App Built “by Immigrants, for Immigrants” Will Give Huge Underserved Market the Banking Services They Need for the Way They Live and Work Today
B9 Inc., a fintech startup, announced it is launching a full suite of app-based financial services. The company raised $1.7 million in an ongoing pre-seed funding round and is building out a platform to address the needs of a huge market of potential customers who are underserved by traditional banks. The company plans to use the funds to scale up with additional staff and technology investments, aiming to reach 100,000 customers by the end of 2021.
Founded by fintech veterans with extensive consumer finance experience across four continents, B9 is designed to provide an alternative for “unbanked” people, often first or second-generation immigrants, who are targeted by predatory lenders. B9 can help eliminate predatory lending with a no-interest (0% APR) pay advance offer. This feature helps customers who are outside the traditional banking system get bank-grade services on excellent terms, providing financial inclusion for people who are new to the U.S.
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The potential market is enormous with more than 40 million non-U.S. born people residing in the U.S., including at least 15 million undocumented immigrants who are on the fast track to securing residency. Immigrants in the U.S. already have over $1 trillion in spending power, and the U.S. Census forecasts up to 80% of U.S. population growth will be driven by immigrants, and the market is on the upswing. Despite the need and opportunity, traditional banks are not providing the services these customers need.
B9 intends to give these customers a fairly priced subscription option that lets them manage personal finances, build a credit history, shop with a debit card and make unlimited cash transfers. The early wage access program is just the start; B9 aims to provide its customers access to a variety of value-added services, including merchant discounts and ecommerce benefits and access to insurance, cross-border money transfers and international bill payment tools and more via a B9 marketplace.
With B9, customers who are underserved by traditional banks will get access to services like direct payroll deposit with interest-free payroll advance options and a free virtual VISA® debit card linked to Apple Pay for online or offline shopping. B9 customers can send cash to family members with B9 accounts in the U.S. or around the world, pay bills with the app and get additional cards for family members. Bank accounts are insured by the FDIC, and PCI-DSS encryption protects customer data.
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“Immigrant communities and other marginalized groups are invisible to traditional banks,” said B9 CEO Sergei Terentyev, himself an immigrant who previously cofounded and led Latam, a NASDAQ-listed fintech company, prior to launching B9. “They are hardworking people who deserve a full service banking option that fits the way they earn and spend. The response to B9 has been overwhelming, with hundreds of thousands of people joining our waiting list and a 15% conversion rate.”
Setting up a B9 account is simple, and a low monthly subscription fee covers unlimited usage of B9 financial services. Customers can set up direct payroll deposit using the app or a paper form and then get paid up to 15 days early after the first salary is deposited in their account, up to 100% of monthly income. Applicants need a U.S. residence mailing address, SSN or ITIN and government-issued ID to apply (from a U.S. source or their country of origin). Customer service is available in multiple languages.
“We’re grateful to our investors and excited about the opportunity to bring a full suite of modern financial services to this underserved group,” Terentyev said. “In our view, access to banking services that allow families to share resources, build credit and plan for the future is an equality issue, and the early response we’ve seen demonstrates the magnitude of the demand. We look forward to scaling our team and building out the platform to meet that demand and help people get ahead financially.”
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