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AMERICAN BANKER Interview – Banking for Formerly Incarcerated

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

The media continues to shine a light on the financial challenges formerly incarcerated people face. American Banker recently published an article focusing on fintech banking solutions that have been developed to address some of these needs.

First Step Alliance was featured as a non-profit organization helping advance financial independence and economic mobility for formerly incarcerated individuals. First Step Alliance is an approved membership association for Diverge, a Proposed Federal Credit Union for the unbanked. It plans to make its financial education programs available to members of the new credit union:

"'One of the cornerstone features (of the new credit union) is financial education and creating a path to long-term financial well-being,' said Nancy Eiden, founder of First Step Alliance, a nonprofit that helps returning individuals achieve financial independence and one of the organizing members of Diverge."

The article also makes reference to the new credit union's intention to accept alternative forms of photo identification when a driver’s license is not available and develop alternative credit scoring metrics to enable more people to qualify for credit products.

While the new charter application for Diverge is in process, First Step Alliance discussed its plan to make available a no-cost, no-minimum checking account through a mobile banking app backed by several large credit unions. The program will allow other forms of ID when opening an account, and include a debit card, direct deposit, early access to paychecks, and 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country. Account holders may be eligible for membership in the new credit union when it is operational.

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