State banking officials want to put the freeze on the owner of an ice-cream parlor who opened a community-bank alternative that pays interest in the form of gift cards for ice cream, waffles and coffee.
Ethan Clay, 31 years old, opened Whalebone Café Bank seven months ago in his shop, Oh Yeah!, a year and a half after he was hit with $1,600 in overdraft fees from a local bank where his account was overdrawn by a series of checks.
Mr. Clay says he wants to offer an alternative banking experience, and has accepted small deposits and made small loans. He claims he isn’t subject to banking rules because his operation is a gift-card savings account.
“It’s a strange case, we don’t have the authority to go close an ice-cream store,” said Ed Novak, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking. “But we are going to do something. You can’t mess with people’s money.”