It’s no secret that Covid-19 forced many of us to reevaluate our finances, whether from a position of comfort or necessity. The 11 personal finance startups honored on Forbes’ 2021 Fintech 50 list sailed above the competition while helping their customers navigate strong crosscurrents—nearly one in six Americans faced unemployment in April 2020, while the personal savings rate skyrocketed to 33.7% that same month (a 350% year-over-year spike) as the first round of federal stimulus checks started flowing and those who held onto their jobs stopped spending on restaurants, travel and all those other suddenly verboten activities.
Folks had to park their paychecks—and their stimulus money—somewhere. Five digital quasi-banks made our list this year; their total number of accounts escalated as consumers became more comfortable with the idea of banking mostly online amid a boom year for ecommerce (and social distancing). Chime, now valued at $14.5 billion, remains the largest in this space. It’s joined by Dave, Current and newcomers Varo Bank and MoCaFi (a portmanteau of “Mobility Capital Finance”), which specifically aims to serve Black and Hispanic communities that have less access to traditional brick-and-mortar banks.
Before founding MoCaFi in 2015, CEO Wole Coaxum held positions at Citi, JPMorgan and other traditional banks.
Courtesy of MoCaFi
In an effort to differentiate themselves, some fintechs are taking a generational approach. With a $2.3 billion valuation, Greenlight offers educational money management tools—and even the ability to buy fractional shares—to kids and teens, for a monthly fee paid by their parents. Truebill’s free app helps Millennials keep track of their spending and it can even automatically cancel underutilized subscriptions (looking at you, Disney+).
Another cohort hopes to help low-income households typically left behind by the traditional banking industry. In addition to MoCaFi, there’s Esusu, a startup that helps people build credit by reporting rent payments to credit bureaus. Propel’s mobile app helps food stamp recipients track their balances, and it partnered with a nonprofit last year to deliver more than $140 million in $1,000 cash payments directly to users hit hard by the pandemic. Tala, which offers micro-loans to customers with little or no formal borrowing history in countries including Mexico and India, is once again extending credit at pre-pandemic levels after a tough start to 2020.
Here are the 11 personal finance companies that made Forbes’ Fintech 50 list for 2021:
Headquarters: San Francisco
Digital bank offering no-fee checking accounts, a debit card and overdraft protection of up to $200. Last year it boosted sign-ups by offering customers early access to their federal stimulus checks and launching a …….