There's a policy debate underway over whether Congress or banking regulators should force banks to offer "plain vanilla" products. It looks like at least one bank isn't waiting for the government mandate, though. The New York Times reports that "Bank of America is promoting a line of consumer products so simple that the terms and conditions fit on one page. The BankAmericard Basic Visa, for instance, has no rewards and a single interest rate." It's an open question whether the bank would have done this without the threat of government action, or without knowing that the government owns tens of billions of dollars in preferred shares of the bank. But it's certainly possible that one of the nifty things about capitalism is its ability to dynamically self-correct. If a bank actually finds it profitable to market to customers with the pitch that its products are less complicated and more easy to understand than the competitors' products are, that might be a good thing, no? Customers who want vanilla might be able to get it without congressional action. In this case, the bank -- even a huge one that is part-owned by the government -- has moved faster than Congress has. The bank already has a product in the marketplace -- it even has a trademark on the word "basic" -- while Congress hasn't passed the financial services regulatory overhaul.
Bank of America Tries Vanilla