The Bank Slate


Former Alloy exec forms neobank for indigenous people

A former executive at Alloy Labs Alliance is leading an effort to form a digital bank for indigenous people. 

Amber Buker, who recently stepped down as Alloy’s director of insights, announced plans for Totem in a tweet, calling the startup the “only digital bank by and for indigenous people.” 

Alloy disclosed that it is an investor in the venture.

The plan is to go live with the bank next year. Totem has yet to select its Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) partner.

Buker is CEO of Total Technologies, which is based in Tulsa, Okla. She is joined by Richard Chance, a veteran software developer who will serve as the startup’s chief technology officer. 

“We’re partnering with sovereign tribal governments to deliver culturally relevant financial products and education, make tribal benefits more accessible and help the growing number of self-identifying Natives born off-[reservation] connect to culture,” the group said on its website.

Totem will also aim to streamline tribal benefit access and education. 

“Our mobile-first experience and inclusive KYC procedures enable Totem to put accounts, credit building solutions, and other key financial products in the palms of our customers’ hands,” the website said. 

Only 19 banks in the United States are minority-depository institutions (MDIs) run or owned by Native American groups, according to March 31 data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Totem said it plans to make money by collecting fees from merchants when customers use their debit card. A portion of those fees would be shared with Totem’s tribal partners, the website said.

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