Dr. Bernice A. King (left) stands with Ashley D. Bell, business partner and CEO of Redemption Holding Company and Ready Life Credit: Credit: Ashley Bell

There have never been enough Black-owned banks. What once was 134 financial institutions is now around 20, with a majority located across the East Coast, Midwest, and South. But later this year, that list could grow by one — and in an unlikely location.

Redemption Holding Company (RHC), a Black-led investment group led by former White House Policy Advisor under former President Donald Trump and Regional Administrator for the Small Business Administration, Ashley D. Bell, is planning to acquire Utah-based Holladay Bank & Trust. If all goes well, the 50-year-old bank could soon be Redemption Bank, becoming not only Black-owned but also the only Minority Depository Institution  — a minority-owned bank providing financial services to underserved communities — west of Texas.

Bell is the CEO and board chairman of RHC and the CEO of Ready Life, a Black-owned fintech startup working with underrepresented and underserved communities to build pathways to homeownership. Collaborating with Bell for both ventures is Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center and the youngest child of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, who will be the senior vice president for impact banking.

Outside of acquiring the bank, the goal is to “partner with other MDIs” and “create a full-service banking platform,” the RHC website says, that serves consumers and business owners, offering lending products like mortgages and loans. While Black people account for 1.6% of the population in Utah, Bell believes the state is favorable as far as bank regulations go.

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