LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
announced on Thursday that California will be the first state in the United
States to launch an effort to help working Californians without bank accounts
open starter accounts.
The announcement was made in an opinion piece co-authored with former
President Bill Clinton and published in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
The new initiative, called "Bank on California," will help more
low-and-middle-income Californians establish savings, build a credit history,
gain access to lower-cost sources of credit and invest for the future.
"Through 'Bank on California' we will help working families save money by
accessing basic financial services others may take for granted -- putting them
in the financial mainstream," said Schwarzenegger. "This simple, innovative idea
won't cost taxpayers a dime, helps working families get ahead and grows our
economy at the same time."
Americans each year spend 8 billion U.S. dollars for basic financial
services through alternative financial institutions such as check cashing
outlets, payday lenders and pawnshops, according to a new Brookings Institution
This translates into 40,000 dollars over the course of a career for the
average full-time worker. In addition, families without bank accounts may not
have a safe place to keep their money and can become a magnet for crime.
"Bank on California" will be a collaborative voluntary initiative with the
help of financial institutions, city mayors, federal bank regulatory agencies,
and community groups, according to the announcement.
It said over the next few months, the governor's office will take the lead
in bringing together banks and community groups in five to seven markets
statewide and promote public awareness of the effort.
Financial institutions will develop and market starter accounts. Five to
seven city mayors will lead local coalitions and help raise awareness. Community
groups will inform their clients about why they should and how they can open
starter accounts through "Bank on California."
According to the Brookings Institution, 11 percent of California households
do not have a checking account, while 47 percent do not have a savings