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[Table] IAmA: Hi, I'm Kristen Christian & I started Bank Transfer Day. AMA!

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Date: 2013-07-26
Link to submission (Has self-text)
Questions Answers
What were some of the greatest challenges you faced when setting up Bank Transfer Day? Did any of the banks retaliate against you personally? The time commitment that was required that first month was a huge challenge. I ended up putting my life completely on hold to give the campaign the effort it deserved. There have been a handful of banking executives who have tried to discredit me, but they haven't gotten very far. There was one side effect I didn't expect— the FBI has apparently added my name to the Selectee List. I can still travel, but I'm scanned, patted, swabbed, searched & interrogated every time I fly.
That is sickening to hear. Meh. I try to keep a sense of humor about it. All you can do.
Well you annoyed the big players in the world, its a shame they have to use such tactics rather than making there companies better. Sadly, I think a sense of entitlement may be preventing these corporations from taking a hard look at how they could be more appealing to the average person.
Think of it as a pre-flight massage. Haha. Next time they pat me down I'm going to mention that I have a kink in my neck that I'd love for them to work on.
They are not entitled to anything, people can vote with their money! But you are right though. The sooner bankers realize that no one is entitled to anything he or she doesn't earn, the sooner they may be able to salvage their organizations' public image. Companies must be mindful of how their actions impact communities if they hope to receive patronage from this new civic-minded generation of consumers.
People are getting more savvy with there money. And people wont stand for any crap these days! I am from the UK and have just found one in my city that i am interested in. Thanks for doing this IAma! I didnt even knew they existed. Glad to hear from an international supporter! If you're in the UK, you may be interested in Cooperative Trust. I've been following their work since Bank Transfer Day, and it's really impressive! James Marshall, the leader of this fantastic group is based in London.
Thank you for answering this (again) I wanted it in the main Thread so everyone can see the answer. I am reviewing my options now. I am very excited to move to a Credit union and take my money away from these greedy banks. You're very welcome! Let me know if you need anything else.
Do you own or have the rights to "Bank Transfer Day?" Who owns or has rights to "Move Your Money?" CUNA owns "Everyday is Bank Transfer Day," but those other pieces? Relatedly, who maintains the Bank Transfer Day social media outlets (e.g. twitter, facebook)? Although I originated the name "Bank Transfer Day" and "Every day is Bank Transfer Day," a credit union league filed for copyright of the latter phrase without my knowledge or permission. I asked that it be turned over to CUNA so that it might be used for a national level campaign, but that never happened. I've never filed for copyright because I wanted this movement to belong to every person who supported it. Attorneys have advised that should anyone else attempt to copyright, there's adequate proof of origination. There are a couple of volunteers help curate content. They've asked to remain nameless due to the threats I've received for my involvement. I remain personally active in the social media channels as well.
Glad to hear your decision to not go the IP route. Do you have plans to formalize any sort of organizational structure? Not in the financial sector. I see access to data as a service Americans desperately need but co-operatives currently can't provide so I'm putting together a steering committee to start a national-level telecommunications co-operative. Anyone who's interested in joining the steering committee can send me a private message via Facebook.
I'm involved in an attempt to mutualize our fiber-based municipal telecom in my hometown. Are you talking about that sort of telecom, or is the aim more at the wireless market? Sort of similar. There are a handful of region-based telecommunications co-ops, but I'd like to see one on the national level to compete with the "big guys." I really like the Phone Co-op's model, and they've been kind enough to offer guidance.
What do you think about the Big Bank's lobbying Congress to remove the non-profit tax exemption from credit unions? If passed, this will crush the credit union's ability to compete against the banks. Check out Link to www.donttaxmycreditunion.org. I've been very supportive of the "#DontTaxMyCU" campaign. I think bankers must have a big brass pair to try for something like this. At the end of the day, our votes put candidates in office; no amount of campaign contributions can do that. They might have money, but 1/3 of all Americans are members of a co-operative... and that number's growing every single day.
What's it like having your first name and last name being remarkably similar? It's actually pretty awesome! People don't seem to easily forget it, telemarketers struggle to pronounce it, and people randomly sing Night Ranger at me.
Is that your married name? Or did your parents choose that combination for you? Please read back through the comments to any of the 100 times I answered this before. Thanks! :)
Why was this removed? has it been moved? I'm not sure why reddit has removed the text for other users. It's still viewable on my screen. Trying to contact moderators now.
