American Samoa Finally Gets a Public Bank, and the US States Are Watching
American Samoa is finally getting its own full-service bank, and successfully creating only the second public bank in the United States. The Federal Reserve is allowing the Territorial Bank of American Samoa access to the U.S. payments system nearly two years after the bank applied. The decision is a boon to the remote U.S. territory in the South Pacific, where more than half of the households are at, near or below the federal poverty level. It is also a significant development for those far away from American Samoa. The chartering of a new public bank may provide momentum for similar efforts elsewhere. The only still operating public bank in the U.S., the Bank of North Dakota, was created a century ago. States like New Jersey and cities like Seattle and San Francisco are receptive to the idea of forming new public banks as a way to help the local economy.