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I am just curious if there is anything close to running a bank account yourself. That means not signing up for a bank account from a bank or company, and it does not mean starting your own fintech app where you can create banking accounts for your own customers. There is no company. It's just you running whatever software necessary to qualify as a bank account, with whatever kinds of registration or integrations necessary to do banking services like sending and receiving IBAN transfers, being able to use a debit card to make payments, etc.

What is the closest you can come to making your own DIY bank account from scratch, just for you, without the use of any other companies or services at all?

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    How many hundreds of thousands of dollars do you have to throw at the problem, and how are you going to answer the government when they ask you what kind of scam or money-laundering operation you're running? Who is going to pay you interest? Closest I can think of would be trying to start a credit union.
    – keshlam
    Feb 10, 2023 at 20:12
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    You can't have a bank account without a bank, and a bank isn't software. You can't do this as an individual. Feb 10, 2023 at 20:13

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It's not possible. Being a bank means negotiating individual contracts with a lot of other banks and the government central bank to let you transfer money. Banks aren't banks unless they have accounts at other banks.

Being a bank is a bit like being an Internet Service Provider: your job is to connect customers to a network, but there isn't a "magic internet box" somewhere which all the ISPs plug into. Instead, the ISPs plug into each other, haphazardly, and they are the internet. The only way to become part of the internet is to plug into someone else on the internet; ideally many people. It's the same way with banks.

When you send money from America to someone in, say, Australia, your bank can't just send your US$100 directly to the Australian bank - it has to figure out a chain of banks that have accounts at each other, and then phone them up and get them to transfer the money one step at a time. That's why it takes a week and costs $100.


In cryptocurrency, there is a "magic network box" that every "bank" plugs into. That "magic box" is called a blockchain. It's not really a "magic box", because inside the box is a network, that you have to plug into, but the process for running that network is fully automated and doesn't require you to sign any contracts or designate a compliance officer. You can run some pre-written software that connects you to the network, and then you can treat your copy of the software as if it was a "magic network box" and plug all your banking stuff into it.

But Bitcoin isn't very useful in the real world at the moment.


There's also the idea of a CBDC, or Central Bank Digital Currency, which would move one of the world major currencies onto a technology similar to Bitcoin. Unlike Bitcoin it would be a network with a central core in a highly guarded server room at the Federal Reserve. Banks would connect to the network core, using the Internet, and you would also have the option to connect to the network core, using the Internet, just like banks do. This technology is currently not deployed, and might never be.

With a CBDC system, you would send money to Australia by getting your Australian friend to make an account on the network, then sending $100 to his account, just like in Bitcoin. If he wants to convert it to Australian dollars, that's his problem, but he can just send it to some exchange company and get money at his other Australian CBDC account. Only one intermediate company is needed, and that's because of the currency conversion. No chains.


Or you can choose to only deal with the cash in your wallet.

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If you really want to go to the trouble of starting "something like a bank", a credit union might be the lowest set of hurdles to jump through. But even that is nontrivial, requiring lawyers and accountants and things too fierce to mention rather than (just) software.

For a federal credit union, see

https://ncua.gov/support-services/credit-union-resources-expansion/starting-new-federal-credit-union

There are also non-federal CUs, but I don't have a pointer to how to get one of those started. (I've used both FCUs and non-F CUs, and I still don't grok the actual difference between the two.)

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  • It misses the point, though: "not signing up for a bank account from a bank or company" - credit unions have accounts at other banks, just like banks have accounts at other banks
    – user253751
    Feb 14, 2023 at 19:24
  • Short of storing the value "ubiquitously" as crypto or putting cash into a vault, the money has to be stored somewhere, so I didn't think that was actually the point. If I have misunderstood, perhaps @peterelbert could clarify the question.
    – keshlam
    Feb 14, 2023 at 20:51
  • And the question was "what is the closest you can get", not "can I get exactly this."
    – keshlam
    Feb 15, 2023 at 4:00

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