By ET Bureau - March 06, 2020 3 Mins Read
Empower, a high-growth mobile banking app in the US challenger bank category announced $20 million in Series A funding. The financing included participation from new investors Icon Ventures, Defy Ventures, and David Velez, Founder, and CEO of Nubank, one of the most valuable financial technology startups in the world. Existing investors Sequoia Capital and Initialized Capital also joined this round. Empower has created a distinctive consumer banking experience that combines AI and human coaching to power an innovative suite of personal finance solutions, including high-yield deposit products, easy budgeting and spend tracking, bill negotiation and subscription management, and personalized recommendations to empower Millennials to make better financial decisions. Empower is the first to bring all of these features into one seamless mobile app that helps Americans effortlessly save more than ever before. This latest financing follows the company’s successful launch of high-interest checking and automated savings accounts at 1.60% APY with no minimums, no overdraft fees, and unlimited withdrawals*.
“Empower is democratizing access to financial experts and products that used to be available to only the top 1% wealthiest people,” said Warren Hogarth, Co-Founder, and CEO of Empower. “There’s a growing demand in the market for financial knowledge to be more practical – and that means actionable, personalized information in real-time to create better outcomes. We combine human coaching with the latest technology, including AI, to continuously monitor our customers’ accounts and provide intelligent alerts, prompts, and analyses to improve their financial decision-making at the moment and build financial literacy. We’ve designed every product feature to make it dead-simple to save more and grow their wealth.”
Empower’s instantaneous digital intelligence is complemented by human coaching to guide customers through more difficult or unique financial challenges Millennials face, including planning for retirement while managing student loan debt. Empower is investing in data science as well as a team of financial experts who are on standby to help customers navigate the more complex questions for their specific circumstances. These human coaches are Millennial and well-versed in money management across credit, loans, investments, and more. The objective is to deliver tangible, positive outcomes and give people greater agency and confidence as they navigate their financial life.
“Today’s generation needs and wants more from their bank,” said Tom Mawhinney, General Partner at Icon Ventures. “Most challenger banks are trying to tackle small parts of a more significant problem, like minimizing fees or early direct deposit or improving the design. Empower has a broader mission to improve financial well-being and independence through personal impact – and that means giving people a complete toolset incorporating digital plus human mentorship to save more and make their money work harder. The company is unlocking possibilities on a whole different scale.”
A Gallup poll indicated when Millennials become unhappy or dissatisfied with their bank, they’re not afraid to make a change and are 2.5x more likely than Baby Boomers and 1.5x more likely than Gen Xers to switch banks. Empower is appealing to a new generation of young tech-savvy customers who are hungry for financial knowledge – the guidance they see lacking in traditional banking. That sentiment is fueling a powerful new movement toward startups that offer more than just a place to deposit and withdraw their money.
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