Well when you get it figured out please let me know. Looks like they've sorted it. Phew!
Real quick, I currently have Chase, I hate them and get charged on an average of $40 in fees just to bank . How do I find a credit union to move my money to ? I am Queens , NYC I've found that the best resource for finding a credit union in America is A Smarter Choice. If you'd like, you can also comment on the Facebook wall & I'd be glad to ask for personal recommendations from other supporters.
You are super awesome , Thank you. I am looking into the A Smarter Choice now. if needed I have your Facebook added already and will post there (Facebook is how I found out about the AMA ) Glad to hear it! Please don't hesitate to ask if you need any help finding the perfect credit union for you.
Have a "big bank" contacted you and try to change your mind on your cause? I think most bankers were smart enough to know I wasn't going to change my mind or back down. The CEO of a "big bank" did call to apologize for the online behavior of one of his executives. This was after I'd emailed screenshots of the posts and proof of the person's employment to the CEO & members of major media.
Do you have a financial background? If you had a $100,000 in cash and your house was paid for, how would you invest that money? I don't have a background in finance. It seems to me that the three most important services for the next several decades will be food, finance & data access. We're blessed to have great credit unions & food co-operatives, but lack a national-level mobile phone co-operative. I would use the $100,000 to fund such an endeavor.
I don't think you have much of a concept of how little a dent 100k would make on a project like that... I don't think you realize how far I'm capable of stretching a dollar. The entire Bank Transfer Day campaign was run on $10. :)
YAY for credit unions! I used to be the marketing manager for a big single-seg credit union. Loved our members, and loved the credit union philosophy even more. Question for you... how do you feel about the idea that credit unions are starting to act more like 'banks' and the ABA's lobby to start taxing credit unions? In which ways do you feel credit unions are beginning to act more like banks? The efforts to eliminate the tax exemption status are ridiculous, at best. I see it as a last minute (and incredibly desperate) attempt to strong arm consumers into banking with them. If Senate allows this, there will be a lot of lawmakers out of work next election.
How did the experience of orchestrating BTD change you personally? I hardly recognize the person I was two years ago! I've found myself becoming more & more aware of how the simple choices I make can have a significant impact. Being in the public eye has made me appreciate every ounce of privacy I still have. Overall, I feel as if I've found my calling... to promote co-operation both as a business model & a way of life.
Hi Kristen. As you know my company did a lot of quantitative & qualitative research on the impact of Bank Transfer Day. One conclusion reached by both research methods was that many people (even the unhappier ones) ultimately stay with a large bank because the mobile or other technology is simply more advanced there. In your work with credit unions or community banks, what do you advise them about meeting the needs of people-and especially younger people-who want the convenience of advanced digital 'banking' methods? Technology is going to play a huge role in acquiring & keeping members. I recommend that credit unions take advantage of the services many of their great vendor companies offer to provide resources like shared branching, mobile banking, remote check deposit to members. With a completely branchless model, I think PSECU is a great example of the banking model of the future.
The lack of technology, remote deposit and poor shared branching (especially internationally) is what keeps me away from CUs. That's a common misconception. Many credit unions have embraced mobile banking & remote deposit as part of the frills offered. I travel internationally fairly frequently & have yet to have an issue anywhere I've gone.
It's not a "misconception", its my personal experience. Show me a CU that offers the equivalent to BofAs mobile banking app (check deposit, bill pay, xfers, etc) and doesn't require me to be a former military member or something. Off the top of my head, PSECU offers everything you mentioned.
Yep, PSECU does all of that as well as provides your credit score for free each month. Just when I think I can't love PSECU any more...
Which the average person isn't eligible for. I have no relations to higher Ed in PA. This is one of the problems of CUs in my opinion - the requirement to be part of some subset. Banking lobbyists have successfully prevented credit unions from offering small business loans or expanding membership fields beyond the last inclusion of the relative/live/work/worship clause.
Either way - regardless of how it happens. This is one of the reasons CUs don't work for many people. Instead of complaining about the symptom, why not help fix the problem?
Nothing is ever 100% positive. In your opinion, what advantages do the big banks have over the average CU? The only advantage banks seem to have currently is their ability to sway lawmakers through campaign contributions. As for my personal experiences— Banking with BofA was a nightmare, at best. It's been nothing but smooth sailing at my credit union. I have access to more conveniently located ATMs than I had with BofA, lower interest rates on my lines of credit and the profits from my banking business is used to invest in my community. All around win.
