Virginia Community Capital held a mixer for local B-Corporations in Richmond, Virginia earlier this month. The gathering of socially-conscious businesses was held to mark crossing the threshold of 1,000 B Corps across 34 countries. "Everything we do has a social impact," said Virginia Community Capital President and CEO and CDBA Chair Jane Henderson. "All the companies here tonight, we could potentially help them grow and be successful and give back more to their communities. We've got capital to lend, we believe in what they're doing, and we're really here to promote them and grow this organization and have more B-Corps in Virginia."
The Federal Reserve downgraded its outlook for the U.S. economy this year but forged ahead with the phaseout of its signature stimulus program. The nation’s central bank lowered its forecast for growth this year to between 2.1 percent and 2.3 percent, down from its previous prediction of nearly 3 percent. Officials reiterated that they would likely keep interest rates at zero for a "considerable time" after they wrap up their bond purchases later this year. Yellen previously characterized the language as meaning about six months, putting the first rate hike roughly in the middle of next year. But in her session yesterday, she emphasized that the central bank is not locked into a date.
After the massive Target data breach, issuers are bracing for the next hacking crisis -- and the headache of swiftly replacing most of their cards. Belzoni, Mississippi-based BankPlus has adopted instant issuance software called Foxtrot to handle customer and account data conversion. The software automates data entry that otherwise would be manually performed by employees and can issue cards in a fifth of the time. "[I]f we had to replace our cards, we'd be able to replace them quickly," says Janice Smith, vice president and information security officer for BankPlus.
In an interview with Bloomberg Brief, Urban Partnership Bank CEO William Farrow lays out his vision for the bank's future and discusses regulation of community banks: "For community banks, there is a higher cost of tracking and achieving compliance and keeping up with the rules. The last time I looked, the bank had over 70 visits [from regulators since August 2010]... When we assumed the ShoreBank footprint, I started to focus on creating small branches, with the maximum being about 1,500 square feet... We are trying to change to more of a commercial bank structure because we want to create jobs... the retail aspect is a mission because a lot of employees of our customers don’t have banking relationships, and we want to bring them into the banking system."
Carver Bancorp, Inc., the holding company for Carver Federal Savings Bank, has announced the appointment of Isaac Torres as Vice President, Assistant General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. Mr. Torres previously was Assistant Vice President and Assistant Corporate Secretary of MetLife, Inc. "Isaac is a skilled legal professional who comes to Carver with a strong background in both corporate compliance and the financial services industry," said Carver Chair and CEO Deborah Wright. "His experience at a Fortune-50 financial services corporation, along with his work in public finance and community development, make him a strong addition to our senior management team."
More than a million Americans have been effectively blacklisted from big banks because they overdrew their accounts or bounced a check. Regulators say that the banks are using private databases intended to weed out serial fraudsters to screen out potential customers, swelling the ranks of the unbanked. Next week, New York’s attorney general will become the first government authority to take aim at how banks use the databases when they announce that Capital One has agreed to fundamentally change the way it uses the largest database, ChexSystems. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is also monitoring banks' use of the databases.
"Spent: Looking for Change," a new documentary released online by American Express, is a Frontline-style exposé of the high costs of living outside the traditional financial system. The documentary makes its case by following four families who are unbanked or under-banked and must use alternatives like payday lenders, pawn shops and car title lenders. American Express hopes the documentary will initiate a coalition for solving the problems of people forced to use nontraditional financial services. The documentary is also part of American Express's recent push toward providing financial services to the unbanked, which has included the release of their low-cost Bluebird prepaid card.
A guide released by the American Bankers Association contains communications strategies for publicizing housing impact stories, from press releases to social media posts. Among the topics covered in the guide: building relationships with local reporters; sending press contacts complete, concise news releases; issuing media advisories to attract attention for big announcements; submitting op-eds; engaging followers on social media; issuing fact sheets and making good use of photography. One bonus tip overlooked in the guide: Submit your impact stories for inclusion in the CDBA Newsflash.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched a new inquiry into the use of mobile financial services. As part of the inquiry, the Bureau is exploring how mobile technologies are impacting unbanked and underserved consumers with limited access to traditional banking systems. A recent study by the Federal Reserve found that one-third of cell phone users and more than half of smartphone users access their bank or credit union account through their devices. As part of its investigation, the CFPB has issued a request for information seeking comment from any member of the public with experience providing or using mobile financial service products. The comment period will end September 9, 2014.
New real-estate crowdfunding sites offer individuals the chance to invest in everything from large developments to distressed mortgages. Many of the platforms were launched in the wake of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012, which eased restrictions on fundraising by small companies as well as restrictions on advertising investment opportunities to the general public. To date, the sites have raised more than $135 million in debt and equity for real-estate deals. Real estate is proving popular among crowdfunders because it is a tangible asset that people can look at and visit. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently working on new rules that will apply to the small investments.