Grassroots Effort Causes 650,000 to Transfer funds to Nonprofit Credit Unions in Month before Bank Transfer Day

November 7, 2011; Source: Wall Street JournalIn what has to be one of the biggest consumer actions ever, 650,000 bank customers have transferred their accounts to nonprofit credit unions over the past four weeks leading up to Bank Transfer Day, which was held November 5th (Saturday). Bank Transfer Day was by all accounts a loosely coordinated grass roots effort

While it will be several weeks before there will be anything near an accurate report of the number of accounts that moved on BTD itself, the numbers were clearly significant.

But this article from the Wall Street Journal suggests that some of those big banks may care little about the exodus, since the depositors in question are not big money makers. Their accounts, says the article, tend to be too small, and the number of products purchased too few, to make their business all that profitable—especially since new rules have been put in place to limit some of the surcharges that were previously levied.

But while the assumption is that 7,200 Credit Unions in the country are small potatoes next to the big banks, they serve one in three Americans—or 91 million. Some banks are beginning to make noises about the nonprofit status of credit unions, and the credit unions are lobbying for the ability to make more business loans (the current cap on making such loans is 12.5 percent of assets). This will be an interesting situation to watch.—Ruth McCambridge