More than 860,000 NYC residents have an IDNYC card. More than half of them say they use the city-issued card as their primary form of identification, according to data provided by city officials.
And yet, the vast majority of banks and other financial institutions remain blind to the program’s importance and deaf to the needs of city residents who otherwise can’t open a bank account or establish credit.
A year and a half into the program, about a dozen banks and credit unions accept IDNYC as a primary form of identification. At least one bank even helped those with the ID file their tax returns this year. None have reported problems with fraud, security breaches or other concerns.
Nonetheless, most banks don’t accept the municipal identification card as a primary form of ID. Some take the card as secondary ID, requiring other forms first. But if half of IDNYC carriers use it as their primary ID, they may not have the other IDs those larger banks require.
Still, if IDNYC is good enough as a secondary ID, why is it not good enough as a primary ID? And why do other institutions not accept it at all? After all, as noted by a spokeswoman for Spring Bank, which accepts the card, banks all share the same regulators and rules.
The troubling disconnect between the vast need, particularly among immigrants, and the unwelcoming, inflexible approach of many banks is inexplicable. Bank executives have been unwilling to even spell out their objections, or say how the city could ease their concerns. NYC’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has provided banks with information about the city ID’s layers of security and fraud prevention, and has invited banking institutions to have detailed conversations to address concerns.
No one has taken up that open offer, said Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal.
We’d like to think that banks aren’t trying to avoid helping residents, including those here illegally. Banks and other financial institutions should accept the city’s invitation to talk about IDNYC, and then, if there are no additional concerns, they should start accepting the ID and stop shutting out New Yorkers in need.