Last week, at the American Bankers Association’s largest annual gathering, I urged all banks to consider offering Bank On-certified accounts. With Americans facing continued economic uncertainty, the time is right for banks of all sizes to join with the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund, the 43 banks who have pioneered this effort and the Bank On movement to reduce the number of unbanked in our country.

The response has been overwhelming. In just a week, the CFE Fund has seen thousands of visits to its website and dozens of banks have signed up to take the next steps toward offering an account that meets the Bank On National Account Standards. Policymakers from across the political spectrum have also reached out to learn more – because we can all agree that being banked matters. As the government rushed to distribute millions of Economic Impact Payments at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDIC, the IRS, Bank On and ABA worked to promote awareness of such accounts so American taxpayers could receive their payments quickly and securely. The FDIC is continuing its efforts through its #GetBanked campaign.

Sustainable economic opportunity requires a long-term banking relationship, but according to the FDIC’s latest data, 7.1 million Americans remain unbanked. Notably, approximately 14% of Black households and 12% of Hispanic households did not have bank accounts in 2019, compared to white households, whose unbanked rate has dropped to below 3%. While these rates have declined over time, as a nation and as an industry, we can do better.

Bank On helps solve this problem by connecting consumers to high-quality, low-fee accounts. First inspired by the FDIC’s Safe Account Pilot, the Bank On National Account Standards were created by the CFE Fund and are widely endorsed by both consumer advocates and banking industry leaders. According to data from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, banks have reported that, on average, 75% of customers who choose their certified account are new to their bank. A Bank On certification is like hanging a giant welcome sign for new and returning customers – and we want unbanked Americans to see a place for themselves in their local bank.

Making it easy for every bank in the country to offer a Bank On-certified account can have an impact at enormous scale. But creating new accounts or modifying existing ones is easier said than done, especially for community banks. This is why I was so pleased to receive commitments from 20 of our nation’s core technology providers, which provide the operational backbone behind many banks, to simplify the process for their bank customers to offer accounts that meet Bank On standards. Their support is critical to this initiative.

We look forward to working with local Bank On coalitions to encourage more banks to join the Bank On movement and to foster trust with Americans who are unbanked. Please visit ABA’s inclusive banking page to learn more about our work. Together, we can help set millions of American families on the path to a stronger future.