Bank That Pays Interest in Ice Cream Is Actually Causing Controversy

Eye Roll 2

ice cream conesCome on, let's face it. Who doesn't love ice cream? (Even people with a lactose intolerance love it so much they'll hurt themselves for it -- or enjoy soy/almond/rice milk frozen desserts or sorbet!) And who wouldn't want to deposit their money in a bank where you earn interest ... in ice cream?!

And so seemed to go the thought process of Ethan Clay, a Pittsburgh ice cream shop owner who recently decided that people need "a creative solution to banking in a new economy" and has started taking deposits his brand-new, totally un-FDIC insured bank, the Whalebone Cafe Bank. Customers who deposit a minimum of $100 earn interest in the form of a made-up currency called "exclamation" dollars, which can be used to buy ice cream or other items at Clay's ice cream and coffee shop. Hello, GENIUS!

Clay says every $1 in exclamation bucks is worth $1.10 in regular dollars, so a customer with $200 on deposit currently would earn "about 5.5 percent" per month, or roughly 11 exclamation dollars ... to put toward yummy ice cream treats. He explains that he wanted to create ...

... a truly local, local bank where people who drink coffee together ... were actually sharing each other's money. And I wanted people to be able to borrow money at a reasonable rate.

Awesome! And if that means people get to "earn" cash to put toward more coffee and more ice cream that they were going to enjoy anyway, more power to 'em!

Of course, law enforcement isn't too thrilled with the concept. Because even though Clay is telling officials not to worry, because it's basically just a "gift card program," the Pennsylvania Department of Banking sees it quite differently. What a buncha buzzkills! Hopefully, Clay does what he has to to keep his "ice cream bank" in business, because I'm sure banking there is not just satisfying to customers' sweet tooths, but their wallets, as well.

What do you think about this banking concept? Would you want to earn interest in ice cream?


Image via Joelk75/Flickr

desserts, eating out


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Todd Vrancic

@PRIMA, then don't bank there.

nonmember avatar Phoenix

Um, this isn't a bank. This is a business owner who is willing to take your money and give you ice cream as interest instead

Think about what will happen if his business folds, or the ownership changes. Besides the whole idea that he's giving you product, that he gets for cheaper than he sells it, instead of money.

Basically these people are being tricked into financial screwing. Ice cream costs about 1/10th of what it is sold for, so he's actually getting a great deal in giving people 1/10th of the value of their interest. It's like me borrowing 20 bucks from you and instead of giving you back 20 bucks, getting my buddy to give you a meal at a restaurant. It might cost you 20 to buy it yourself, but it sure didn't put me out that much, and I come out ahead.

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