Community bank works with Mark Cuban to help expedite stimulus funds

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Jill Castilla has no plans to appear on "Shark Tank," but she knows good advice when she hears it.

Seizing on an idea suggested by Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks’ owner and a "Shark Tank" participant since 2011, Castilla, CEO of Citizens Bank of Edmond in Oklahoma, plans to offer customers a way to obtain a large percentage of their stimulus checks now — rather than waiting three weeks or more on the federal government.

The move, by Castilla's estimate, could hasten the infusion of more than $1 million into her bank's community.

The $300 million-asset Citizens is creating a no-interest overdraft line that customers can repay when they receive checks from the recently signed CARES Act. The law lets a large percentage of individuals receive up to $1,200, plus another $500 per child.

The bank tweeted that more infomation about the program, including details about a dedicated app, should be available on Tuesday.

Castilla said she was motivated by a recent tweet from Cuban urging banks to quickly respond to meet the needs of Americans who needed the federal funds. She reached out to the entrepreneur and, after two phone conversations and a few emails, they had mapped out the basic outline for the program.

Citizens Bank, led by CEO Jill Castilla, is creating an overdraft program to give customers early access to funds from the federal stimulus package.

"We were doing something informally to help our customers," Castilla said. Cuban "really was trying to push, knowing there’s a lot of need out there.”

With a single branch in Edmond, Citizens is too small to make a difference nationally, but its overdraft program promises to have a significant impact. Several thousand customers could qualify for the overdraft lines, which are expected to total about two-thirds of a client’s expected stimulus check, Castilla said.

Castilla would like to have money available for customers within 24 hours after they qualify.

Citizens “has been generous in how we’re approaching our overdrafts daily, waiving fees and ensuring we were being as helpful as we could in covering items, so informally we were doing something like this already,” Castilla said.

Cuban "really helped propel us to define a program to lower our customers’ anxiety," she added. "When you know you’ve got some kind of backstop until the stimulus arrives, versus waiting to see if an item is going to clear, it reduces anxiety and creates hope.”

Cuban used Twitter on Monday to tout the program.

“This is what every small bank should be doing,” Cuban tweeted in response to Citizens’ announcement. “If you are a bank DM Jill and get with the program!”

Two banks, in Kentucky and Missouri, have already contacted Castilla to discuss Citizens' program.

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