Upside Down is Right Side Up for Bank Transfer Day Founder

For Bank Transfer Day founder Kristen Christian, everything changed on Sept. 30, 2011.

That day last year, when Bank of America announced that it would implement a $5 monthly fee for debit-card use, caused her to react emphatically. She created an event on Facebook inviting consumers to fight back against bank fees by leaving their bank and joining a credit union on a specific day: Nov. 5, 2011.

She called it Bank Transfer Day.

Backed by millions of consumers, Christian was one of the ordinary Americans who helped convince Bank of America and similar Wall Street banks to call off the fees and over the course of a year helped 2.2 million people realize the economic pleasure of being a credit union member.

“Witnessing so many Americans come together to inform one another and defend the communities we’ve worked so hard to build has restored my faith in what the future holds for our great nation,” Christian wrote in an email. “I’ve never been so proud to be an American.”

Christian will be the first to admit that her life has been turned upside down in the 13 months since creating the Bank Transfer Day Facebook page—and understandably so. A year after the original Bank Transfer Day, more than 57,000 people and counting have signed on.

And it’s not just Occupy activists or dissatisfied students making the change. Christian’s tale of an 80-year-old, self-described Tea Party member from Wisconsin is proof of this fact.

“While riding back home with a friend from LAX, I received a message from [her]. She’d asked her granddaughter to create a Facebook account for her so she could RSVP to the Facebook event and thank me for renewing her faith in American innovation,” Christian wrote. “While we might disagree on other issues, we both believe fervently that our communities are our most valuable resource and deserve our support. I looked up from her message with tears in my eyes as [my friend and I] were passing the Wells Fargo and Bank of America buildings towering over the freeway. I was overcome with fear until I realized that there’s no room for ‘too big to fail’ in a capitalist society, and consumers are done with complacency.”

But Christian’s Bank Transfer Day idea did more than “just” affect consumers. Banks and credit unions were also impacted in a major way. And Christian said she is grateful to have had the opportunity to make such a lasting positive impact on the banking industry.

”I’ve been so proud to see credit unions share the unique implementations of the ‘people helping people’ mission,” she wrote.

A year after Bank Transfer Day finds Christian traveling often, spreading the message that social media advocacy is a powerful tool that any organization has the ability to tap and use. She has also been working with cooperatives to leverage social media strategy as part of an overall marketing campaign that empower members to wear the advocate hat.

“That kind of authentic marketing is priceless,” Christian wrote.

As she contemplates the future of Bank Transfer Day and what its lasting legacy will be, Christian does not see it simply dying out, as many have opined.

“The movement is already spreading overseas with full force,” she wrote as she was preparing to travel to Europe to pay a visit to Skift Bank Dag and Cooperatives United in the days leading up to Nov. 5. “My hope is to inspire young men or women facing injustices to seek positive ways to leave the world better than they found it.”

Christian will certainly have a lot of material to pull from as she continues to impact the world in her own unique way.

As for Bank Transfer Day in the United States, no one knows exactly what the future holds. Its legacy, though, is an entirely different matter as far as Christian is concerned, as she develops the idea beyond its U.S. roots and carries it into the collective consciousness of the rest of the world.

 

Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Business Solutions, Strategic Link.