Civil rights legend Andrew Young and rapper Killer Mike have raised $3 million in seed funding for a digital banking platform for Black and Latinx people and business owners.
The new venture, called Greenwood, has secured the funding from private investors as it seeks to build banking services specifically for underserved people of colour.
Greenwood will work with a partner bank to bring FDIC insured savings and spending accounts. Users will get access to Apple, Samsung, and Android Pay, virtual debit cards, P2P transfers, mobile cheque deposits, and free ATM usage in over 30,000 locations.
The brainchild of former Atlanta mayor Young, Run the Jewels member Killer Mike - AKA Michael Render - and Bounce TV network founder Ryan Glover, Greenwood is named for the prosperous "Black Wall Street," part of the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, during the early 20th Century.
The launch comes as the Black Lives Matter movement forces financial services firms to grapple with their role in America's racial wealth gap. This week, JPMorgan Chase has made a $30 billion commitment to help address wealth inequality through loans, investments and philanthropy.
Says Glover: "It's no secret that traditional banks have failed the Black and Latinx community. We needed to create a new financial platform that understands our history and our needs going forward, a banking platform built by us and for us, a platform that helps us build a stronger future for our communities."
While digital, Greenwood says it plans to work with brick and mortar minority-owned banks to provide deposits to help strengthen historically black banks.
It will also support the community in three ways:
- For every customer sign-up, Greenwood will provide five free meals to a family in need.
- Every swipe of a Greenwood debit card will prompt a donation to UNCF for education, Goodr to feed the hungry, or NAACP to support civil rights.
- And every month, Greenwood will provide a $10,000 grant to a Black or Latinx small business owner that is a Greenwood customer.
Greenwood has brought together an executive team that includes BofA vet Aparicio Giddins and former Green Dot man David Tapscott. Both are Black, a fact noted by Killer Mike, who took the opportunity to take a swipe at Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf, who recently claimed "there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from".