The Banking Commons

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At the Global Alliance for Banking on Values meeting I attended in June, I learned about and discussed many concepts. One of them was about the Banking Commons.

My CEO, Tamara Vrooman reflected that she could think of no industry—except for banking—where the liabilities of the companies are partially or, in some cases, entirely, guaranteed by the people through their government. This indicates the there is inherently a social, or at least a common purpose to banks, holding people’s money for a cooperative benefit.

In our meeting, we discussed the need for a Banking Commons, where money is pooled to advance the society we desire. The model that is prevalent instead is a complicated, artificial system that leads to confusion and intense skepticism among the public of banks and bankers. It is a system that abhors sunlight and transparency, a system in which it is impossible to track where a person’s money deposited at the bank is put to use. This is partially because big banks make more money from moving money around via treasury games and complicated financial instruments, rather than being invested in the real economy. Values-based banks lend almost twice as much into the real economy as the Too Big To Fail banks do, according to a study by the Global Alliance.

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