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May 30, 2024

National Bankers Association Statement in Support of Fee Waiver Program for Minority Bank Customers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (May 30, 2024) The National Bankers Association (NBA), representing minority depository institutions (MDIs) across the United States, stands firmly in support of Citigroup’s initiative to waive ATM fees for customers of minority banks and community development credit unions. This program, which has benefited over 440,000 customers from 28 financial institutions since 2016, is a critical step towards alleviating one of the significant barriers to banking for underserved communities.


Our member banks serve predominantly underserved communities that have historically faced systemic financial inequities. These banks are not just financial institutions, they are pillars of their communities, providing essential support and access to capital, especially during economic hardship brought on by events such as climate change and global pandemics.


The lawsuit recently filed against Citigroup, accusing the bank of racial discrimination for its fee waiver program, fundamentally misunderstands such initiatives’ purpose and positive impact. Citigroup’s program is not discriminatory; instead, it is necessary to address the longstanding disparities faced by underserved and communities of color in accessing affordable banking services. The lawsuit inaccurately assumes MDIs don’t have non-minority customers who benefit from the fee waiver, or that MDIs would turn those customers away. By waiving ATM fees, Citigroup is helping to level the playing field, ensuring that minority and underserved customers are not disproportionately burdened by additional financial costs. Moreover, the community lenders who participate in the program are not just Black and minority banks.


MDIs do not discriminate – anyone who wants to open an account or do business with an MDI is welcome to do so, without regard to race, sex, religion, or any other protected status. MDIs are, however, critical in supporting economic growth and financial stability within communities of color. These institutions are crucial in areas where residents are significantly more likely to be unbanked or underbanked compared to their white counterparts. The fee waiver program is an example of how large financial institutions can partner with MDIs to enhance financial inclusion and support the economic empowerment of underserved and communities of color.


Historically, minority-owned and -operated banks have faced challenges such as undercapitalization, fewer lending opportunities, and systemic regulatory practices that have hindered their growth and sustainability. Today, there are fewer minority-owned and -operated banks than there were 90 years ago. Programs like Citigroup’s fee waiver are essential in providing the support needed to overcome these challenges and ensure the survival and success of MDIs.


The National Bankers Association has consistently advocated for policies and initiatives that promote financial equity and inclusion. We applaud Citigroup and other big bank partners who recognize the importance of supporting minority banks and their customers. These efforts are crucial in our collective mission to foster economic empowerment and bridge the gap in financial services for underserved and communities of color.


As the voice of MDIs for nearly a century, the National Bankers Association will continue to support and champion initiatives that advance the interests of our member banks and the communities they serve. We urge policymakers, financial institutions, and the public to recognize and support the vital role that MDIs play in building stronger, more equitable communities.


About the National Bankers Association

Founded in 1927, the National Bankers Association is the voice for the nation’s $349 billion minority depository institutions (MDIs) banking industry, and the only organization focused solely on the survival and strengthening of MDIs. Its members include Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, and women-owned and -operated banks across the country, all working to help communities who are underserved by traditional banks and financial service providers. MDIs are located in 32 states and territories. Learn more at



Molly Moran

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