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Dozens Of Community Groups Call On Regulators To Reject Blockchain Startup Figure’s Bank Charter Application

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) on Tuesday called upon federal banking regulators to reject a worrisome and inadequate bank charter application recently filed by Figure Bank, NA.

“Any company that wants to provide banking services has to embrace the public responsibilities that come with operating a bank,” NCRC President and CEO Jesse Van Tol said. “Figure has now twice indicated it doesn’t want those responsibilities – just the profit opportunities that come with federal approval. After first asking to operate a bank without deposit insurance, and now re-filing a request with inadequate commitments to meet this proposed bank’s duties under the Community Reinvestment Act, Figure’s leadership team have made clear they are not thinking about the best interests of the communities where their customers live. The OCC should reject this plan.”

NCRC detailed its objections to Figure’s bank charter application in a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) cosigned by Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, Consumer Action, Grounded Solutions Network, and 33 NCRC member groups. The application “is silent about…core issues of honesty, transparency and sustainability,” the letter noted. Figure also proposed that it should only have formal Community Reinvestment Act obligations within the Reno, Nevada, area even though it lends to customers nationwide.

“Federal banking regulators are the public’s first line of defense. They have a duty to protect us from investors who are more interested in lining their own pockets than in helping their customers and communities build wealth,” Van Tol said. “There may well be a place for high-tech, blockchain-based innovation in shaping a more just economic future, but the public servants who guard the gate should be wary of start-ups that do not take their civic and legal duties seriously.”

Figure first sought a federal bank charter in 2020, proposing to take deposits without insuring them. Figure withdrew that application following multi-state litigation, before filing another in December 2021. This revised proposal includes an application for full FDIC deposit insurance but seeks broad exemptions from Community Reinvestment Act obligations and other congressional mandates.

More: Read the NCRC letter opposing Figure’s application

The following organizations signed onto NCRC’s letter:

Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund
Consumer Action
Grounded Solutions Network
Alabama State Conference of NAACP
Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG)
California Reinvestment Coalition
Peoples Opportunity Fund
People’s Self-Help Housing
Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, Inc.
Coalition for Non Profit Housing and Economic Development
Community Reinvestment Alliance of South Florida
Goldenrule Housing & Community Development
Metro North Community Development Corp
NEW URBAN DEVELOPMENT LLC
Real Estate Education And Community Housing Inc.
Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc.
Housing Action Illinois
Universal Housing Solutions CDC
Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Inc.
HomesteadCS
Northwest Indiana Reinvestment Alliance
Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition
Ceres
Michigan Oncology Quality Consortium
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council
Housing Education And Economic Development (HEED)
Devotion USA, Inc.
Fair Finance Watch
Long Island Housing Services, Inc.
Homes on the Hill, CDC
Home Ownership Center if Greater Cincinnati
JOVIS
CASA of Oregon
Southern Dallas Progress Community Development Corporation
TCH Development, Inc
Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council

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The National Community Reinvestment Coalition and its grassroots member organizations create opportunities for people to build wealth. We work with community leaders, policymakers and financial institutions to champion fairness and end discrimination in banking, housing and business. For more, visit www.ncrc.org.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

Complete the form to download the full report: