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Article19 Apr 2022

Citi’s Equity Investment in Optus Bank Positively Impacts Communities of Color

Through Action for Racial Equity, Citi is investing in MDIs like Optus to help expand access to banking services and credit in communities of color. Working together, we can help close the racial wealth gap.

Optus Bank is a community bank with a mission-driven purpose. They help strengthen their community by closing the wealth gap created by systemic disparities in the financial industry. By providing loans and banking services to local businesses and individuals, Optus serves to turn deposits into direct support for the communities where their customers live and work.

Visionary African American leaders established Optus Bank 100 years ago (then called Victory Savings and Loan) to provide access to capital to individuals and business excluded from the banking system. Today, Unity's main goal has remained the same – ensuring that wealth building is not just for the wealthy.

Optus Banks operates according to two primary purposes: transform opportunities into wealth for people, regardless of where they are on their wealth-building journey, and balance margin and mission while bringing wealth-building services to their customers and communities through entrepreneurship, homeownership, and asset accumulation. As one of the remaining 18 Black-owned banks in the U.S., Optus Bank provides much-needed financial services to underserved customers and empowers economically distressed communities.

With Citi's equity investment, Optus Bank can now make an even bigger impact on the communities they serve. Citi remains the single largest, outside investor in Optus Bank, and in a recent round of funding, Citi successfully mobilized another leading banking institution to contribute additional funds. With this new capital, Optus has been able to submit a definite agreement to acquire a struggling Minority Depository Institution (MDI) bank and launch an mergers and acquistion initiative to scale their mission-driven banking services across the southeast region.

Citi and Optus have continued to expand their strategic partnership:

  • Citi social media included several posts highlighting the partnership, as well as amplifying the Yahoo TV interview between Harold Butler, Head of Minority Bank Institutional Engagement and MD in BCMA, and Dominik Mjartan, CEO of Optus.
  • Optus has executed an agreement to join a pilot with the Bridge built by Citi platform.
  • Citi introduced Optus to Citi's Capital Markets for loan purchases; Optus will continue to explore ways to partner on earning asset generation.
  • Optus has been actively engaged with Citi's communications team to help increase their capacity in reaching our target audiences.
  • Optus is actively building their capacity to leapfrog into the $1 billion asset range, improve our efficiency, and exponentially increase their social impact. 

Citi's partnership with Optus Bank demonstrates the impact our equity investments can have in helping Black-owned banks close the racial wealth gap. The support that Citi can provide as a trusted partner and investor can be transformational in helping Black-owned banks to not only productively deploy existing capital but also to attract additional capital.

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