US-based challenger bank Greenwood has raised $3 million in seed funding from private investors to launch the first digital banking platform for Black and Latinx people and business owners.
Greenwood was founded by civil rights legend and former Atlanta mayor and ambassador to the United Nations Andrew J Young, and Michael Render, also known as Killer Mike, a rapper and activist in Black financial empowerment. Its third co-founder, Ryan Glover, who launched Bounce TV network, serves as its chairman.
The Greenwood name pays homage to ‘Black Wall Street’, a part of the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the early 20th century that served as a centre of African American enterprise, entertainment, skills, wealth and investment capital. It was destroyed during the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
Explaining why launching Greenwood to serve Black and Latinx people and business owners was necessary, Render said: “Today, a dollar circulates for 20 days in the white community but only six hours in the Black community.”
“Moreover, a Black person is twice as likely as a white person to be denied a mortgage. This lack of fairness in the financial system is why we created Greenwood.”
“It’s no secret that traditional banks have failed the Black and Latinx community,” continued Glover. “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.”
“This is our time to take back control of our lives and our financial future. That is why we launched Greenwood, modern banking for the culture.”
Greenwood’s initial products are savings and spending accounts that come with a black metal debit card for customers who sign up by the end of the year.
Advanced features such as Apple, Samsung, and Google Pay, virtual debit cards, peer-to-peer transfers, mobile check deposits, and free ATM usage in more than 30,000 US locations are offered with no hidden fees.
Greenwood also plans to work with brick and mortar minority-owned banks to provide deposits to help strengthen historically black banks.
Young said: “The work that we did in the civil rights movement wasn’t just about being able to sit at the counter. It was also about being able to own the restaurant. We have the skills, talent and energy to compete anywhere in the world, but to grow the economy, it has to be based on the spirit of the universe and not the greed of the universe.”
“Killer Mike, Ryan and I are launching Greenwood to continue this work of empowering black and brown people to have economic opportunity.”
Greenwood also committed to providing five free meals to a family in need for every customer sign-up, a donation to one of several charities serving education, fighting hunger and supporting civil rights for every swipe of its debit card, and a $10,000 grant every month to a Black or Latinx small business owner that is a customer.