Schwarzenegger urges unbanked Californians to save money

12:47, March 10, 2010      

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday urged unbanked Californians to save money so as to ensure financial stability.

"In an economy where many Californians are struggling to provide for their families, I am thrilled to highlight the success of a program designed to put Californians on the path to financial stability," said Schwarzenegger.

He was referring to Bank on California, a program the governor launched two years ago to provide Californians access to resources.

The program has opened over 100,000 accounts one year earlier than expected, said the governor.

Bank on California is the nation's first statewide initiative to help unbanked Californians -- residents without checking or savings accounts -- open starter accounts. In its first year, 110,064 accounts were opened, saving more than 80 million dollars for the previously unbanked.

"California was the first state in the nation to implement a program like this, and already we've reached our goal of opening 100,000 accounts in half the time - saving unbanked Californians millions of dollars. As the program continues to expand, I encourage all Californians who are unbanked to use this program to save money and build their financial security."

Millions of families lack basic financial services such as a checking account -- one in five do not have one and nearly half of California households do not have a savings account. Having a bank account provides access to money-saving financial services such as ATMs, online bill pay and better access to credit -- tools that will allow Californians to keep more of their paycheck, Schwarzenegger said.

In January 2008, Schwarzenegger co-authored an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal with former President Bill Clinton to highlight the unbanked problem and then, in December 2008, formally launched the nation's first statewide program to help unbanked Californians open accounts and gain access to a financial education.

The program began with five cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Fresno and San Jose. Sacramento and Santa Ana joined the program in 2010. The governor partnered with city mayors, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, federal and state regulatory agencies, financial institutions and community groups to achieve the program's goal of opening 100,000 accounts in two years in half the time.

Bank of America offers the starter accounts in all of its California branches -- making this a true statewide program. This public-private partnership boasts more than 39 financial institutions, 192 community organizations and 1,304 coalition members -- all working together to help Californians. The program emphasizes financial education and has offered more than 244 financial education classes serving more than 2,650 people.

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