Let The Occupiers Eat Cake (Purchased With A Prepaid Debit Card)

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Some people tangentially linked to the movement have figured out what it was all about: getting access to all of those things enjoyed by the 1%, like prepaid debit cards.

The idea, led by a group that includes a Cornell law professor, a former director of Deutsche Bank and a former British diplomat, is meant to serve people who do not have bank accounts, but it also aims to make Occupy a recognized financial services brand.

On Sept. 17, the day of the anniversary, the group, known as the Occupy Money Cooperative, began raising money to pay for initial operating expenses. The group’s Web site invites visitors to “join the revolution,” suggesting that using the card might represent a “protest with every purchase.” That language evokes the spirit of the sprawling encampment of tents and tarps that briefly took over Zuccotti Park in 2011, and several people who were familiar figures there have endorsed the mission of the card, which its founders have described as “low-cost, transparent, high-quality financial services to the 99 percent….”

“There is no profit here,” said Mr. Ross, adding that once the cooperative raised about $900,000, it would make the cards available to anyone who signed up on the group’s Web site. “The only revenue we want is to make the thing sustainable and eventually expand our range of services.”

There will be no upfront cost for the card, Mr. Ross said, but there will be fees, including $1.95 for A.T.M. withdrawals and 99 cents for balance inquiries.

Or maybe not:

“Too much blood, sweat and tears have been going into Occupy to have that turned into a piece of plastic,” said Bill Dobbs, a longtime Occupy participant. “This is a very odd fit, and for the project’s sake and Occupy’s sake, they ought to go on separate paths….”

When Mr. Ross participated in an “ask me anything” forum on the social media Web site Reddit in August, he was peppered with skeptical questions. Some of the most pointed criticism came in an article printed in Tidal, a magazine that examines the theories and tactics that formed Occupy and similar movements, which was headlined “Help Support Better Stronger Neo-Liberalism With the Occupy Money Cooperative.”

The cooperative has also drawn criticism over its plan to establish a relationship with Visa, which some activists condemn because the company declined to process donations to WikiLeaks, the international organization known for publishing leaked information, much of it classified….

While some organizers acknowledged that the debit cards could be put to good use, they said the term “Occupy Card” wrongly implied that the project had been vetted and approved by the movement as a whole. And several organizers framed their reservations as a question of legacy, saying they were disturbed by the possibility that a debit card could end up being the most lasting artifact of the movement.

“Occupy has always been a consensus-based movement,” said Patrick Bruner, an organizer who was present on the first day of the protests. “And there’s no consensus on this issue.”

Coming Soon? An Occupy Wall Street Debit Card [NYT]

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