SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – For too many lower-income workers in our region, the costs of living without access to reliable and affordable banking services can add up quickly. Employees without bank accounts must rely on services such as check-cashing businesses, which charge anywhere from 1-10% of a check’s value, or be paid in cash cards, which incur significant fees. According to NerdWallet, being unbanked can cost individuals or households hundreds of dollars each year – and those who are unbanked can least afford the expense.
Goodwill Manasota and Axiom Bank are partnering to lower the barriers to banking services for Goodwill employees who are unbanked and are paid through payroll debit cards. The partnership grew from a meeting of two executives during a Bank On Suncoast Financial Inclusion Summit, spearheaded by United Way Suncoast and attended by representatives of regional organizations interested in learning more about getting their employees connected to checking accounts and on the path to financial stability.
Bank On is a national grassroots movement supported with strategic and financial support from national nonprofit organization the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund. Bank On programs work to connect residents to safe, affordable banking accounts that meet the Bank On National Account Standards.
“People shouldn’t need to pay money to get their paycheck,” said Jonathan Mintz, president and CEO, Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. “Connecting to a safe, affordable bank or credit union account that meets Bank On National Account Standards – like the Axiom Go account – is a critical part of being financially stable, and we are thrilled to support Bank On Suncoast and Goodwill Manasota in this important partnership.”
With the certification, under the Bank On National Account Standards, of its “Axiom Go” digital platform, Axiom Bank is now able to offer human resources departments the ability to get new employees signed up for banking services in a matter of minutes. While there is a $5.99 monthly disclosed fee for these accounts, it is waived if the worker is paid through direct deposit and/or if they use their debit card at least once per statement cycle.
“As long as they’re using the account, there’s no cost at all. We don’t have any obstacles for the customer to overcome,” said Pete Longo, vice president of digital banking and marketing for Axiom Bank. “This partnership is a great fit: it furthers our mission of building greater financial literacy throughout the community and correlates to our core value of making customers’ lives easier. It even allows us to go out and partner with organizations, and bring banking services to areas where we may not even have a bricks-and-mortar branch!”
Longo notes that Axiom Go has a free, built-in personal financial software suite that allows the user to add other bank accounts, track loans and credit card expenditures, create budgets, set life goals, and see their full financial picture through an intuitive interface.
“Working and earning money is just the first step to financial stability; having access to safe, affordable banking is a crucial step in helping people to budget, establish credit, and save for the future,” said Goodwill Manasota vice president Margie Genter. “To be able to speak with new hires, educate them about the value of using banking services, and get them signed up for an account in a matter of minutes is of great mutual benefit – the savings in terms of time and expense will be tremendous.”
Genter said that of the most recent group of new hires onboarded in June, nearly 40% were unbanked. Goodwill is vitally interested in connecting its employees with safe and affordable banking services so they can improve their financial prospects.
Earlier this year, Goodwill Manasota received a grant of $40,000 from the CFE Fund in order to implement the “Bank On” program integration for its more than 700 employees as well as veterans and Job Connection customers served by Goodwill.
By using a reliable and affordable banking product, community members can save more, prepare for crisis, have an entry point for a path to savings, and know their money is safe and insured. Additionally, they can build a credit score, open lines of credit and move toward life goals such as home ownership. In its 2019 scorecard, Prosperity Now noted that 17.8 percent of households in Sarasota County are either unbanked or underbanked.
For more information about Goodwill, call (941) 355-2721 or go to experiencegoodwill.org.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.
About United Way Suncoast
United Way Suncoast serves the people of DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by operating and funding support services and programs to help create a stronger, more vibrant community. United Way Suncoast fights for the education and financial stability of every person in the community through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed and help adults achieve long-term financial stability. United Way Suncoast creates lasting community change by mobilizing the caring people of the communities it serves to give, advocate and volunteer. For more information visit www.unitedwaysuncoast.org.