Two years after a group of activists first sat down in Zuccotti Park to start Occupy Wall Street, one branch of the movement that formed as an angry reaction to unfair financial institutions plans to debut its very own Occupy-branded debit card. The New York Times reports on a project called the Occupy Money Cooperative, which has apparently been in the planning stages for some time, and whose goal is to offer financial products to marginalized people who might otherwise not be able to get them. Its first such product would be a cheap, pre-paid, Occupy-branded debit card, offered as an alternative to the often predatory pre-paid debit cards endorsed by the likes of Justin Bieber and the Kardashians.
While many of those pre-paid cards charge exorbitant monthly fees and transaction fees, and generally nickel-and-dime customers to death, the Occupy card plans a minimal fee structure: $1.95 for withdrawals, $.99 to check the balance, $.99 a month. The group started raising funds on Sept. 17, Occupy’s two-year anniversary, and says it needs about $900,000 before it could start offering the cards.
But to make the card work in any realistic way, Occupy Money says it has to partner with a company that basically stands for the opposite of Occupy Wall Street: Visa. A cooperative member, Carne Ross, “said his group had no choice but to do business with that company or a similar one in order to produce a debit card that could be widely accepted.” Well, no choice aside from founding a financial firm that would rival Visa … and thereby become the street they once occupied.