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Varo, Banking Startup With a Social Mission, Makes History

by Varo Bank

September 4, 2018

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Pending Final Approval, Varo Will Be the First All-Mobile National Bank in the History of the United States

SAN FRANCISCO – Varo Money, Inc., the banking startup that aims to helps its customers get ahead financially, is on the way to becoming the first national all-mobile bank. The startup has been granted preliminary approval of its application for a national bank charter by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), signaling the OCC is ready to grant the charter pending Varo’s completion of standard conditions.

“This is an historic moment and marks the start of a new era in banking,” said Colin Walsh, co-founder and CEO of Varo Money. “We founded Varo because we saw that banks weren’t serving the majority of their customers very well, and we wanted to fix that. So we decided to build a bank from the ground up with the goal of improving consumers’ financial health through better technology and a more efficient business model.”

As a national bank, Varo will deliver even more value to consumers compared to traditional banks. Varo offers fee-free Bank Accounts, Savings Accounts, and lending products and, with a bank charter, can expand the types of products and services it offers directly to its customers while making personal loans available in 50 states. A national bank charter will also allow Varo to streamline operations, lower banking and lending costs further, and increase the pace of customer-focused innovation.

Mobile-only banking with a mission

Varo has a social mission to lower the cost of banking and help consumers improve their financial lives. A 2017 report from the Federal Reserve showed that 40% of adults would not be able to cover an unexpected expense of $400 without selling something or borrowing money. Varo can improve the financial health of millions by helping them manage expenses and save money by providing no-cost premium banking services that are accessible through a smartphone.

Varo’s all-mobile Bank Account is built with best-in-class technology wrapped in an intuitive design and user experience. Varo offers customers:

  • Fee-free banking: No monthly maintenance fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM withdrawal fees^
  • Savings Accounts with 1.50% Annual Percentage Yield* with no minimum balance requirement
  • Personal loans of up to $25,000 that may provide a lower-interest alternative to credit cards**
  • Automated tools to help build savings seamlessly
  • A view of all of a customer’s financial accounts—at Varo and elsewhere—in one place
  • Customizable in-app spend tracking and the ability to set financial goals
  • Live customer service, seven days a week
  • A secure and safe way to bank using industry-leading levels of data encryption

Varo customers pay no ATM fees at a network of more than 55,000 Allpoint ATMs worldwide. Allpoint ATMs are located in popular retail stores—like Target, Costco, Walgreens, and CVS—so customers don’t have to go out of their way to get cash at a bank branch ATM.

Built by the best talent from the world’s leading brands

Varo was founded by Colin Walsh, CEO, and Kolya Klymenko, CTO, and counts among its team the best talent from some of the world’s leading brands, including Amazon, American Express, Apple, Citi, McKinsey, Instagram, and Wells Fargo.

“Varo’s bank charter will help increase access and reduce costs for people around the country, and The Rise Fund is excited to support the company’s growth,” said Maya Chorengel, partner, The Rise Fund. “Varo is at the leading edge of developing digital-only banking experiences promoting responsible financial behavior for consumers, which has the potential to create significant positive social impact.”

Varo combines the attributes millennials are looking for in a bank—mobile convenience and social responsibility. In a survey of 1,000 people conducted by Propeller Insights for Varo, millennials were significantly less likely to visit a physical bank branch compared to older generations and ranked the 24/7 convenience as the top reason mobile banking was better than in-person banking.

Varo was founded in 2015 and has raised more than $79M in funding, led by Warburg Pincus and The Rise Fund, a global impact fund led by private equity firm TPG.

^Non-Allpoint ATM owners may assess a fee for ATM withdrawals, but Varo does not charge a fee.

*Varo's savings interest rate is variable and may change. The balance in savings must be at least $0.01 to earn interest. The APY disclosed is accurate as of 07.01.2018.

**Varo Personal Loan and Varo Backup Line offered by Varo Money Inc. under state licenses; subject to application approval. NMLS#1547251

Varo Bank Accounts are provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000 through The Bancorp Bank.

About Varo Money

Varo Money, Inc. (“Varo”) combines mobile technology with a social mission to provide access to no-cost premium bank accounts through better service and automated savings tools. We believe everyone has a right to high-quality banking at no cost regardless of net worth. In addition to premium banking products offered through The Bancorp Bank, Varo provides tech-first features to budget, track, and save money as a way to help people manage their money more easily. Varo serves customers without being tied to a branch and embraces technology to provide helpful banking relationships. Based in San Francisco and Utah and privately held, Varo has raised $79M to date, led by Warburg Pincus. Varo Personal Loan and Varo Backup Line are offered by Varo Money, Inc., under state licenses, subject to application approval. For more information, please visit and follow Varo on Facebook @varomoney or Twitter @varomoney.

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Press Contact

Catherine New 

[email protected]

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