Welcome to The Interchange! If you happen to obtained this in your inbox, thanks for signing up and your vote of confidence. If you happen to’re studying this as a put up on our website, join here so you’ll be able to obtain it straight sooner or later. Each week, I’ll check out the most popular fintech information of the earlier week. This may embody every part from funding rounds to tendencies to an evaluation of a specific area to scorching takes on a specific firm or phenomenon. There’s a whole lot of fintech information on the market and it’s my job to remain on high of it — and make sense of it — so you’ll be able to keep within the know. — Mary Ann
Q&A with Dave founder Jason Wilk
Proper earlier than the Silicon Valley Financial institution meltdown, I had a dialog with Jason Wilk, founder and CEO of neobank Dave, about that firm’s enterprise. I used to be intrigued as a result of the financial institution — which counted Mark Cuban as one among its traders as a personal firm — took what some may say was a backward path to changing into a financial institution. Moderately than begin out providing checking and financial savings, it labored its method there. And the technique appears to have paid off for the fintech firm, which went public in January of 2022. It not too long ago reported 45% larger GAAP income of $59.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2022, up 45% from the identical interval the 12 months prior. Listed here are excerpts of my interview with Wilk, which have been edited for brevity and readability.
TC: Are you benefiting from larger rates of interest, and in that case, how?
JW: It is a difficult place for progress firms, who might have entry to extra capital to finally get it as a result of the price of capital is much more costly because of the rates of interest.
That’s one of many the explanation why our inventory has come down a lot — given we aren’t but worthwhile, though near it. The advantage of larger rates of interest for purchasers is that they will earn larger curiosity on financial savings and deposits, and we do profit from that as nicely, as we are able to earn further revenue from the upper charges. However I’d say general that the very best rate of interest setting is extra unfavourable than optimistic on the enterprise.
You’ve talked about a path to profitability. When do you see that occuring?
Final 12 months we had been 8 to 10 quarters out. Now we’re 4 to six quarters away from once we count on the corporate to be worthwhile. We had been earlier than in 2018 and 2019, so we’ve been there earlier than. We’ve added a ample quantity of employees to construct our future roadmap and have 1.9 million month-to-month transacting members on to Dave. We have to get 2.2 million to 2.4 million prospects to get to profitability/break even. We don’t want to lift capital or some other liquidity.
Our anchor characteristic that disrupted overdraft charges is our Further Money product, which lets folks borrow small quantities of cash and now stand up to a $500 money advance [that limit was increased from $250 to $500 last summer) with up to 14 days to pay it back, with no late fees and no interest. Then in 2020 during the pandemic, the government was giving away a lot of free money via stimulus dollars and so there was less of a need for it and our marketing message was less resonant during that time.
So that’s why in 2021, we grew the business about 26%, and we’ve really ramped things back up as things are returning closer to normal.
You launched banking services not that long ago. How is that going?
Dave was focused on Extra Cash Product but then our most requested feature is that people wanted to bank with Dave. So at the end of 2021 we launched our own checking account, and as of the second and third quarter of 2022, that was going so well we decided to just become a full-on bank and give a checking account to every customer, and now every new and existing member is a banking member. And because of that broader expansion, and now that every customer has a card, we were able to grow the banking business 90% year over year.
So you did not start out as a full-blown neobank — you sort of evolved into one. That must have helped lower your CAC (customer acquisition costs).
Yes, that’s right. It was always the plan if you go back to our seed deck. We realized that CAC to acquire banking customers is very high.
And now it’s a very big strategic focus of the company. We think it gives us the ability to stay with our customers a lot longer and become their primary banking destination. Our strategy moving forward is, “Hey you can still get Extra Cash and send the money to your Chase account, but now we have this Dave debit card, which you can access the money even faster and also you can put your paycheck in here and stop paying things like minimum balance fees and customer support fees and all the other things that banks are trying to charge for it this point.”
We saw our cost of acquisition going down actually — 31% year over year in 2022 over 2021. We acquired about 550,000 new members in the fourth quarter alone.
How else do you continuously make yourself relevant to customers so they don’t outgrow your services?
One way is to let the customer decide on a payback date that’s fair to them and that aligns with their next paycheck date. It’s a guaranteed amount of money that you can tap into paycheck to paycheck, and it does not require any kind of mandatory fee. So instead of paying your bank $38, you can choose to tip Dave, anywhere from zero to 10% of the amount we give you. On average our tip is around $4. And it’s less risky for Dave, because we’re advancing money, not loaning it.
I started Dave because I was frustrated by all the overdraft fees being charged by the big banks. I felt it was unfair to charge reliable customers such a large fee against a negative balance knowing they will be brought back whole in a couple of days.
