Mobile Banking Startup Submits Application To Become Nationally-Chartered Bank

A mobile banking startup seeks to become the first national bank in American history designed for people who want to bank first and foremost on their smartphones.

Varo Money Inc., a company helping customers solve financial problems, manage money and reach financial goals, announced today that it has applied with federal regulators to become a nationally-chartered bank.

The company submitted applications to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for a national bank charter and to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for federal deposit insurance to form Varo Bank, N.A.

“We founded Varo because we believe many people could benefit from an easier, more affordable way to manage their money and reach their financial goals with just a few taps on their mobile phone,” Colin Walsh, co-founder and CEO of Varo Money, said in a statement. “To do this, we got customers involved in an iterative process from the beginning. We wanted to offer more than just checking, savings and lending products – we wanted to help our customers solve financial problems, fix the fundamentals, and guide them toward a better financial future. As a national bank, Varo will be able to help Americans nationwide.”

Varo believes the smartphone is the indispensable toolbox that can transform the way that people manage their finances.

Last month, they launched in the Apple App Store through a partnership with The Bancorp Bank. The Varo app allows customers to manage cash-flow, track spending and see all their accounts, while also handling everyday banking.

Varo’s consumer research shows that when it comes to managing money, most Americans don’t keep detailed budgets or go into a bank branch for guidance. Most people take a “hands-off” approach and check their bank balances a few times a week, with a general sense of how much they can spend each month.

Consumers who get their cash-flow projections wrong can face costly fees, expensive debt and stress. Varo is working to solve this problem by creating a cash-flow dashboard that provides alerts, information and recommendations to help customers avoid falling into a “cash-trap.”

Varo is building integrated, personalized financial solutions that combine budgeting, deposit and payments, savings and lending products to help customers smooth cash-flow and build savings. Varo’s digital model is designed to help eliminate the unfriendly fees that big banks often charge, such as overdraft fees, minimum balance fees and foreign transaction fees. In addition, Varo does not charge ATM fees at a network of over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs worldwide.

With a national bank charter, Varo would be able to deliver on its promise nationwide, offering its customers access to a full range of products and solutions and the highest standards of consumer protection.

“The organizers of Varo Bank, N.A. bring an enormous depth of knowledge in financial services and consumer technology to their endeavor,” David Coulter, former vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and former CEO and chairman of Bank of America Corp., in a statement. “Acquiring a national bank charter and federal deposit insurance is difficult and it takes time, but Varo is poised for success and backed by leading investors with a financial commitment to creating the bank of the future. If they succeed, they will truly be in a position to make banking better.”

In May 2016, Varo conducted a $28 million funding round led by Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm focused on growth investing. Bank accounts for Varo Money are provided by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC.

Tags: ATMs, mobile banking, Varo

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