What is a Public Bank?

A Public Bank is a bank for the people, by the people.

It’s a bank that’s owned by the people through their city, state, region, or territory and takes city or state deposits (taxes, etc.). Unlike a privately-owned bank, which puts investor profits as its first priority, a public bank’s decisions must reflect the values and needs of the community.

A public bank makes loans that benefit its community and reinvests bank profits back into its community. It’s run by skilled bankers, not politicians, and citizens have a strong voice in its oversight. It allows communities to declare their independence from risky, expensive, for-profit banks, and keeps taxpayers’ money working at home.


Why Public Banks

Today, cities and states put their money in Wall Street banks. Those banks leverage our public funds in order to dominate the financialized speculative economy rather than reinvesting them in our communities. At the same time, cities and states borrow money from Wall Street institutions and bondholders at high interest rates and pay large fees to keep money in their banks. This is not a cost-effective way to do business. Cities and states could be keeping their public dollars and leveraging them for their own community needs.

With city and state-owned banks, we cut out Wall Street middlemen. Our community’s cash stays home to benefit us! Bank fees are eliminated, interest costs drop, and public bank profits are reinvested into our communities.

Public banks can help us create the communities we want. We want parks, good roads, safe bridges, clean energy, and housing we can afford. We want lower interest rates for local small business loans, local control of our tax dollars, investment in our local communities, and ethical and transparent financial institutions managing our public funds.  Public banks can be the financial engine that makes this happen for our communities.


10 Key Facts

Public Banks:

  1. Take the deposits of local government funds (city or state taxes, fees, etc.).
  2. Are required to benefit the public by serving local community needs.
  3. Can save state and local governments millions or even billions of dollars, by cutting out middlemen and private shareholders, eliminating fees, and financing projects at lower interest rates.
  4. Reinvest bank profits into the community, providing a new source of income for cities and states and a source of funding for projects such as infrastructure, renewable energy and affordable housing.
  5. Are run not by politicians, but by qualified bankers serving a public mission.
  6. Provide accountability and transparency to the public for bank decisions.
  7. Avoid the risks of Wall Street’s speculative gambling.
  8. Create new jobs and spur economic growth by supporting local small businesses.
  9. Partner with and support rather than competing with local community banks.
  10. Can lend during times of stress and crisis, helping to sustain a healthy local economy.


Momentum is building

Across the nation, more than 25 initiatives for public banks are actively being pursued, by progressives and conservatives; and over 50 organizations are promoting public banks. Click here for PDF


Public Banking Takes Hold map


Help promote Public Banking and banking in the public interest.

Support the public banking movement today!

Support PBI


The Public Banking Institute (PBI) was formed in January 2011 as an educational non-profit organization. Its mission is to further the understanding, explore the possibilities, and facilitate the implementation of public banking at all levels — local, regional, state, and national.

Our mission is to inspire, enable, and support Public Bank initiatives, returning control of money and credit to states and communities.

Our vision is that a network of publicly-owned banks will be established that create affordable credit and allow communities to declare independence from Wall Street’s high-risk, expensive, unaccountable private banking system. 

Public banks have a mandate (mission) to act in the best interests of its residents and use their credit-generating ability for community needs, including infrastructure, clean energy, affordable housing and other programs important to the residents.

PBI is at the forefront of the public banking movement in the 21st century. We are pioneering something truly revolutionary: a banking and monetary system that supports sustainable prosperity for all of us.


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