Thank you for being a valuable member of the Varo community.

With the latest public health and economic news, we want to assure you that we are taking steps to ensure our banking and customer services remain uninterrupted so you can focus on taking care of yourself and your family.

We are closely monitoring guidance from the CDC, WHO, and our local health departments to make informed, appropriate actions to ensure the safety of our teams who are supporting you. 

There has never been a more important moment for reliable all-digital financial tools. With Varo, you can access your account and your money through the Varo app and website. 

This is a good moment to make sure you have the latest version of the Varo app so we can optimally serve your needs. As a reminder, Varo allows you to:

We also encourage you to explore our FAQ to answer any immediate questions you may have about your Varo Bank Account. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please email us at help@varomoney.com or call us at 1-800-827-6526. 

We hope you and your family stay healthy during this time.

It’s humbling to think that less than two years ago Varo was still an idea. The banking app had not been released. In July 2017, Varo went live in the App Store, bringing our vision to make banking services better for hard-working Americans to everyone with an iPhone. Just over a year later, that included Android as well.  

Today we serve tens of thousands of customers daily through the app. Thank you for trusting us with your money and leaving such great reviews. We are proud to serve each and every customer!

Our idea for a new banking company has been simple: We don’t charge any hidden fees or gotchas and we do everything we can to keep more money in our customer’s pockets. Simply put: Varo’s mission is to help everyone make progress in their financial lives. This is especially important in a time when many Americans can’t find $400 for an emergency, according to the Fed.

We asked a few Varovians to share what connects them to our mission. Here’s what they told us:

Steve Davis, Engineering

I connect with our mission because I used to have terrible financial health. I had no idea how to budget and avoid fees, how to live debt free, how to invest for the future. My parents never really taught me. When I went into college, I really screwed up my credit score for a while. I was getting overdraft fees from Wells Fargo all the time. Now that I’ve learned how to improve financial health for myself, I want to do the same for our customers.

Philippa Girling, Chief Risk Officer

I’ve worked in banking for a long time but I always wanted to be a part of something new, built from the ground up, that embodies and fosters positive social change. Being part of the Varo team allows me to do exactly that as we are giving people fair access to banking tools.

Brendan Gibson, Web Developer

I get angry about poorly designed user interface with banks and service providers every month when I pay my bills. Varo gives me an opportunity to do web banking right.

Tyler Schwarzkopf, Operations Analyst

I personally love the idea of a bank that actually works for you instead of being intentionally vague and charging fees whenever possible. Banking with an institution that understands that the best interests of their customers are also in the best interests of the business is very refreshing. It’s nice to know that there’s someone still willing to put the customer first in an industry that has become very disconnected!

Mary Ann Miller, Head of Fraud Strategy

Having spent more than two decades in the banking technology industry, I have worked on a lot of teams and products. For too long I saw that customers were not the first thought for companies — but they are at Varo! I’m drawn to Varo’s mission because we celebrate our customers’ successes — and each others. Respect is number one.

Andrew Roddini, Director of Talent Acquisition

Breaking the cycle. I see financial illiteracy as a systemic issue similar to racial or gender bias. It takes a village to make significant changes in these social systemic breakdowns. At Varo, we build products and make decisions by asking ourselves, “Does this help our customers?” I believe Varo’s customer-centric approach is enabling progress towards financial freedom for our users and helping them to break this cycle.

PS We’re hiring! Would you like to help work on the future of banking? Join us.

Our job is to keep your money safe and sound.

One of the ways we do that is by following banking laws and government regulations about how we operate. We take every precaution to keep you and the entire Varo community safe. Sometimes we’ll suspend an account if there is something out of the ordinary happening and we need to verify more information with you.

If you are not able to access your accounts or your account is suspended or frozen, it can be frustrating and downright scary even. We get that. The good news is that if everything is in good standing, this is most likely never going to happen to your account and if your account is suspended it can generally be resolved quickly with an email with our customer service team.

Here are a few reasons your account could get suspended or frozen:

Reason #1 We need more information, or we spot unusual activity.

Most of the time an account is suspended temporarily because we simply need more information. We’ll send you an email right away letting you know what we need; when you respond with that requested information and we can verify it, we can get your account up and running ASAP.

We also know things happen: Your phone or wallet gets stolen; someone other than you tries to get into your bank account; someone has stolen your identity; or maybe an online vendor was shady. Or maybe you’re just traveling to a new place or are making transactions outside your normally scheduled activity. Anytime something happens that’s out of the ordinary, we might temporarily suspend your account to ensure that no one is using your account without your consent.

Our systems are set up to detect any different or unusual behavior and immediately flag the account so we can keep your money safe and sound. Again, the vast majority of the time, all it takes is a quick email with customer service and everything is solved.

Reason #2 We cannot allow certain types of activities.

As a financial company, along with The Bancorp Bank, who issues our bank accounts, we must follow the letter of the law when it comes to banking rules, regulations, and conduct.  A Varo Bank Account cannot be used to do things like online gambling, human trafficking behavior, or any prohibited (selling counterfeit or stolen goods) or illegal activity. This activity may cause the account to be frozen or terminated.

Our regulators include: state regulators; the Federal Reserve Board; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); the Office of the Comptroller and Currency (OCC); and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Each regulation is designed to ensure that every participant in the banking system — that’s thousands of banks and companies across the United States — is operating in a similar way. Following procedures like this is what keeps good order in our national banking system, which is one of the most secure in the world.

In sum, we follow the rules to ensure that individuals with illegal motives — terrorists, fraudsters, and money launderers for example — can’t use our system for criminal activity. These rules help to protect you, keep your money safe, and keep the bad guys out.

Reason #3 We can’t allow accounts to be used for business purposes.

Today, our accounts are set up only for personal use and can’t be used as a bank account for your business. (You can find the legal terms in our Varo Bank Account Agreement.) Your account may be suspended until we get confirmation from you that it’s for personal use. If your account is being used for business purposes, it may be closed.

If you’d like to see Varo add business accounts in the future, please weigh in with our app’s Suggest a Feature. (We read every suggestion!)

More ways we keep you safe and sound

In addition to monitoring your account for unusual activity, we also offer top-tier security features so you can take action and stay safe on your mobile app.

You can instantly lock your card in the app and get automatic account alerts in the app to ensure you know exactly what’s happening in your account at all times.

We also keep access to your mobile app safe with powerful 256-bit AES encryption, access control, secure processes, and audits.

Linking your money apps and other bank accounts with your Varo account just got easier.

Based on your requests for Varo’s app (we listen to everything!), we added two-way integration with Plaid, a service that allows customers to link outside bank accounts to and from each other. A few of the other companies that use Plaid include Venmo, Cash App from Square, and Digit.

With the integration, you can import your Varo data to/from other money apps, instantly verify and initiate fund transfers, and get a better overview of your monthly spending in the Varo app.

Our goal is always to make the experience of banking easier and faster — and improve your financial self with better information. Knowledge is power and when you can see what’s going on in all your accounts, you’re empowered to make better decisions.

“Customers are holding banks to a higher standard and are asking to have their own data available,” James Pelham Burn, product manager at Varo, said. “Varo believes in making its own customer information available. We have a strong principle of openness and this is just one more step in that direction.”

How linking accounts with Varo works

In the Varo app: At the bottom on your accounts page — and in your Dashboard — you can tap to link an outside account. You can search for your other financial providers; once you have selected one, it will ask you to use your login credentials to make the connection with Varo.

To be sure, Varo never sees or stores your login credentials to other companies; consider linking a process where you “unlock a door” so we can see what’s in your other money “room” but we never have the key. Your credentials to your other accounts are always your own private information.

In other apps:You can access your Varo Bank Account and Varo Savings Account from other banks and apps in a very similar way if Plaid is the partner providing linking access. You’ll need your Varo login credentials to connect your Varo account. If you know Plaid is the linking partner for your app and you don’t see Varo, your other app may be limiting choices. Be sure to request that they add Varo!

Happy holidays from Varo

We’re really proud of all the places and backgrounds we represent at Varo—we speak more than 20 languages here! We want to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday and a happy new year in 2019. Click the video below to watch our greeting. (PS We now also speak both iOS and Android!)