So CUs are always better for all people? Come on. I know you are an advocate, but even you can't be so naive as to think that. I believe nearly every American would benefit both for themselves & their communities by joining a credit union.
OK - nearly isn't every. What kind of American wouldn't? I've yet to come across an American who wouldn't benefit from co-operative membership, but if I do meet one I'll let you know.
What is this? A credit union for ants?... Hey, even insects deserve equal access to affordable financial services! Haha.
Do you think that the "Big" banks are starting to get the message, that the power lies with the people, or are they still on a path that is not good for most Americans long term? TRANSLATION: Do they really not give a crap about the average Joe and Jane 6-pack working hard for a living and still scraping by? Link to www.facebook.com. I think "big banks" have heard the message, but I don't think they're ready to admit that their business practices led to the largest consumer shift in American history. Instead of improving the business model, bankers are pressuring Senate to eliminate the tax exemption status of credit unions.
You are more powerful than sarah kerrigan? Quite possibly. If only there was a way to know for sure...
Funny you mention that, the CU's have been running a student loan consolidation through the cuGrad program. You know SoFi is Morgan Stanley right? I met Ian Brady from SoFi at the G8 Summit Innovation Conference. He assured me that the lending was coordinated through donations by alumni, but I will definitely dig further into this.
Very innovative group there, I will send you some info. Also, check your FB for some info I just sent on our Google Hangout series, very exciting interviews planned. Awesome! Will do.
Do I still celebrate Bank Transfer Day if I dont pay any fees to bank? What day is Bank Transfer Day anyway? It wasn't so much the fees themselves that set me into motion, but the principle behind them. To me, the policy was symptomatic of an overall problem within for-profit banking structures. Bank Transfer Day began as a Facebook event & quickly became the largest consumer migration in American history. You can learn more about it on Wikipedia or Facebook.
You don't honestly believe you've changed anything, right? I don't believe that I singlehandedly changed anything. I believe that working together millions of Americans changed a few things. First, their transfers allowed credit unions to continue offering responsible loans with low interest rates to small business owners. Second, these loans combined with how many employees were hired by credit unions, Americans saw the unemployment rate drop. Finally, we illustrated that if a girl with a laptop and $10 can reach millions of Americans then campaign funding is no longer as vital to a candidate as it might have been in previous elections.
I live in the Las Colinas neighborhood of Irving, TX near Dallas. Do you know of any credit unions in my area that would be the best to check out? I am middle class and will use direct deposit several times monthly. I do not own a home or any large assets and usually use online banking. I'm with Chase currently and want to get away from them. My credit is not the best either. I am not really sure where to start or where to find out which credit unions in my area are the best. Any suggestions? I found several credit unions near you on A Smarter Choice, but I'm not personally familiar with any of them. If you'd like, I'd be glad to ask Bank Transfer Day's supporters for a personal recommendation; they're great about that. Just send me a private message via Facebook.
When you first created the Facebook event, the location of the event was listed as "Occupy Wall Street." How important do you think the Occupy movement (which was peaking in OctobeNovember 2011) was to the success of Bank Transfer Day? It's a common misconception that the Facebook event page had listed the location as "Occupy Wall Street." The best answer I can think of is that there were several factions of OWS that created secondary event pages that people may have seen. While I appreciated the support that was received from various groups across the political spectrum, I wish that leaders of groups like OWS hadn't chosen to cause disruption & break laws in the name of Bank Transfer Day.
Now who will step up and create a bank or credit union that has LEED platinum buildings powered by renewable energy that also invests in renewable energy? There will be bike parking and the thermostat will be set to save power (my CU has it at a frigid 73 F and when I asked what they invest in they told me T bills.) ??? are you the one? Speak to your credit union about their energy usage. Start with the branch manager. If he/she doesn't listen, go up the chain of command until someone does. On the off chance no one listens, take it to the next board meeting. You're part owner of your credit union. Speak up.
How mad are you that you parents named you Kristen Christian? Not at all. Besides being memorable, it's a great way to screen telemarketers... they can never pronounce it.
Oh, and it's more than a little satisfying to overhear a FOX reporter practice your name over & over. MUAHAHAHAHA.