How does AI come into play with all of this?
We’ve gotten really good with our AI engine, which is able to very accurately detect somebody’s income and understand how risky it might be to give somebody the money before they get paid. And because of that AI engine, we’ve gotten default rates down to about 2%. And we’ve been able to increase the amount of money we give away so it’s just gotten a lot better over the years.
We also use AI with customer support, over 50% of our support responses are with a chatbot. That also brings down costs. We have 320 employees and most banks have over 100,000 employees. Higher headcount often leads to higher prices for consumers.
Now, Dave is not the only digital bank reporting impressive numbers. Grasshopper Bank, a digital bank for businesses, earlier this month reported that its assets reached over $620 million, up 108% year over year and that its total revenues exceeded $17 million in 2022, representing 39% growth year over year.
Reports Romain Dillet: “Fintech startup Checkout.com is better known for its payment processing service, but the company is launching a new product…: its customers can now create payment cards for their own customers. The company has been testing Checkout.com Issuing for a while, and millions of cards have already been created with the new service. Checkout.com supports physical cards as well as virtual cards that can be used multiple times or can be set to be disabled after the first payment.” More here.
Reports Sarah Perez: “Amazon may be closing a number of its high-tech physical retail stores in recent days, but some of the technology it developed for those stores is finding a new home. The online retailer said that Panera will now become the first restaurant to deploy Amazon’s palm reading payment and loyalty system, known as Amazon One, in its own stores, allowing its customers to both pay as well as access the chain’s loyalty program.” More here.
Also from Sarah: “Restaurant delivery service DoorDash announced it will begin to support the ability for customers to pay with cash for their online orders. But there’s a catch — the feature is only being rolled out to DoorDash’s white-label delivery solution for restaurants, DoorDash Drive, which allows restaurant owners to offer delivery from their own website or app while tapping into DoorDash’s courier network. The company says that, during tests, Chinese restaurants and pizza shops have been early adopters of the feature.” More here.
Reports Christine Hall: “Payments and shopping service Klarna is the latest company to announce its integration with ChatGPT. The company said it is “one of the first brands to work with OpenAI to use its protocol to build an integrated Plugin for ChatGPT” and is rolling out a personalized shopping experience that provides product recommendations when Klarna users ask for shopping advice, inspiration and product links via Klarna’s search and compare tool.” More here.
From me: Roofstock on March 22 laid off about 27% of its staff, just five months after the property technology startup laid off 20% of its workforce. The online marketplace for investing in leased single-family rental homes one year ago raised $240 million at a $1.9 billion valuation. According to the email, co-founder and CEO Gary Beasley said the reduction in force (RIF) was “in response to the challenging macro environment” and the “negative impact” it is having on Roofstock’s business. More here.
The company’s website states that it has 400+ employees, or “Roofsters,” as they’re dubbed, but it is not known if that figure is current.
Hindenburg Research issued a report that tore into payments company Block (formally known as Square) after a two-year investigation, alleging that the company “facilitated fraudsters,” reported Bloomberg. Among the allegations, Bloomberg reported, the report charged that “Block’s wildly popular Cash App was likely facilitating scammers taking advantage of government-stimulus programs during the pandemic.” Issuance of the report’s findings led to Block saying it would explore legal action against Hindenburg. The allegations hit the company’s stock price, which slid by 15% on March 23, the day the report was released.
F-Prime Capital published a State of Fintech Report earlier this year (which we covered in-depth here). But one area we didn’t dive into was the LatAm fintech findings. F-Prime points out that there are five Latin American companies in the F-Prime Fintech Index: Nubank, PagSeguro, Mercado Libre, Stone and dLocal. Nubank and dLocal were among the 10 largest exits during 2020 and 2021, and both saw significant declines in their stocks. But, F-Prime pointed out via email, that “scaled LatAm fintech companies are still growing at high rates,” with Nubank growing LTM (last 12 months) revenue by 117% and Mercado Libre growing by 54%. Also, interestingly, it found that four out of the five Latin American companies in the Fintech Index have a payment business model.
Insider published a couple of articles about HR/fintech startup Deel this past week, taking a look at the company’s culture, its practice of hiring so many independent contractors (event its CEO is one!) and the question of whether employees were misclassified as independent contractors. You can read those articles here and here.
Fundings and M&A
Seen on TechCrunch
ICYMI — a great piece of storytelling: A $500 million term sheet in 12 hours: How Rippling struck a deal as SVB was melting down
Welp, that’s it for this week. Thank you so much for reading, and sharing. Your support means the world! xoxo, Mary Ann