Varo CEO Colin Walsh discussed why mobile-only banking is the future on CNBC’s Closing Bell on Sept. 10, 2018. Varo announced it received preliminary approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for a national bank charter on Sept. 5, 2018.

 

While today it seems pretty basic to deposit a check with a click of your camera app, or to send your roommate rent money with a few mobile taps, it wasn’t long ago when handling finances digitally—particularly via smartphone—was science fiction.

Simple tasks like transferring funds or checking one’s account balance required locating a physical branch, making sure you could appear during banking hours, waiting in line, and interacting with real humans.

To be clear, we’re pro-human (especially for sharing pizza and coffee)—but not so much pro standing in line or branches (annoying.) Seriously, how did we navigate finances before the world of banking became available at our fingertips?

As we’ve upgraded from bartering to cash, to plastic, to a desktop, to mobile, there is a clear trend: people pretty consistently favor the quicker, more convenient, more secure options when given the choice.

Now, Varo Money is on the way to becoming the first national all-mobile bank having received preliminary approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for its application of a de novo bank charter. 

History of mobile banking

As mobile use continues to overtake desktop—and as new companies and technology allow for more delightful app experiences—banking as we know it is on track to continue evolving toward its simplest, speediest, most user-friendly form yet. A brief history of mobile banking history below.

timeline of mobile banking history

Sources:
https://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/

https://www.history.com/topics/bank-of-the-united-states http://www.softschools.com/timelines/history_of_banking_in_the_united_states_timeline/375/ https://www.thoughtco.com/automatic-teller-machines-atm-1991236
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2013/05/28/10-things-that-american-women-could-not-do-before-the-1970s/ https://www.gobankingrates.com/banking/history-online-banking/
https://thefinancialbrand.com/25380/yodlee-history-of-internet-banking/
https://mashable.com/2011/08/12/ibm-pc-history/#5kT.20cel8qO
https://www.gobankingrates.com/banking/history-online-banking/
http://www.fintechbd.com/the-history-of-technologyconnecting-money-to-people/

Bank Account Services provided by the The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC.

The Varo Visa® Debit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.

Apple and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank (“Bank”).  Bank is not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

For decades, customer contact centers have built a bad reputation. Customers hate calling them and people hate working there.

I’ve worked in financial services operations roles for more than 20 years and I’ve seen every form of call center: insourced, outsourced, on-shore, off-shore, near-shore, whatever you want to call it.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could hit the reset button and build a contact center using everything I’ve learned over my career? Well, that’s exactly what I love about working for Varo.

We’re building something from the ground up, blending financial and technology experience. We can avoid the issues that have given contact centers a bad name and instead create an environment of happy employees and fiercely loyal customers.

To best frame a strategy for this task, I’ve been thinking about three major points: the product, the employee, and most importantly, the customer.  

Product

It doesn’t matter if you have the best tools, 24/7 coverage, or the most friendly and well-trained staff. Quite simply, if a company has a terrible product, a positive service interaction is simply not going to happen.  

When a product is designed for the customer and when the company listens and adapts to customer needs, you avoid the customer pain points altogether. Interactions can be more friendly and casual, and it will be much easier to create a connection with the customer.  

You’ll hear me say this a lot, but this is another reason why I love working at Varo. This company is ravenous about customer feedback! We listen to our customers…I mean REALLY listen to our customers.  

We compile feedback and trends from emails, phone calls, social media posts, surveys, external feedback sites, personal interviews, and more. Our service team hosts a weekly call where we share all this feedback. I love that our CEO and the leadership team regularly attend this meeting. After hearing about customer experiences, they change priorities where it’s needed.

It’s so hard to fix small customer sticking points when there’s so much pressure to grow and launch new features. Varo’s leadership is dedicated to creating the best mobile banking experience for our customers. We’ve added many new features based on customer feedback, such as higher ATM limits, early direct deposit, the ability to freeze a misplaced card, and many others.   

Varo customer service team

Say hi to Varo’s customer team in Salt Lake City.

Employee

There are so many reasons why people don’t like working in customer contact centers: low pay, minimal training, no career progression, rigid schedules, boring work, unsatisfied customers (see Product above). These are all problems that can be fixed with the right tools and structures, but I’m convinced that the real cause for employee unhappiness is the concept that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” This has been especially true in my career.  

