A note from Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance

Last week, Citi unveiled the Citi® ATM Community Network, a new pilot program that will allow more than 300,000 clients of 15 minority-owned banks and credit unions to withdraw cash without surcharge fees at 2,400 Citibank branch ATMs in the United States including those in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

By removing surcharge fees, we reduce transaction costs for clients, expand access and improve convenience. The concept may be simple but the potential impact can be significant.

Take Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union for example, which is one of the Network’s participating credit unions. Based in New York City, Neighborhood Trust serves predominantly Latino immigrant communities in West Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood communities. As a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Neighborhood Trust provides essential financial services to their clients, many of whom are on low incomes. Neighborhood Trust owns one single branch ATM. By participating in the Citi ATM Community Network, Neighborhood Trust is providing its clients with surcharge free access to hundreds of convenient Citibank ATM access points in Manhattan and across New York City.

“Participating in the Citi ATM Community Network will greatly expand access to secure and convenient ATMs for our members. Expanding affordable and trustworthy financial access points is critical for the community and clients we serve.” – Rafael Monge-Portaro, President, Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union

We know through research that easy and affordable access to financial services matters. For instance, the Banking in Color survey – conducted in collaboration with the National Urban League, National Council of La Raza and National CAPACD – examined the ways in which low-income communities of color are accessing mainstream and alternative financial services and products, and the extent to which they are financially engaged. The survey found that across all races and ethnicities, close access to an ATM or a branch was the second most important factor in choosing which financial institution to bank with. In addition, more than 70% of both African American and Latino survey respondents said that withdrawing cash from ATMs for little or no cost was a “very important” factor.

The Citi ATM Community Network enables us to collaborate with community financial institutions in a new way to respond to the needs of their clients, while at the same time strengthening local trusted credit unions and minority-owned banks. When global and local financial institutions collaborate like this, we help build a financial services industry that is more inclusive through broader networks for access and capacity building for community services, leveraging the strengths of both types of institutions.

“We share the same goals as these banks and credit unions to provide access to safe, affordable financial products and service. For these clients, we are reducing costs, expanding access and improving convenience.” – Will Howle, Head of U.S. Retail Banking, Citi

I hope that this will inspire other similar collaborations in the financial sector – everyone benefits as a result.

Organizations participating in the Citi ATM Community Network include:

Continental National Bank (Miami); District Government Employees Federal Credit Union (Washington D.C.); Family Federal Credit Union (Los Angeles); JetStream Federal Credit Union (Miami); Mission National Bank (San Francisco); Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union (New York); Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union (New York); New York University Federal Credit Union (New York); Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union (New York); Quontic Bank (New York); North Jersey Federal Credit Union (New Jersey); Northeast Community Federal Credit Union (San Francisco); Southern California Edison Federal Credit Union (Los Angeles County); University of Southern California Credit Union (Los Angeles); and Self-Help Federal Credit Union (Chicago, San Francisco Bay Area).