Citibank is offering surcharge-free ATM access to the customers of 16 credit unions and minority-owned banks in six cities.

Citi began testing its ATM Community Network on Thursday; the initiative was announced at a meeting this week of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's advisory committee on minority depository institutions.

The company still has to decide how long the pilot will run or where it will expand next, Will Howle, Citi's head of U.S. retail banking, said in an interview.

The initial service will be available to more than 300,000 consumers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Washington. Customers of the 16 partner banks will have "the same access that [Citi] clients have," including after hours, Howle said.

The goal is to provide more affordable and convenient banking services to customers of these smaller institutions, especially those with low incomes.

"We share the same goals as these banks and credit unions around access to safe, affordable financial products and services," Howle said. "We're reducing these client costs, so we're expanding access to them as well improving convenience."

While there will be no surcharges from Citi, customers may still have to pay a fee to their home banks if they charge one for use of foreign ATMs, according to Citi.

Citi also said it would not profit from the venture.

Citibank's partners are District Government Employees Federal Credit Union; Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union; Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union; New York University Federal Credit Union; Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union; Quontic Bank; North Jersey Federal Credit Union; Northeast Community Federal Credit Union; Southern California Edison Federal Credit Union; University of Southern California Credit Union; Family Federal Credit Union; JetStream Federal Credit Union; Self-Help Federal Credit Union; Broadway Federal Bank; Continental National Bank; and Executive National Bank.

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