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A bank for the unbankables: Austria’s Federal President inaugurates first branch office of Die Zweite Sparkasse

12. January 2012

 People who for whatever reason do not have access to a bank account have a new partner. The first branch office of Die Zweite Sparkasse was inaugurated on 21 November 2006 at Glockengasse 3 in Vienna’s second district in the presence of the Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer.

In his inaugural address President Fischer said: “Die Zweite Sparkasse is a trend-setting initiative. This savings bank enables the socially weak to live an orderly life and to actively participate in social processes. With its work, the bank is instrumental in maintaining social stability in our country.”
Die Zweite Sparkasse offers bank accounts to people who have got into financial difficulties and no longer have access to banking services. The “bank for people without a bank” was initiated by ERSTE Foundation, majority shareholder of Erste Bank AG, and is operated by voluntary staff members of Erste Bank in cooperation with social welfare institutions such as Caritas as well as debt counselling services.
 
“With Die Zweite Sparkasse, we bring new life to the almost 200-year-old savings bank idea,” said Andreas Treichl, Chairman of the Board of ERSTE Foundation. “Because the savings banks were established right here in Vienna’s second district as institutions serving the common welfare. ERSTE Foundation thus transfers the founding principles of the savings banks to the social reality of modern life. Back then the aim was – and still is today – to strengthen people’s personal responsibility and development by providing them with simple financial services.”
Following a festive ecumenical service at Leopoldskirche church celebrated by Monsignore Helmut Schüller and Pastor Michael Chalupka, more than 250 guests attended the inauguration celebration in the Odeon theatre at Taborstraße.
 
Speakers and guests included:
– Federal President of Austria Heinz Fischer
– Andreas Treichl, Chairman of the Board of DIE ERSTE Foundation
– Herbert Schimetschek, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of DIE ERSTE Foundation
– Franz Küberl, President of Caritas
– Hans Grohs, Managing Director of ABS debt counselling services
– Martin Schenk, Chairman of the Austrian anti-poverty network Armutskonferenz
– Evelyn Hayden, Chairwoman of the Board of Die Zweite Sparkasse
– Johanna Rachinger, Director General of the Austrian National Library
– Barbara Sporn, Vice Rector of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration
– Georg Winckler, Rector of Vienna University
– Gabriele Zuna-Kratky, Director of Technisches Museum Wien (Technology Museum)
 
 
Die Zweite Sparkasse: Europe’s first bank for people without a bank
 
A bank account is central to the quality of life
Austria is among the wealthiest economies in the world. All the same, more and more people unexpectedly fall into social or economic distress, which often also results in loss of access to financial services. To hold a bank account is however almost indispensable in modern everyday life – particularly for the purpose of standing orders to pay basic living costs such as rent, gas and electricity. Likewise, due to increased use of automated credit transfer for salary payment a bank account is commonly required for regaining employment.
 
Ten thousands of people affected
In Austria, currently ten thousands of people are without access to a bank account for various reasons and are therefore hardly capable of trying to return to “normal” life. Die Zweite Sparkasse, with its branch office located at Glockengasse 3 in Vienna’s second district, now offers its services to these people. The aim of Europe’s only “bank for people without a bank” is to enable its customers to actively participate in social and economic life, to strengthen their personal responsibility and help them build financial capability.
 
A credit account to get started
The only product of Die Zweite Sparkasse will initially be a temporary, interest-bearing credit account, that is to say, a basis account with a bank card which does not offer overdraft facilities and is available to customer for three years only. “Rather than being a permanent solution, Die Zweite Sparkasse is to provide a basis for opening and holding a regular bank account at a later time,” explains Evelyn Hayden, Chairwoman of the Board of Die Zweite Sparkasse. “We take the time to understand our customers’ needs and are committed to guiding them through their financial – and often also psychically demanding – emergency situations together with our partners,” says Hayden, whose work is voluntary.
 
Cooperation with Caritas and debt counselling services
The credit account is not a singular product aimed at people in personal distress but one component of a complete package of counselling and support services provided by welfare organisations such as Caritas or debt counselling services. For this purpose, the credit account was developed in close cooperation with these institutions. In order to be entitled to such an account, customers must already use the services of one of these organisations and be recommended by them.
Initiated and financed by “DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung”
 
The starting capital for “Die Zweite Wiener Vereins-Sparcasse” has been provided by the majority shareholder of Erste Bank, “DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung”. Die Zweite Sparkasse is operated by volunteers and retired staff members of Erste Bank.