Haha, it is very unique! I like it :-) Me too. :)
I have a friend who is thinking about switching from a Credit Union over to Chase because "they're more convenient" with regard to locations and teller hours. What can I do to sway her back to responsible banking? It sounds to me like maybe she didn't choose a credit union that suits her needs. There's a credit union out there for every single person. I bet she'd be happy as a lark if she joins one with shared branching, online/mobile banking & remote check deposit. If she'd like help finding such a credit union, I'm always glad to point consumers in the right direction. Either of you is welcome to send me a private message on Facebook for personalized help.
How do you feel about regional banks -- specifically (if you know of it) Umpqua bank in the Pacific NW? While some smaller banks do invest in their communities in amazing ways, I'm still wary of for-profit banks for a couple of reasons. First, I want to have a say in how my financial institution is run. Unless I'm a shareholder at a bank, I have no say. Secondly, a corporate bank can buy out a community bank without customers even being informed. I believe wholeheartedly that co-operatives are the best option for consumers.
Why was the original bank transfer day on a saturday? November 5th 2011 was just a deadline goal. I chose the date as a goal because it was about a month away when I created the event & Eddie Colla had just sent his icon image of an American flag superimposed over a Guy Fawkes mask. The stars seemed to be aligning, so I went with it.
Some argue that there is no escaping shadow banking. How much impact does moving retail account money into credit unions make on the shadow banking industry? I can't give you a definitive answer, but I will say that I started the campaign with no expectations & a belief that every dollar can make a difference on the local level so I've already far surpassed my own desires for the results of BTD. Every little bit helps.
I used your organization in the advocacy section of my thesis, "Financial Speak: Unmasking the Criminal Discourse of Wall Street." Your work is a big part of the consciousness raising effort needed in finance. Thank you. That's really awesome! How was it received?
Will do. I'm looking forward to continuing our conversation. Same here!
Did you change your name for the publicity value, or are your parents totally unaware? If I was going to pick a "stage name," do you honestly think I'd choose this?
What are your thoughts on Public Banks? There is a few state level legislatures in my state that are keeping the idea a alive in the WA State congress. I think they sound great for state, county, and municipal banking needs. I think they could be of benefit to particular communities and definitely better than a "big bank," but I still believe wholeheartedly that co-operatives are the overall best option.
Did you marry into the name Christian, or did your parents not think through the mouthful that is 'Kristen Christian'? It's my given name. Funny thing is, I never realized how strange my name was until I moved to LA a few years ago & everyone asked if it was fake.
Why use a bank? They are all scum in the end. Use cash or bitcoin as much as possible. A credit union isn't a bank, but rather a not-for-profit member-owned financial co-operative... so each is only as "scummy" as its members.
They still have employees to pay, CEO's still take huge salaries. They are just slightly different than a normal bank. I'm confused. Are you advocating that people not be compensated for their time & labor? The difference between the salaries of CEOs at banks & credit unions is staggering! Check out this CUTimes article.
Wow. You sound like you are trying to do a commercial. That's a great idea! We should do a commercial to reach even more people.
Facepalm. At least you are positive. Have a good day. You too!
Do you have any examples you can point me toward? Off the top of my head, PSECU.
Why did your parents pick a first name so similar to your last? When I was adopted at a young age, my birth name had been "Cristin." My folks decided that the best option would be to change the spelling of my first name to minimize confusion & allow me to keep a part of where I'd come from. Nearly 30 years later, I think they made the right choice. I've come to really love my strange little name.
I am very pleased with your response as most people would ignore such a question but I don't know anything about banking and I was curious. Enjoy your weekend! If someone takes the time to ask a question, surely I can take time to respond. Have a great weekend too!
You are a wonderful person Kristen! When is the next bank transfer day? Thank you! I like to think that everyone is wonderful in their own way. I feel so very blessed to have this experience, but due to the violence perpetuated by groups that supported the first deadline goal, I won't be coordinating another event like the first Bank Transfer Day. I do plan to continue commemorating the original date both publicly & personally. Last year I spent November 5th speaking for Credit Union Legislative Action Committee before returning to the privacy of my hotel room to read letters & posts from supporters. It really is so touching how so many of you take the time to reach out & encourage me along the way. Something like this is too much for one person to take on alone. I really couldn't have done it without each & every single person who lent their time & talent.
