Pensacola, Florida-based G & L Internet Bank is set to launch a new service that will take advantage of Internet anonymity to help gay and lesbian banking customers avoid the “financial bashing” that founder Steven Dunlap argues is rampant in the business community. The new site, set to launch on October 11th, will offer Internet and telephone banking, personal and business checking and savings accounts, and a variety of related financial services.
G & L will also issue ATM and VISA check cards, its own credit cards, and offer consumer and business loans. Most significantly, it promises to provide service in an unbiased atmosphere, with extra emphasis on the “worry-free” and “no questions asked” phrases often used in the service industry.
The operation has a capitalization of $19 million (US$), which it raised from 70 private investors, Dunlap told the E-Commerce Times. He added that the company’s investors and management personnel have more than 101 combined years of banking experience.
“The mission of G & L Bank is simple: Provide the gay and lesbian community with highly personal service in a confidential, safe, and comfortable environment in which they can conduct their financial dealings,” the Web site states. Customers do not have to be gay or a lesbian to bank at G & L, and the company posts both a non-discrimination and non-reverse-discrimination policy for its employees.
While the Internet will be G & L’s starting point, the company plans to open physical banking locations in major cities across the U.S. within two to three years of opening. G & L already has offices open in Pensacola. Additional targeted cities will likely be ones with large gay/lesbian communities.
Why A Special Bank?
Dunlap maintained a career as a successful financial executive for years under the cover of a “straight” appearance. When that cover was blown, he says on the Web site, the need for a more “gay-friendly” bank became apparent. “My first financial bashing occurred in 1990 when somehow a ‘leak’ informed my bankers of my sexual orientation. From there on, I knew I had been ‘outed’ in my professional world. With the camouflage removed, I began to experience the frustration and humiliation of biased banking,” he adds.
From a purely practical standpoint, gay and lesbian consumers have been targeted by marketers of high-ticket goods and services for years, because they are widely believed to earn higher-than-average salaries and have more disposable income. They are also considered to be technophiles and somewhat Internet savvy.
The owners make the Web site’s purpose clear through its graphics and affiliations. The bank’s logo incorporates the pink triangle and rainbow flag symbols of the gay rights community, and the site provides links to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies for and raises awareness of equal rights issues. In addition, it endorses RainbowVoice.com, an Internet service provider that is focused upon the gay and lesbian community.