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March 6, 2020

Empower announces $20m in Series A funding

By Asena Degirmenci

Empower has announced $20m in Series A funding, with participation from investors including, Icon Ventures, Defy Ventures and Nubank founder and CEO David Velez. Existing partners, Sequoia Capital and Initialized Capital, also joined this round.

The mobile banking app company provides a banking experience that combines AI and human coaching to power personal financial solutions, such as, high-yield deposit products, easy budgeting and spend tracking, bill negotiation and subscription management, and personalised recommendations.

This latest financing is followed by the company’s launch of high-interest checking and automated savings accounts at 1.60% APY with no minimums, no overdraft fees and unlimited withdrawals.

Empower’s digital intelligence is paired with human coaching to guide customers though financial challenges, including planning for retirement and managing student loan debt. These human coaches have experience in money management across credit, loans, investments and more.

A poll indicated that millennials are 2.5 times more likely than Baby Boomers and 1.5 times more likely than Gen Xers to switch banks when they are dissatisfied. By appealing to a new generation of tech-savvy customers, Empower is offering guidance that traditional banks lack.

Empower co-founder and CEO Warren Hogarth said: “Empower is democratising access to financial experts and products that used to be available to only the top 1% wealthiest people. There’s growing demand in the market for financial knowledge to be more practical – and that means actionable, personalised information in real time to create better outcomes.

“We combine human coaching with the latest technology, including AI, to continuously monitor our customers’ accounts and provide intelligent alerts, prompts, and analyses to improve their financial decision-making in the moment and build financial literacy. We’ve designed every product feature to make it dead-simple to save more and grow their wealth.”

Icon Ventures general partner Tom Mawhinney said: “Today’s generation needs and wants more from their bank. Most challenger banks are trying to tackle small parts of a more significant problem, like minimising fees or early direct deposit or improving design.

“Empower has a broader mission to improve financial well-being and independence through personal impact – and that means giving people a complete toolset incorporating digital plus human mentorship to save more and make their money work harder. The company is unlocking possibilities on a whole different scale.”

Initialized Capital co-founder and managing partner, and customer of Empower, Alexis Ohanian said: “There is a considerable body of research that says Millennials are financially behind and actually worse off than preceding generations. While we obviously need to address the systemic problem.

“Empower is designed to help this generation get smarter and savvier about their money. It’s pretty rare to find a consumer bank that offers high yield on all your money without the traditional deposit restrictions, plus on-demand financial coaching via both human and AI assistance. Empower is the practical all-in-one solution that’s been missing in the market.”

 

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