I have huge commitments with a bank which include a mortgage for over a hundred thousand dollars. Can a credit union take on that kind of debt or is it just where you deposit money to get around banking service charges? Credit unions offer all of the same services that traditional banks offer. The main differences the average consumer would notice is reduced interest on loans, higher interest on checking/savings, profits from your banking business are put to work in your community and as a member-owner you have a vote in how the institution does business. On the back end that a consumer may not notice, CEOs are typically paid far less and front line staff are paid more than for-profit counterparts. If you have huge account balances or business loans, it could be tricky, but I can put you in touch with your state's league & ask them to help you find a credit union to suit your needs. Just let me know.
Just pick a credit union with branches all over the country. Both Veridian and Collins Community have branches all over Iowa, I assume they're nationwide as well. John Deere is pretty much only in Waterloo / Cedar Falls, I assume that's who you went with? My credit union has a limited number of branches. I like that their focus is specifically on the community that made me the woman I am today. Yet... I can bank anywhere in the country & even have no issues traveling outside of the US because my credit union participates in shared branching.
Cool story broah. Shared branching is pretty cool, huh?
Why do you have two first names? Why don't you?
I'm not special =[ Maybe you just haven't found that special place where your talents & passions meet. Don't stop looking!
[NEFCU 2.5% interest on checking account. ](Link to www.mynefcu.org Credit Unions are the best. They really, really are. How long have you been a member?
Switching to a local credit union is among one of the best decisions I've made in my adult life. I'm so glad to hear that! How has membership changed your life?
I don't believe they do. As a member-owner, you can ask them to! It's made banking so much easier for me.
"... people can vote with their money!" How dare you! You are now subscribed to lifelong mandatory TSA searches. In fairness, it was a bit more complex. The hacker group Anonymous claimed credit for Bank Transfer Day... effectively saying I was a member of Anonymous, which I'm not. I understood being initially investigated & even being put on the list. It bothers me that they haven't figured out yet that I'm not a risk.
Big bank employee checking in. Keep doing what you do. I really do work for the devil. Thanks for stopping by & having a sense of humor. If you ever feel like leaving the dark side... CU Insight posts about credit union jobs.
Just wanted to stop by and say hi Kristen. Bank Transfer Day is an awesome concept, There is something in it for all, regardless of political affiliation. And that the person behind it all, is one special human being who cares! Other than that.. you inspired me to join Reddit today! Hi! Thank you! You're too kind. I think a lot of people care, but just aren't sure what they can actually do to impact positive chance. I'm glad you joined reddit too! It's a great community full of thoughtful people sharing fantastic ideas.
I haven't banked with an evil big bank since I was in high school . . . and I'm not young anymore. ;-) That's great! Have any of your family or friends made the switch because of your recommendation?
No question here, just support and solidarity. I participated in the first Bank Transfer day as a part of my local Occupy encampment, and switching to a local credit union has been a decision I've only been happier for doing! Thank you for your organizing efforts! Thank you! It's been amazing to see how this simple & direct action was appreciated by so many people. There are a lot of things Americans disagree on, but I think the vast majority of us believe that our communities need & deserve our support.
I feel the same way. I feel like a total geek sometimes because if anyone ever asks anything about banks, I effuse wildly about my c.u.. That evangelism is so common amongst co-operative members, but relatively unheard of in any other sector! Kind of makes you feel all warm & fuzzy.
You do realize that the big banks are probably thrilled that they are losing a lot of accounts with small balances. If the "big banks" were thrilled, I doubt they wouldn't have rescinded the new policy two days before the original deadline goal, nor would they now be lashing out by pressuring lawmakers to eliminate the tax exemption stays of credit unions.
Is your middle name Cristian. No. No, it's not.
Quick! Say your name 5 times fast! Okay, but only if you join a credit union. Bribery.
I'm 21 and have no clue what a credit union is! =D. Check out this awesome video explaining the differences between banks & credit unions: CLICK HERE
So glad you could do this, Kristen. There's a lot of misinformation out there, but we're gaining ground! A big 'Thank You' from your friends at Alliance Credit Union in St. Louis... Thank you! I hope everyone at Alliance is having a fantastic day!
2 years ago I saw your Bank transfer day Facebook page and it encouraged me to abandon my crumby BofA account and join a credit union. Huge thanks! No, thank you! Without the support of so many folks, the Facebook event could never have turned into a full-blown movement. I'm so glad to hear you're still happy with your choice!
Last updated: 2013-07-30 14:10 UTC
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