Bluebird vs. GoBank: The Rise of the Non-Bank

by. Robert McGarvey

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -Alpesh Chokshi has a money-saving tip for you, but the big surprise is the source: He is a senior executive with American Express, a card long associated with the well-heeled, but Chokshi’s target is decidedly the 99%. His message goes like this: If you are currently paying checking account fees, there is a cheaper way. A way that may cost you absolutely nothing for all the banking you need. American Express calls its product Bluebird.

He isn’t alone. Steve Streit, CEO of Green Dot, the prepaid card mammoth, has a similar message, because his company recently introduced GoBank, which is squarely aimed at consumers who are fed up with overdraft fees and other dings on their financial well-being.

Probably the most obvious difference between these non-banks, as industry shorthand pegs them, and traditional banks is what happens with an overdraft. Regular banks hit their customers with fees – often $30. Just for declining a check.

Bluebird charges zip. So does GoBank.

Also, both will rake in new customers with histories of bounced checks. “What you did in the past doesn’t matter to us,” said Lewis Goodwin, who heads the Green Dot bank group.

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