Bank Transfer Day largely a nonevent in Gainesville


Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 3:48 p.m.

Those who would stand to gain the most from the Bank Transfer Day movement said it was a nonevent in Gainesville.

Leaders of Gainesville’s largest credit union and largest community bank said they had no noticeable bump in the growth rate of new accounts from the backlash over debit card fees.

Larry Scott, CEO of Campus USA Credit Union, said the credit union had some transfers but not a significant number.

“We always have people joining the credit union,” he said.

Tom Mallini, president and CEO of M&S Bank, said the bank didn’t see a big jump from the movement but has seen more and more people migrating away from big banks for other reasons over the past year and a half.

He said Wells Fargo’s acquisition of Wachovia was one large impetus for transfers in the local market.

“They want to know who they’re doing their banking business with mainly,” he said of customers who have made the switch.

Bank Transfer Day started as a Facebook campaign after Bank of America announced Sept. 29 that it would be charging customers $5 per month for using their debit cards for purchases. The cause was picked up by the Occupy movement.

Bank of America has since scrapped the fee in response to a consumer backlash, and other banks have dropped pilot tests or plans for such fees.

The Credit Union National Association estimated that 650,000 consumers joined credit unions from the time of Bank of America’s original announcement and Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5 -- more than in all of 2010 -- and another 40,000 that day.

Financial experts interviewed by the industry trade publication American Banker questioned how much of that was part of the natural ebb and flow of people joining and leaving financial institutions and whether Bank Transfer Day just accelerated people’s plans to make the move anyway.

The American Banker article quoted Keith Leggett, senor economist at the American Bankers Association, saying that weekly Federal Reserve data have not shown that banks are losing deposits.

Anthony Clark is business editor at the Sun. He can be reached at anthony.clark@gvillesun.com or 352-338-3171.

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