In 22 years, I’ve never been unhappy with the work I’m doing, but my leader has a huge influence on my sense of fulfillment and happiness at work. I think this is especially true with contact center roles. In current corporate cultures, when someone does well in their position, they are immediately thrust into a leadership position. The skills needed to excel in the previous role are rarely the same skills needed to be a great leader.  

As we build our service team, we look for people who will perform well AND have the potential to be great leaders. When they are promoted into leadership roles, I will encourage them to do the same. I also believe that the role of live phone agent has been approached completely backward.

For most financial services companies, a live phone service position is considered entry level. That means low pay, minimal training, and high turnover.

As a banking company that has no branches, our service team is more like a personal banker; they are the face of our business.  Can we reliably trust this responsibility to a brand new employee? This trust should be earned only by the best and proven employees. It’s time to turn this decades-old paradigm on its side and start approaching the live phone agents as the pinnacle of customer service roles. They should be experienced, tenured, and highly trained. This should not be an entry-level position.

Customer

If the product is dialed in and the employee is happy, you are destined to create a fantastic customer experience. From there, the only thing you need to worry about is the contact channel.

Some financial services firms have invested all their time and money into live phone servicing, and those same companies shy away from engaging customers in the public eye of social media. It’s hard for them to shift the strategy and re-train how customers contact them.

Of course, we’ll be there for our customers if they want to call us on the phone, but how (and when) does our younger tech-savvy customer base prefer to contact us? Back to the fun part of this job: we get to decide how to build this machine. We’re working with up and coming technology providers to securely engage our customers across all channels. Seriously…what other financial service will respond to your Insta DMs late into the evening?

Just as Varo was built to revolutionize the banking industry, our Service and Operations team is doing the same thing with customer contact strategy. We’re just getting started, and there’s a long and challenging road ahead of us, but the opportunity to build it the way we want it is exciting! The perfect mix of customer-centric products and happy employees will create the best customer experiences in the industry.       

Aaron Valentine is the head of Varo’s customer service team based in Salt Lake City.

 

We have released our new Transaction Alerts feature to help you track your money in real time. It was a top-voted feature request from customers in our Suggest a Feature—and we’re thrilled to make it live.

What are Varo Transaction Alerts?

Every time money moves in or out of your Varo Bank Account—whether that’s a purchase with your Varo Visa® Debit Card or a direct deposit, debit, or transferwe’ll send you a notification showing you the details of the transaction and your updated balance.

You can easily turn this feature on or off under Notifications in the app’s Settings menu.

Why is real-time money tracking important?

Debit cards and electronic payments are the most prevalent ways to make transactions these days—and it can be too easy to use a card or make a payment and not know what’s happening to your balance.

Enter technology.

By enabling Transaction Alerts through the Varo app, you can develop a more accurate daily view of your money and balance—and that awareness can help you budget better, see where your money is going, and identify any spending issues.

It’s just one more way we’re living our mission to improve the financial health of everyone, one step at a time. Turn it on today and let us know how it’s going.

The first step to living well is knowing how much you have to live on. With Varo, you can see all your money in one place.

Easily link your existing checking, credit cards, loans, and savings accounts in Varo. Within a few taps, you’ll have more confidence and control from your new view of your finances.

For example, knowing how much you’re spending on restaurants across all of your accounts and credit cards will make it easier than ever to decide whether to go out to eat with friends or stay in and do a potluck instead.

See that you need to move money into your Varo Bank Account* to pay off a bill? With your outside accounts linked, you can move money into your Varo Bank Account in just a few taps. This way, you can make sure you have the right amount of money in your Varo Bank Account at the right time.

To link your existing accounts, follow these three easy steps:

  1. Open the Varo app, tap Accounts, then tap Add an Account, and then choose the bank you want to link. If you don’t see the bank immediately, try searching for it.
  2. Enter your bank’s login credentials and answer any other security question that might pop up.
  3. Repeat until you’ve linked all of your accounts.

With a complete picture of your money, managing your money with confidence has never been easier.

Welcome to banking as it should be.