In a Nutshell: The Black community has historically been underserved by traditional banking institutions. That’s why the country’s largest Black-owned media company — Urban One — created the ONE VIP card to help spread the wealth. ONE VIP is a Visa debit card and app that allow users to receive rewards for shopping at Black businesses, and users can even deposit payroll, tax, and benefit checks directly into their prepaid account. The card program aims to foster trust in financial products among the Black community.
Black communities in the United States lack the generational wealth that white communities possess. The average Black family’s net worth is only $17,600 — a 10th of the wealth of the average white family.
That limited wealth also means Black families are often not prioritized by financial institutions.
“A lack of access to financial services is not just a symptom of the racial wealth gap; it is also a cause,” McKinsey & Company noted. “Without the ability to affordably save, invest, and insure themselves against risks, many black families struggle to translate the income they earn into wealth.”
Nearly half of Black households are either unbanked or underbanked because of that historical exclusion. Unbanked or underbanked individuals can pay $40,000 more in banking fees over their lifetime.
At the same time, financial institutions are missing opportunities to cater to that community. As Black wealth increases, financial companies could benefit by creating products for that demographic.
Urban One, the largest Black-owned media company in the United States, set out to remedy that disconnection between the community and financial institutions. The company’s Visa debit card program — ONE VIP — offers cardholders a straightforward and beneficial financial product. It also helps spread the wealth by rewarding users for shopping at Black-owned businesses.
“It’s our way of giving back and taking social responsibility, and the meaning of why this product came to be,” said Khyrunnessa Rabbani, VP of Marketing at ONE VIP.
The prepaid ONE VIP Visa debit card doesn’t include hidden fees or overdraft charges and cardholders can use the companion ONE VIP Mobile app available in both the Apple and Google Play Stores to take more control of their financial lives. That includes the ability to deposit cash or checks to their account without having to visit a bank branch.
Helping Consumers Support Black Enterprises
Years ago, Urban One saw the distrust between Black culture and financial services. Institutions regularly discriminate against Black people, which led to their skeptical view of banking services. What’s more, some Black individuals don’t feel that they have enough money to secure a bank account.
“We face systemic discrimination in many forms. Even if I dealt with it, I didn’t know I was dealing with it,” said Khyrunnessa. “There is a reason they don’t have a good relationship with traditional banking services.”
Urban One designed its card to ensure that Black users would trust the product. Many potential cardholders are worried about hidden fees or overdraft charges — neither of which are part of the ONE VIP card.
Instead, cardholders pay a flat fee of $4.95 per month for the card. The program fees are simple and transparent and always available at ONEVIP.com for cardholder reference. Users appreciate knowing their actual payments — and that they won’t face any surprises.
The card’s primary goal is to circulate wealth within the Black community through its rewards program. Shoppers earn rewards on every purchase they make, but they receive even more when shopping at select Black-owned businesses.
“We have partnered with 25 businesses, and double the points for those transactions,” Khyrunnessa said. These rewards can be used for cash back credits to their ONE VIP account or paid forward by donating to Black charities.
Urban One also donates to Black charities based on a cardholder’s monthly spending. When users meet a threshold in their spend and deposit level, the company makes donations on their behalf that support Black and people of color.
Simplifying Shopping and Check Deposits
One of the key factors differentiating the ONE VIP card from similar products is that it isn’t a standard checking account. Instead, it is a digital banking product that doesn’t require a credit check. All potential members need to do to qualify for the card is verify their identity.
Because the card is not bound to a traditional checking account, users can’t overdraft their account. If there is not enough money on the ONE VIP account, the transaction will not go through.
Another helpful feature is the mobile app associated with the card. The app keeps records of spending so cardholders can log in to check their balances and manage their money on the go.
The app also allows users to deposit checks using its photo capture feature to load the balance onto their card.
Other cardholders choose to have their paychecks directly deposited into their ONE VIP account.
“When we receive the money that’s being sent from the employer or the IRS, as soon as we get that money, we can load that onto their card up to two days faster than it would normally happen. This is because we have the checks and balances in place to receive those funds, validate them, and put it directly onto a card,” Khyrunnessa told us.
This early access to paychecks is beneficial to those cardholders who live paycheck to paycheck.
Users also have the option of visiting Visa ReadyLink locations to deposit cash onto their ONE VIP cards. That can be useful for cardholders who want to shop at stores that don’t accept cash.
ONE VIP: Catering to Communities in Need
ONE VIP is a new product, so the team behind the card is still working hard to make it as useful as possible.
For instance, the company is in the process of building more relationships with Black-owned businesses, especially those in the retail space, including a winery, a clothing store, and a health and beauty company.
“We’ve found through surveying the landscape that these are brands people enjoy. However, we do want to understand where their interests lie and continue adding partners so we can support more businesses,” Khyrunnessa said.
The team also wants to remind potential users that they can start using the ONE VIP card immediately. Other companies may advertise similar products to the same audience, but they aren’t yet available.
“We may have five companies all vying for the same person’s attention, but they put you on a waiting list, or you have to pay upwards of $50 to get a card. With ONE VIP, we can ship you a card today at no cost. If someone needs a financial solution, we give them a financial solution,” Khyrunnessa said.
She also emphasizes that anyone over 18 can use the ONE VIP card. Even if a potential user already has a bank account, they can choose the product to support Black businesses. Others may select the card because they are tired of using cash or want to stop taking their checks somewhere to cash or deposit.
“This is a solution that solves many problems and makes it easy for you. We want to make it as seamless as possible,” said Khyrunnessa.
About Stride Bank N.A.
Originally chartered in 1913 as Central National Bank of Enid, Stride Bank N.A. has grown rapidly. OCC regulated and Oklahoma based, Stride Bank N.A. is a long-time innovator and has developed highly specialized payment solutions for some of the nation’s largest corporations, including real-time payments (ACH, OCT and AFT); consumer and commercial lending; third-party issuer services for debit, prepaid, and credit; and network sponsorship to Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. Also offering broad spectrum mobile banking, wealth management, and treasury services to numerous industries, Stride Bank N.A. has branches throughout Oklahoma with satellite offices in Arizona, Texas, South Dakota, Kansas, Florida, Utah, and Louisiana. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. Learn more at www.stridebank.com.