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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Co-operative Visa Card?

October 8, 2013
Marty Heyman
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The Occupy Money Co-operative is getting NY Times coverage as it works its way to actually issuing pre-paid Visa Cards. Drawing smiley-face points from their association with Occupy Wall Street and the Co-operative movement, the initiative paints a comforting picture. I find two things troubling when I go to the Occupy Money Co-op web-site.

First, the frequently asked questions (FAQ) clearly says that the card will, in fact, be issued by a traditional commercial bank. It will be cleared through the normal VISA banking mechanisms. While Occupy Money Co-op will have no direct contract with Visa, "The Occupy Card will be offered through a bank, and so will be FDIC insured." So, somehow, the benefits claimed will be codified in and protected by the contract with "a bank." I wonder why "a bank" and not "a credit union." I further wonder "which bank" ... more to the point ... which of the "too big to fail global financial holding companies?"

The second thing that struck me was that, in spite of all the language of open-ness, transparency, and inclusion, the Web site offers no avenues for interaction or review of the processes and decisions made. Some $900,000 was raised on the strength of the Occupy and Co-op brands and on promises made on values drawn from those dialogs. But the Occupy Money Co-operative already feels like a "Co-op in Name Only" like so many of the credit unions and co-ops run like in-group fiefdoms.

There is scepticism in the blogosphere that this will ever get off the ground. I disagree. I think "a bank" is quite eager to get this launched as an initiative to extract fees, if smaller, from a population not yet contributing to the financiers' cash flow.

As always, my three lira.

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