Occupy Wall Street and Bank Transfer Day prompted millions of Americans to ditch their old predatory financial institutions.
Back in October, in the thick of the Occupy Wall Street protests, we gave you step-by-step instructions for leaving your large predatory bank. Part of the impetus for the project was OWS, of course, but another factor was the establishment of "Bank Transfer Day," which asked people to drop their big banks in favor of community banks or credit unions by November 5.
Almost immediately, data showed that the transfer movement was working, with some credit unions reporting spikes in membership as large as 30 percent. Today, we have even more concrete numbers to show that the "move your money" movement was a success, to the tune of millions of people.
According to the neutral research firm Javelin Strategy & Research, 5.6 million adults have changed banking providers in the last three months. Of those who switched, 11 percent (610,000 people) said they did so because of Bank Transfer Day. The number of transfers, Javelin says, is 300 percent as many people as moved during the same period last year.
Javelin warns that the mass exodus was "certainly not the massive departure banks might have feared." Still, if we assume that the average American family has $3,800 in the bank, and we assume that only 300,000 of the 5.6 million people who moved had even that much, that's more than a billion dollars divested from big banks. In the end, it won't stop them from chugging along, but it proves that a concerted effort to change the status quo can be worth a lot, literally and figuratively.