Pittsburgh ice cream 'bank' draws regulator's ire

By The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — State regulators are cool on a Pittsburgh businessman’s idea for a bank that pays interest in ice cream shop gift cards.

The Pennsylvania Department of Banking says they want Ethan Clay to shut down the community bank he’s set up at Oh Yeah! ice cream and coffee shop.

Clay says he was motivated by unpleasant bank experiences to provide a simplified community bank offering savings accounts, check-cashing and loans. He calls the venture Whalebone Cafe Bank.

Clay tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he’s not subject to the usual banking rules because his “bank” is actually a gift card program that pays out its 5.5 percent monthly interest in a made-up currency that can be used at his store.

Regulators are unmoved. Banking department spokesman Ed Novak says if Clay doesn’t close down “he will be hearing from the district attorney.”