The Quantipulation Of Bank Transfer Day

An article on GOOD News suggests that “with 5.6 million people and counting, the Move Your Money campaign worked.” According to an analyst quoted in the article:

“if we assume that the average American family has $3,800 in the bank, and we assume that only 300,000 of the 5.6 million people who moved had even that much, that’s more than a billion dollars divested from big banks. In the end, it won’t stop them from chugging along, but it proves that a concerted effort to change the status quo can be worth a lot, literally and figuratively.”

My take: There are a few statements here that might not stand up to scrutiny.

1.To say that the number of people that have switched account is 5.6 million and counting, suggests the “movement” is still active. It’s certainly true that people switch banks everyday, but there’s no evidence that the rate of switching is anywhere near the rate it was in the month leading up to BTD.

2. I’m having a little trouble with the claim that it was the Move Your Money campaign that worked. My understanding is that the MYM was started long before Q3 2011. Attributing the success of the late 2011 switches to this campaign seems disingenuous to me.

3. The comment that a billion dollars divested from big banks is “worth a lot, literally and figuratively” doesn’t hold water. As of the end of September 2011, the 5 largest U.S banks — or what the article despicably calls the “predatory” banks — had a little more than $4 trillion in deposits. A billion dollars is 0.03% of that. Let me put that in perspective for you: As a percentage of my annual salary, I spend more than 0.02% when I take my family out for dinner.  Even if $10 billion came out of the top 5 banks, we’re still not even talking a quarter of one percent of the deposits they have.

Why is this important?

Because credit unions are deluding themselves, and missing the more important picture.

While they obsess over painting large banks as Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated, the $1 billion leaving the big banks pales in comparison to the $30-40 billion leaving the system.

In an Aite Group report that I’ll be publishing next week, I’ll define a segment of consumers I call the Debanked: Mainstream consumers who willingly opt out of the traditional banking system, taking their $30-40 billion with them to alternative financial services providers.

These people aren’t just leaving big banks, they’re leaving all banks and credit unions behind. And these are not disadvantaged, uneducated consumers. They’re highly educated, employed, make decent money, and they’re young.

I don’t have the data to prove it,but I’m betting many of the Debanked aren’t aware of credit unions and the alternative they provide.

CU professionals can go on patting themselves on their backs for a supposed “job well done” regarding Bank Transfer Day (even though most credit unions didn’t actually do anything), but it’s all quantipulation as far as I’m concerned.

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