Donna Fuscaldo Read article at www.forbes.com
Even, the Oakland, California budgeting and mobile app maker, is adding one-on-one financial counseling to its platform, aiming to help customers break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.
The FinTech, which counts Walmart as a partner, inked a deal with non-profit Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners to add financial coaching to its financial wellness platform. The feature will be available to select employer partners later this summer. Even automatically identifies users who would benefit from one-on-one counseling, helping reach the most vulnerable people who are often underserved by traditional financial services companies. The guidance will provide users with a plan to meet long term goals as well as advice on how to navigate financial situations.
“Our mission is to even the playing field for creating a better life,” said Jon Schlossberg, co-founder, and chief executive of Even. “There are lots of things holding people back from creating a better life today, and we don’t pretend that the app as it exists currently is a silver bullet for all people in all situations. So we’re adding more and more products to the app to help people conquer more problems in more ways.”
Even’s budgeting and savings app connects with a user’s bank account and monitors it to alert them when bills are almost due and how much they have left in their account to spend. Employees can pay $8 a month to get interest free access to their paycheck ahead of payday. Even integrates time and attendance, payroll and banking systems into the platform to create a complete picture of the user’s financial health. The app helps them plan, spend, borrow and save via automatic budgeting tools, okay to spend notifications and its Instapay service that gives them interest-free early access to earned wages. An automated savings account helps users meet their established financial goals.
In late December of 2017 Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, announced a new suite of financial wellness services including a partnership with Even. Under that deal, Walmart employees have access to the Even app and access to earned wages ahead of the scheduled pay date. Walmart covers the entire cost of the service and will ensure associates can use the early pay feature as many as eight times a year. Even has raised $51 million in venture funding with Khosla Ventures and Valar Ventures among its backers. As of February Even has more than 300,000 users from more than 10 companies including Walmart and Kronos.
With the new feature, users that are identified to be in need of financial counseling can meet with a Trusted Advisor coach via Skype or phone. The counselors can help devise plans to pay down student loan debt, purchase a car or save for retirement. The coaches make recommendations on steps and tools to reach those goals and motivate them to stay on track via text messages. Users can track their progress through the app or platform and schedule follow-up meetings with the coaches.
“We’re not making money from this partnership. 100% of the cost is passed back to Neighborhood Trust,” Schlossberg said. “What we get out of it is simple: the more we add features like Neighborhood Trust to our app, the more valuable an Even membership becomes.”