Michael “Killer Mike” Render has been a strong advocate for investment in Black communities through Black-owned banks and businesses. The rapper-activist has taken his advocacy a notch higher by launching his own digital banking platform for Black and Latinx people.
Last week Thursday, October 8, Killer Mike launched the venture with a seed capital of $3 million, partnering former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover to create Greenwood. The venture hopes to provide more equitable financial services to Black and Latinx people.
Greenwood is named after the historic neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that was also known as “Black Wall Street.” A mob of White Americans destroyed the Greenwood district during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Before it was destroyed, a dollar circulated 36 times before leaving the community, according to CNN.
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“Today, a dollar circulates for 20 days in the white community but only six hours in the Black community,” Killer Mike said of the new venture in a press release. “Moreover, a Black person is twice as likely as a white person to be denied a mortgage. This lack of fairness in the financial system is why we created Greenwood.”
“It’s no secret that traditional banks have failed the Black and Latinx community. We needed to create a new financial platform that understands our history and our needs going forward, a banking platform built by us and for us, a platform that helps us build a stronger future for our communities,” Glover added. “This is our time to take back control of our lives and our financial future. That is why we launched Greenwood, modern banking for the culture.”
Meanwhile, there is already a waiting list for those who want to open a Greenwood account although the bank will begin operations in 2021, Glover told CNN. “I will say we’re in the tens of thousands, he said. “That number is increasing by the day.”
According to Glover, there’s a high rate of online banking among Americans in recent years but not much has been done to reach out to minorities. “There were no digital banking solutions that cater to the African-American or Latinx communities until Greenwood,” Glover said.
Greenwood is a digital bank whose financial services are carried out almost entirely online. Its initial offers include savings and spending accounts along with a black metal debit card for customers who sign up by the end of the year, virtual debit cards, peer-to-peer transfers, mobile check deposits, and free ATM, according to AP.
Other offers include a monthly $10,000 grant to a Black or Latinx small business owner and provision of free meals to families in need. Also, Greenwood plans to make donations to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Goodr, and the NAACP for every card swipe.
“We believe there is an opportunity to continue to super-serve our community by creating a digital bank that maybe the traditional African-American, Latinx banks just don’t understand.
“We certainly know the traditional larger banks don’t understand our community,” Glover told CNN Business. “I believe digital banking is the wave of the future, not just something that’s popular now.”