What Is a Public Bank?

A public bank is owned and controlled by the people of the city, state, or region it serves. It takes revenue deposits for the governments in its region (and can take deposits from semi-governmental organizations such as EBMUD or BART). Because it has no investors or shareholders, it is in a position to both save money and make money for its depositors and — much more important — for the people those depositors represent and work for.

A public bank makes loans that benefit its community and reinvests bank profits back into its community. It can — and ours will — refuse to invest in fossil fuels and private prisons. It can –and ours will — respect indigenous sovereignty and put the needs of most vulnerable residents front and center. It’s run by skilled bankers, not politicians. Citizens have a strong voice in its oversight. Communities with public banks can declare independence from felonious, risky, for-profit banks, and keep taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money to solve the problems of our communities.

Public banking has several strongholds around the world, including Germany — where public banking profits are largely responsible for the green energy surge — and China.

Most public bank advocates are not recommending “retail” public banks — i.e., not designing banks that can take direct deposits from individuals or businesses. Rather, we envision banks that can work with local community banks and credit unions to make better, more favorable loans to local individuals and local businesses.

You can find more information on public banking here.