When lyricist Michael “Killer Mike” Santiago Render became popular for the hashtag #BankBlack in 2016, it made sense that he would be a guest speaker for one of 19 remaining black-owned banks: OneUnited Bank. Then, in 2019, came Netflix’s “Trigger Warning,” with his mission to try to only live off of and support black-owned products for three days. (This became a much bigger challenge than he expected.)
So it was all but a given that he’d continue on with his feat of trying to support and recycle funds within black-owned businesses. In October 2020, he partnered with civil rights leader Andrew J. Young and Ryan Glover, the founder of the Bounce TV Network, to create a digital banking service platform for Black and Latino individuals and businesses: Greenwood.
Five months later, the digital bank just announced that it closed $40 million of Series A funding from six notable U.S. banks (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, PNC, Truist, Wells Fargo) along with Mastercard and Visa.
“The backing of six of the top seven banks and the two largest payment technology companies is a testament to the contemporary influence of the Black and Latino community,” said Glover, the chairman and co-founder of Greenwood, in a recent press release. “We now are even better positioned to deliver the world-class services our customers deserve.”
With more than 500K community members since the startup was announced, the mobile bank has offered bank features that include Android, Apple and Samsung Pay; virtual debit cards; peer-to-peer transfers; mobile check deposits; and surcharge fee-free ATM usage in more than 40,000 global locations.
The bank’s name—inspired by the 40-acre town that became Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma—also plans to partner with other historically black banks via deposits and lending opportunities. Current members already contribute to the black and Latino community in a few ways:
- Provide five meals to a food insecure family through Goodr just from creating an account.
- Spare change from an online or in-store purchase will support historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the King Center, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and continuous support with Goodr. Members have the opportunity to choose which one they want to support each time they make an electronic purchase.
- A monthly gift of $10K is distributed to a Black or Latino business.
- Greenwood is a sponsor of the Greenwood Cultural Center, a resource center and pictorial exhibit documenting before, during and after the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. (The results of this riot left more than 200 African-Americans murdered; more than 10,000 African-American homeless; and more than 2,000 business destroyed, including churches, hospitals and grocery stores. But before the riot, it was a thriving neighborhood with a hospital, school, rental properties and public library, where African-American lawyers, doctors, restaurants and stores did business and lived.)
Greenwood is the trading name for The Relevant Group, which is majority owned, managed, and operated by Blacks and Latino people.
In February, Greenwood invited a woman into a top leadership position. Lynn Tillman-Cherry, a payments industry veteran and fintech industry leader, was brought aboard as the Chief Compliance and Risk Officer.
To be added to the waiting list to join Greenwood as a full-time member of the mobile bank, click here to sign up. Although the waiting list is at a six-digit number hold, the goal is to “deliver the best-in-class digital banking services to you from day 1.”