Back in the beginning of March, we reported on Barclaycard`s new Ring MasterCard, which calls itself the first-ever “crowdsourced” credit card and lets card holders participate in policy-making and profit-sharing. Now a new website YourBofA.com, imagines a crowdsourced Bank of America – one which gives its customers the opportunity to “play the role of pilot, passenger, and rescuer” of the post-recession, post-bailout Bank of America.
The welcome letter on the site, supposedly from Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, reads in part:
“We`ve paid $8.58 billion in relief to borrowers and $3.24 billion in fines. We face lawsuits and claims from citizens, companies, and state and local governments. […] We`ve found ourselves . . . deep in unpopular investments like coal, at a time when climate change is a growing societal concern.”
Purported customer suggestions on the site run the gamut from reasonable-sounding ideas such as “Banks need to offer investment opportunities that focus on local needs and small businesses.” (Eric Brusselford, Brooklyn NY) to statements like “I live in my car, eat at the homeless kitchen and discreetly bathe in the public library that may be closing soon. We did it together Bank of America!” (Anonymous)
Of course, the site is a parody. It was created by Yes Lab, an organization that creates media campaigns for activist groups like Occupy Wall Street. Bank of America has no affiliation with the website and said they would have no further comment on it other than to emphasize that it has nothing to do with them. Yes Lab created the site in collaboration with Occupy Wall Street and the Rainforest Action Group, as well as several other groups.
Missing the Mark?
In fact, while the site is predicated on the notion that Bank of America is not doing well, with their spoof copy stating that “our most recent global earnings statement, and the devastating two-year decline of our stock price – from $50 not long ago, to not far from $5 now – show clearly enough that Bank of America is in full mid-plummet, “that could hardly be further from the truth. Bank of America posted a $653 million profit in its last quarter, and its stock is one of the best-performing of 2012 thus far.
The Rainforest Action Group, in particular, might want to take note of the fact that Bank of America is one of the most environmentally innovative big companies in the world – even having been recently named number one in the US and number two in the world by Bloomberg Markets magazine`s “Greenest Banks” issue. Their efforts toward renewable energy have set the bar for large corporations in terms of environmentally-friendly initiatives, and they`re aiming to reduce global greenhouse gas emission 15 percent within the next three years.
A Too-Easy Target
However, Bank of America`s standing as the second-biggest bank in the nation and the world`s largest issuer of credit cards makes them an easy target. Yes Lab`s director, Andy Bichlbaum, admits that “Bank of America is sort of the low-hanging fruit,” and says that he stands by the site`s message.
Bichlbaum says of Bank of America, “When we bailed them out in 2008, you would think we`d get some say in how they`ve run, but now they continue behaving how they were, doing the same things that got them into the mess. Ordinary people have much better ideas about how a bank should be run than bankers do.”
The crowdsourcing movement, defined by Jeff Howe as “the act of a company . . . taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to [a] network of people in the form of an open call.”
Bank of America`s upcoming shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 9 will likely be the site of more protests and parodies by The Rainforest Action Network, which is organizing a protest and a rally.