Fast-growing mobile banking app sees viral adoption in major cities as it meets critical financial needs traditional banks aren’t addressing.
SAN FRANCISCO – October 1, 2019 – Mobile banking company Varo Money, Inc. today announced the unveiling of a new brand, which includes a bold new design in the app along with a new wordmark and introduction of a mountain goat icon, which will appear on new Varo debit cards. The launch of the new brand highlights Varo’s connection to the real challenges everyday Americans face to make ends meet and get ahead. The new brand illustrates Varo’s commitment to delivering intelligent, empathetic, and inclusive banking for all. The mountain goat represents the trusted companion Varo aims to be to the many Americans facing a climb in achieving their financial goals.
“More than half of Americans can use help getting ahead financially—and Varo Money is here to serve all of them with an experience that brings much-needed customer respect back to banking,” said Colin Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Varo Money. “I started this company to make a positive and meaningful financial impact in people’s lives—and that has meant challenging incumbent practices and reimagining every part of banking as people know it today. In a world of growing inequality, people want their bank to help them get ahead—not charge them fees or make them feel ‘less than’.”
Varo Money is the first fintech company to receive preliminary approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to open as the first mobile-centric national bank. In August 2019, Varo launched No Fee Overdraft, one of the first services of its kind where customers can overdraft their bank account balance up to $50 with no fee and no interest when they meet certain eligibility requirements.* The service, requested by thousands of customers, is designed to bring more flexibility to paying bills in between paychecks. Meanwhile, incumbent financial institutions charged $34.5 billion in overdraft fees alone last year and the vast majority of overdraft fee revenue came from customers who could least afford it.
As the company approaches 1 million registered users, a notable factor has been the success of word-of-mouth referrals in major U.S. cities including Atlanta, San Antonio, Charlotte, El Paso, and Hartford (the top five cities for referred customers.) Varo’s growth and popularity in a diverse set of American cities underscores how the brand and products are meeting the changing financial needs in this country. More than 70% of all Americans are considered financially vulnerable or coping, according to the Financial Health Network, a leading authority on financial health.
A recent survey from Varo demonstrated just how strapped many young Americans are when it comes to meeting basic expenses. According to the survey, 62% of millennials have had to cut back or give something up just to pay for a tank of gas in the past year; 14% have had to do this almost every month. A 2018 survey from Varo Money showed that 61% of millennials don’t even have access to $500 in emergency cash.
By using Varo, people could save up to hundreds of dollars in bank and overdraft fees. Customers are also eligible to get paid two days faster** with direct deposit through the bank account’s Early Direct Deposit feature. Customers with a Varo Savings Account can also set up auto-savings features to build savings and earn up to 2.80% Annual Percentage Yield*** with no minimum balance requirement.
In contrast, the majority (59%) of traditional non-interest checking accounts require a minimum balance or monthly service fee. The average minimum balance requirement to avoid the monthly service fee is more than $630/month; less than half would waive the fee with direct deposit. The most common overdraft fee is $35.
The company has added significant hires to its executive team including Smith Forté as the Chief Product Officer, who previously was at micro-investing platform Acorns, and August de los Reyes as Chief Design Officer, joining Varo from Google and formerly head of design at Pinterest and Xbox. Earlier this year the company hired Deep Varma as Chief Technical Officer, formerly of Trulia. Varo’s extraordinary new team is taking bold steps to design a technology driven experience redefining banking to be empathetic, intelligent and inclusive.
“In the 200-year history of financial services in the United States, we believe that banks have typically served only a narrow subset of the population well and everyone else has been excluded in explicit and implicit ways,” says August de los Reyes, Varo’s Chief Design Officer. “In thinking about design for Varo, we look at who has been excluded and ask ourselves ‘What do they need to get ahead?’ Those answers create an experience which address as many people as possible and ultimately are beneficial to everyone.”
Varo is working to become the first mobile-centric national bank in U.S. history, and believes banking should be fee-free, easy, and accessible to everyone through a smartphone.
Varo bank account services are provided by The Bancorp Bank; Member FDIC.
Varo Money, Inc. (“Varo”) is on a mission to help people make progress with their financial lives. In one mobile app, Varo offers customers no-cost† premium bank accounts, high-interest savings accounts, and tech-first features to help people save and manage their money more easily. As a fintech leader, Varo has been granted preliminary approval for a de novo national bank charter by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and is working to become the first mobile-centric national bank in U.S. history. Varo Personal Loans are offered by Varo Money, Inc., under state licenses, subject to application approval. For more information, visit www.nofeeoverdraft.com or www.varomoney.com, like Varo on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @varomoney.
*To be eligible for No Fee Overdraft, customers must make at least 5 debit card purchases each calendar month; receive payroll or government direct deposits of at least $1,000 each calendar month into their Varo Bank Account; and opt-in to the program via the app on their mobile device.
**Faster access to funds is based on comparison of traditional banking policies and deposit of paper checks from employers and government agencies versus deposits made electronically. Direct Deposit and earlier availability of funds is subject to payer’s support of the feature and timing of payer’s funding.
*** To earn 2.80% APY, the Savings Account balance must be $50,000 or less and the customer must meet both of the following requirements. If the Savings Account balance is above $50,000, or both of the following conditions are not met, the APY will be 2.02% on the entire Savings Account balance:
New customers seeking to qualify for 2.80% APY will first need to set up direct deposit and receive their debit card in the mail and activate it. Until the qualifying direct deposit(s) are posted and debit card purchase transactions made, they will earn 2.02% APY.
The APYs are accurate as of October 1, 2019; rates are variable and may change. There is no minimum balance required to open the account. Balance in Savings Account must be at least $0.01 to earn interest.
†Varo charges no fees for banking services. While Varo does not charge fees for ATM withdrawals, some third-party ATM operators may charge a fee. To avoid ATM fees altogether, customers can use an Allpoint® Network ATM. There are more than 55,000 Allpoint locations worldwide.