There are several outstanding companies in mobile banking/fintech space right now, such as Acorns, Atom, Robinhood, Betterment and Wealthfront. It's a particularly exciting time to be in fintech for entrepreneurs and investors.
Disclosure - I am not affiliated with Chime, nor did I receive compensation in any way for this article. One of Chime's investors, Crosslink Capital, was an investor in company I co-founded, but do not currently work for.
Why did you decide to start Chime?
Chris Britt: Millennials hate the traditional banking options. Of the 10 LEAST loved brands among Millennials, four are financial institutions you know well - Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo. They're moving away from bank branches and want to manage everything in their lives on their phone, including their finances.
We see a huge opportunity to innovate in banking. We're a technology company that's also innovating in terms of a better business model that doesn't rely on fees.
What gets me really excited is that we're helping our members live healthier financial lives.
And what exactly is Chime?
CB: We are a mobile-first bank account that helps you save automatically by rounding up your card transactions, depositing them in a savings account for you, and then rewarding you for saving with a 10% bonus each week.
You can pay bills, transfer money, find one of our 24,000 fee-free ATMs, and take advantage of cashback rewards. We also send daily balance updates and alert you every time there's a transaction on your account, to keep you in control and in the know.
Why haven't the big banks taken advantage of this opportunity themselves?
CB: There's a very basic disconnect between what the big banks offer and what Millennials actually want.
They want a mobile-first banking experience that's modern and connected to other apps, but legacy infrastructure, and a walled-garden approach are limiting the banks' ability to innovate. Young consumers prefer to pay with a debit card versus a credit card because it keeps them in control so they can avoid racking up debt, but the big banks are all about marketing credit cards.
Consumers made $15B in overdraft fees in 2015 alone. Too often, the relationship people have with their bank is just plain adversarial.
How is the company doing right now?
CB: We just raised $9M in financing led by Aspect Ventures which we are thrilled about, with participation from our existing investors. Raising money aside, the company is growing fast in a huge space especially through word of mouth.
Since we launched our Automatic Savings program in January, it's become one of the features our members love most, and we've been featured by Apple as one of the top apps for managing money
What's your vision of banking 10 years from now?
CB: Eventually the big banks will either have to adapt their offerings and approach, or they'll continue to lose share to new consumer-focused entrants. I see banking headed in a direction where control is handed back to the consumer and institutions becoming more transparent and open to connecting with other apps to provide better visibility to all of their finances.
At the end of the day, people want a banking relationship that they can trust and looks out for their best interest. It's clear that's not how many Americans feel about their bank today, so it's inevitable this is going to change. This will happen in the next few years, not 10.