SAO PAULO – The world’s first digital LGBTI+ bank was launched earlier this month in Brazil, a country where one person per day is killed in homophobic or transphobic attacks.
Known as Pride Bank, that institution has pledged to allocate a portion of its gross income to charities that benefit gay or trans people.
“We’re not here just to make money, but to give back to LGBTI+ people through social actions,” the chief executive of Pride Bank, Marcio Orlandi, said in an interview with Efe.
The exclusively online bank has a mission to promote social change and to that end is donating 5 percent of its gross income to the Pride Institute, an organization that supports charities that benefit LGBTI+ individuals.
“Our goal is for everyone to be treated the same, as we deserve,” and to have the opportunity to “be who we really want to be,” the CEO said.
The bank is currently involved in three social projects, one of which aims to provide “orientation and support” to young members of the LGBTI+ community in the downtown Sao Paulo neighborhood of Largo do Arouche, a traditional gay enclave of that metropolis.
The financial institution also is looking to support the EternamenteSOU organization, which assists with the social integration of elderly LGBTI+ persons, and to fund the renovation of the Brenda Lee House, a shelter in Sao Paulo that has taken in homeless transgender individuals and transvestites for more than three decades.
The idea in the future is to help “hundreds or even thousands of organizations” across Brazil, particularly in the country’s north and northeast, where the LGBTI+ community “suffers much more” in societies that are “more male chauvinist and conservative,” Orlandi said.
Among many other dreams, Pride Bank’s CEO said he intends to offer customers health plans that meet their specific needs, including transgender people’s hormone therapies.
The bank also has enlisted the services of Welight, a technology company that will offer Priders – as the bank’s customers are known – complete transparency on how each cent was distributed to the different charities.
A portion of the bank’s earnings also will be earmarked for promoting the community’s activities through “cultural events or (by) creating an (LGBTI+) music festival,” Orlandi said.
“In Brazil, we’ve had a big drop-off in terms of investment in the culture of the LGBTI+ community,” Orlandi said, adding that the country’s art must offer “positive references” to people who potentially are afraid to assume their identity or sexual orientation.
The bank began operating on Nov. 13 and offers its customers a range of services, from checking accounts to bill and tax payments to a prepaid credit card in which Priders can opt to use their social name (the one transgender people use in their social relationships) as opposed to the name registered on their birth certificate.
Like many other online financial institutions, Pride Bank has initially launched in beta testing mode and accounts for now may be opened by invitation only.
Orlandi, however, said the feedback the bank has received from both inside and outside the LGBTI+ community “has been wonderful.”