ONLINE BANK: Walmart chooses Even for Employee PFM, which raises $40 Million

We are big fans of Fintech companies that actually make  lives better by creating good behavior, removing costs, and improving planning. A decade back, several personal financial management companies (PFMs) like Mint, Wesabe and Gezeo tried to make budgeting and planning easily accessible to regular people. Despite some nice exits, generally speaking, PFMs failed to make a dent in the fact that 70% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. And often, the timing of the paychecks (every two weeks) doesn't align with costs (all the time), which leads low income households to resort to credit card debt and payday lenders. So software should solve this right? Not if you have a customer acquisition cost problem and can't scale.

Startup Even has done a nice job building around this. The solution is deployed either direct to consumer or by companies to their employees (like HelloWallet or Securing Life Today). Features include getting an interest-free advance on your paycheck, budgeting using data aggregation, and goal-based drip-savings like Acorns or Digit. What we are seeing is a massive polish of customer experience on several fintech ideas, now built natively for mobile and deployed at scale.

How did they get around the customer acquisition problem? By partnering with Walmart, which has 1.4 million workers in the target demographic for this app. Leveraging this partnership, Even just raised $40 million to deliver on the premise. You don't need to be a financial institution that makes product to make a financial difference. And Walmart is making other  moves as well, like switching from Synchrony to Capital One to offer digitally enabled credit cards, controlling the brand but not having to be an issuer. If your financial products are not smart, they are commodities to be traded in and out of the feature set.