing field by developing new methods of assessing credit worthiness, democratizing access to low cost investments, and eliminating egregious fees disproportionately affecting those who can afford to pay them the least.
How One’s Financial Services Address the Racial Wealth Gap
Source: Brookings Institution
Note: Net worth refers to the difference between assets and debt for a household head.
While we are only at the beginning of our journey, One is committed to building products and offering services that promote financial well-being for everyONE.
In 2019 a study by the US Federal Reserve found that approximately 22% of Americans were either unbanked or under banked. Of that 22%, the majority are believed to be people of color – 14% of all Black adults and 10% of all Hispanic adults are unbanked.
Black American families are less likely to own homes, have lower net worths, and are paying higher interest rates on borrowed money. As a result, it is harder for Black people to get ahead and stay ahead than their white peers in our economy today.
One is determined to provide financial solutions that help address many of the challenges faced by people of color in the US banking system, including, but not limited to:
- Liquidity + Cash Flow Management: by offering Early Paycheck + free Overdraft Protection, we can help our customers smooth out cash flow throughout the month.
- Building & Repairing Credit: we offer anyone a free way to improve their credit without derogatory credit mark risk which is useful for people with previous bankruptcies/defaults, as well as immigrants and young people who may not have had a chance to build credit yet.
- Re-building Emergency Savings: having money set aside for rainy days is one of the most important things you can do to avoid serious life disruptions due to job loss, illness, and disasters – One incentivizes the automatic behavioral change required to rebuild emergency savings at leading market rates (3.00% APY*).
- Affordable Non-traditional Credit: unlike other lenders, we leverage cash flow underwriting which allows for the extension of credit to be determined not solely based on credit score and supports below market rate APRs (12% APR for One vs. 24.99% APR on typical competitor credit cards).
- Addressing the Intersection of Racial + Climate Justice: according to the NAACP 68% of Black Americans live within 30 miles of a coal fired power plant; One does not invest in the financing of fossil fuels – including but not limited to: oil and gas pipelines or the exploration, mining, or production of coal.
Together, with the feedback from our community, One will continue to bring to market equitable financial solutions for our customers’ every day lives.
One’s Commitment to a More Inclusive and Equitable Financial Ecosystem
One hundred years ago, on May 31st and June 1st, 1921, a violent mob of white residents conspiring with local city officials in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma burned to the ground at least 35 square city blocks through a combination of both on the ground attacks and aerial bombings from private planes. The aftermath was harrowing – in 2001, a commission formed by the state released a report that shows the Tulsa race massacre likely killed hundreds of Black residents and left an estimated 10,000 of them homeless.
The destruction of Black Wall Street as it was known at the time also resulted in the wiping out of an estimated 32 million dollars worth of property and real estate, adjusted for today’s value.
This despicable event is one in a long history of racially motivated violence and hate crimes against the African American community within the United States.
The Tulsa race riots, discriminatory policies in housing known as ‘redlining’, Jim Crow Era ‘Black Codes’, and failures of the GI Bill, are among many other less publicized contributing factors that have amounted to the systematic destruction of Black wealth in our country.
The effects have been lasting and severe. Due to a lack of robust generational wealth transfer like that experienced by white families, today the racial wealth gap between white and Black Americans, as measured by the median family net worth, is larger than at the start of the century.
A More Inclusive and Equitable Financial Ecosystem
We are proud to join the Fintech Equality Coalition and stand with many of our peers in recognizing the need for a more inclusive and equitable financial ecosystem:
- By increasing recruitment, retention, and advancement efforts for Black employees across our respective firms.
- By amplifying the voices of Black financial technology thought leaders across industry groups and forums.
- By engaging Black owned businesses in meaningful business partnerships.
- By increasing access to capital for Black entrepreneurs.
- By ensuring our respective firms’ internal and external business practices are designed with an equity lens.
- By engaging staff members in meaningful on-going discussions on racial inequities within the Black community, with a focus on discussions that build both knowledge and empathy.
- By engaging regulators and policy makers.
- By ensuring the products we build and offer are accessible.
- By increasing representation in our brand and marketing assets.
Together, our promise is to recognize the systemic failings of the current system and broaden equitable access to financial services for all people.
We hope you will join us this month and every month in furthering our work and the work still yet to come of creating a more fair and just experience for every American.
The One team will be away on June 18th in observance of Juneteenth. Our Customer Experience team will have limited availability. There will be no interruption to banking services, transfers or deposits.