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Bank Transfer Day: Everybody Wins

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Credit unions and small community banks are rubbing their hands in delight at the prospect of new customers lining up outside their doors seeking to open an account with them on "Bank Transfer Day" that falls on Saturday.

The protest movement that urges customers to close their accounts with big banks and put their money with credit unions and community banks instead has been a boon for smaller players, who are capitalizing on the anti-big bank sentiment.

Credit unions and community banks are reporting significantly higher volumes of applications for new account openings. The Credit Union National Association said credit unions have added more than 650,000 members and $4.5 billion in new deposits in the past month.

Some banks like Los Angeles-based First Pactrust Bancorp (BANC) has been aggressively seeking out customers frustrated with big banks, hoping to gain some market share through good old-fashioned banking practices that relies on relationships.

"Consumers are dissatisfied with their experience with big banks. The debit card fees, which has now been withdrawn, was the last straw on the camel's back," said CEO Greg Mitchell. "Consumers want to go back to a place where they can get a predictable level of service and some respect."

The bank has kick-started a promotion ad campaign earlier this week, offering customers $60- the same fee customers might have ended up paying in debit fees had Bank of America (BAC) gone ahead with its unpopular fee- if they switch their account to PacTrust. The bank will stay open longer on Saturday in honor of Bank Transfer Day, the bank said.

Bank Transfer Day has attracted a lot of attention for its anti-big bank rhetoric that seems to have struck a chord with supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The movement was fueled by a public outcry against new fees imposed by large banks including Bank of America (BAC), Wells Fargo (WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) as they seek new ways to offset regulations that limit their fee income from processing debit card transactions. The banks have since caved to public sentiment, withdrawing their proposals.

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