The Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) is a community of startups, financial services companies and nonprofit organizations building FinTech solutions that help consumers prepare for – and weather – financial shocks. In 2016, EARN was one of nine winners, and the only nonprofit, selected to participate in the FinLab. Winners were selected based on their ability to improve consumers’ financial health. Each winner will receive $250,000 in capital and additional resources to test, enhance and scale the availability of their products and services. More information and graphics are available at bit.ly/FinLabInfo.
“We have been blown away by the quality of applicants in this year’s class of the Financial Solutions Lab,” said Jennifer Tescher, CEO of CFSI. “It’s encouraging to see so many startups and nonprofits innovating around financial health, and offering solutions that can help the 57 percent of Americans who continue to struggle financially.”
EARN CEO, Leigh Phillips says. “It is an honor to be selected. EARN’s savings interventions and tools are changing the lives of low-income families across the United States, and the FinLab will help us scale and test our savings solutions.”
“Innovation through technology provides an opportunity to increase access to tools that help people manage the inevitable financial shocks that negatively impact households, and ultimately our communities and economy,” said Karen Keogh, Head of Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to use our expertise to help FinLab winners improve their products and make financial health a reality for more communities.”
The issue of financial shocks was selected as the challenge topic for this competition, because research from Pew Charitable Trusts, CFSI, and the JPMorgan Chase Institute all points to that fact that financial shocks impact more than half of all Americans, and that people from across the income spectrum do not have a financial buffer that can help them to weather such unanticipated expenses. This year’s winners each offer a solution to tackle this issue.
The 2016 winners were selected from a pool of over 300 applicants across the United States. They participated in a live pitch-off in New Orleans at CFSI and Source Media’s annual EMERGE Conference, which gathers banks, credit unions, fintech innovators and other financial services providers to generate ideas around the new era of financial services.
Meet the Winners
- EARN (San Francisco, CA) – EARN is a national nonprofit that gives working families the tools to achieve life-changing goals like saving for college, buying a first home, or starting a small business. The EARN Starter Savings Program helps low-income households manage financial shocks by teaching and incentivizing regular savings behavior. The program starts a long-term habit of saving and promotes positive financial behavior through easy-to-use tools backed by small monetary incentives.
- Albert (Los Angeles, CA) – Albert is a mobile app that improves financial health with practical financial advice and in-app actions that can be taken. Albert partners with handpicked financial institutions — like banks, lenders, and insurers — to seamlessly integrate their services within Albert’s app experience.
- Bee (New York, NY) – Bee partners with Community Federal Savings Bank to offer alternatives to checking and savings accounts to its customers in New York and California. Bee has pioneered an innovative capital-light model using pop-up kiosks and street teams to sign up customers in-person for financial services at significantly lower cost than with traditional brick-and-mortar bank branches.
- EarnUp (San Francisco, CA) – EarnUp is a pro-consumer community dedicated to helping every American simplify their financial life and save. EarnUp’s loan optimization platform intelligently syncs micropayments with income and automates real-time savings based on the consumer’s personal lifestyle and finances.
- eCreditHero (New York, NY) – 80 percent of credit reports contain an error. For the 108 million Americans whose credit score prevents access to quality credit, the process to repair these errors can be intimidating and overwhelming. eCreditHero helps consumers fix their credit for free, helping to qualify the unqualified and unleash large untapped markets for financial services.
- Everlance (San Francisco, CA) – Everlance is an app that allows freelancers to automatically track their business miles and expenses. Everlance leverages this data to help freelancers make better financial decisions. Today, more than 10,000 people rely on Everlance.
- Remedy (San Francisco, CA) – Remedy protects consumers from medical bill errors and overcharges, saving the average family over $1,000 per year. Acting on behalf of the patient, Remedy intercepts every bill, resolves any errors directly with providers, and makes it easy for patients to pay the correct balance online.
- Scratch (San Francisco, CA) – Scratch is a modern-day loan servicer that delivers a borrower-first experience by leveraging technology to significantly improve the consumers’ ability to understand, manage, and repay their loans while helping transform the servicing ecosystem for both borrowers and lenders.
- WiseBanyan (New York, NY) – WiseBanyan, a free financial advisor, builds and manages tailored investment plans to reach financial milestones, such as retirement, creating a rainy-day fund, or purchasing a home. Clients simply link a bank account and WiseBanyan’s end-to-end infrastructure automates the achievement of their financial goals.
Each company will receive networking and advisory opportunities to grow and scale their business, $250,000 in capital in a form suited to their needs, as well as the following benefits:
- National partnership opportunities to help innovators increase the reach of their products
- Access to the CFSI network
- Mentorship by JPMorgan Chase executives, and other industry leaders, including FinLab’s own Entrepreneur-In-Residence and FinLab year-one member Tyler Griffin, founder and CEO of Prism
- Professional services assistance from industry leaders, including CFSI, ideas 42, IDEO.org, Paul Hastings, Promontory Financial and others
- Peer learning opportunities via in-person retreats throughout the year and regular virtual working sessions
STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT
“Financial shocks, like an unexpected illness or job loss, can have a devastating and often long-term impact on a household,” said Andrea Levere, President, CFED. “I applaud CFSI and JPMorgan Chase for tackling this issue through the Financial Solutions Lab and am pleased to see so many mission-oriented innovators targeting low-income communities. CFED looks forward to working with these innovators to help expand their reach to those who need it most.”
“IDEO.org is inspired by this new class of innovators and the breadth of solutions they’ve created to address this massive challenge,” said Tim Brown, CEO and President, IDEO. “We look forward to working with the Financial Solutions Lab class again to encourage the use of design principles to maximize the impact of the products for low-income households
“With this most recent batch of winning companies, the FinLab has once again proven itself as the preeminent program for entrepreneurs who are working to improve consumer financial health in the United States,” said Sheel Mohnot, Partner, 500 Startups. “The team at 500 Startups is thrilled to continue to collaborate with CFSI, JPMorgan Chase and the FinLab to achieve our shared goal of building ‘fintech for the rest of us’.”
“I’ve been thrilled to serve on the FinLab’s Advisory Council and see, firsthand, the impact the Lab has on the companies they support and on the broader Fintech industry,” said Ann Lamont, Managing Partner, Oak Investment Partners. “The Lab is playing an important role in fostering innovation that improves consumer financial health. I am honored to be part of this important effort!”
“Lower-income households tend to face many more restrictions on how they can access their money and manage their finances, which is the opposite of what they need to cope with the greater levels of volatility they face,” said Ida Rademacher, Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program. “I commend the FinLab for recognizing this reality and dedicating its second year to raising up solutions that will help households become more resilient in the face of economic shocks.”
About the Financial Solutions Lab (FinLab)
The Financial Solutions Lab is a $30 million, five-year initiative managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co. to identify, test and expand the availability of promising innovations that help Americans increase savings, improve credit, and build assets. The lab will launch a series of competitions to identify solutions to specific consumer financial challenges. It will provide incentives for entrepreneurs, businesses, and nonprofits to enhance financial products and services that address these challenges and improve consumers’ financial health. For more information, visit http://finlab.cfsinnovation.com.