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Turn a debit card into a credit card in 180 seconds, no FICO needed

In 180 seconds on your phone Float offers a mobile-first financial service that enables consumers instant access to a line of credit that they can use with their existing debit card. Float acts as an overdraft killer.  The start-up services the 63% of millennials who are living without a credit card with a solution that is simple, accessible, and consumer-friendly.

$17.5 billion in overdraft fees

Most of us probably know what it feels like to overdraw a checking account. There’s a particular sinking feeling everyone gets when they see that minus sign in front of their available balance. According to research reports, every year $17.5 billion is paid as overdraft fees by Americans.  Float wants to empower people to employ alternative solutions as compared to the normally usurious overdraft facilities of their bank. Their mobile-first consumer financial technology gives users an instant and easy way to access a line of credit without a traditional credit report.

Company history

Float is aiming to revolutionize the credit experience for the modern, mobile consumer. It was established in September 2015 with their head office in Los Angeles, California. They were able to raise seed capital of over $1.5 million from 4 investors (500 startups, Camp One ventures, Funders Club and Plug and Play) and will be raising another $1.5 million in the next 3 months. Total seed money will be in the range of $3-3.5 million. Andy Burke is the CTO of the company. Kevin Bass is the President and Max Klein is the CEO of the company (also the founder of Cachet LA -website on premium lifestyle in Los Angeles). Presently, they have over 15 employees in their company. According to Max, Float was born with a simple mission of creating better experiences between consumers and their finances.

How it works

Float’s vision is to change the way users’ access, manage and spend money on a daily basis and simultaneously help them build a strong credit file. Data security is taken very seriously, they protect sensitive information with full encryption and safeguards that meet industry best practices. This feature is necessary, ensuring the customer feels secure while using Float and linking it to their bank account. Its target market is in the age of 18-30 and it is lending them $50 to $1000 on an average.

Float is committed with a simple and straightforward process of belief in clear, upfront pricing.

–     Charge 5% for transfers to your bank account for $50 or more. For transfers under $50, they charge $2.50 flat.

–    Each billing cycle is about 30 days, just like a typical credit card.

– If the dues are not cleared within the cycle, the user will be charged a $20 penalty.

–    There is an auto pay option to avoid late fees.

–    No other fees, interest, or APR to access your line of credit

The company claims that the process from downloading the Float app to applying and being able to spend the money takes only 180 seconds. The convenience of getting credit in such a short time period can disrupt not only the overdraft segment of the banks but also the payday loan industry. You have to be 18 years or older and must have a bank account with Float associated banks.  Within seconds of connecting a bank account, a line of credit is offered between $50 and $1000 and is available for immediate use with any existing debit card. Since their target market is millennials, they use social media as the main channel for advertising. They create huge awareness at the college campuses with an exclusive brand ambassador program targeting influential and affluent students, enabling them with the tools to help promote Float among their friends.

No-FICO

Float believes in eliminating fear and hesitation out of the on-boarding process, that’s why they don’t use traditional FICO scores before giving credit. Instead, they do cash flow analysis when the user connects their current bank account, and they layer alternative list scores from several other providers to produce an internal score for a personalized line of credit payable every 30 days. In case, someone does not have a debit or credit card, funds will arrive in 1-3 days via an ACH transfer in the connected bank account. There is an option to pay back the loan early as well before every billing cycle and it has to be paid in full to avoid any late fees. There is an auto pay option as well, to ensure the borrower never misses a payment or incurs a late fee. Another feature being added is a set up for direct transfer, which means whenever the balance goes below $50, Float will send $100, and thus ensuring there is no overdraft and the exorbitant overdraft fees. Float’s credit product is currently in early access mode and will be available to select customers from December of this year.

Next steps

Float is launching in Utah the next month and plans to initially lend from its own balance sheet. After the proof of concept, it plans to tie-up with third party providers for the capital needs of it users.  It also secured second place out of 850 applicants in Plug and Play, a 12-week accelerator program that partners with Citi Ventures, Deutsche Bank, Capital One, Intuit, JCB, and USAA to help bring to market the next disruptive financial solution for the growing worldwide economy. Recognition from Plug and Play, a pioneer in fintech sector is particularly noteworthy.

The ability to get add-on credit within seconds will lead to a change in how consumers interact with their finances especially overdraft. The key success factor for the company will be analyzing which user to lend and how to manage prospective delinquents.

Author: Heena Dhir and George Popescu

George Popescu
George Popescu

 

About the author

George Popescu

Serial entrepreneur.

George sold and exited his most successful company, Boston Technologies (BT) group, in 2014. BT was a technology, market maker, high-frequency trading and inter-broker broker-dealer in the FX Spot, precious metals and CFDs space company. George was the Founder and CEO and he boot-strapped from $0 to a $20+ million in revenue without any equity investment. BT has been #1 fastest growing company in Boston in 2011 according to the Boston Business Journal and the only company being in top 10 fastest in 2012-13 as it was #5 in 2012. BT has been on the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies in the US for 4 years in a row ( #143, #373, #897 and #1270). After the company sale in July 2014 until February 2015 George was Head-of-Strategy for Currency Mountain ( www.currencymountain.com ), a USD 100 million+ holding company focused on retail and medium institutional currencies, precious metals, stocks, fixed income and commodities businesses.

• Over the last 10 years, George founded 10 companies in online lending, craft beer brewery, exotic sports car rental space, hedge funds, peer-reviewed scientific journal ( Journal of Cellular and Molecular medicine…) and more. George advised 30+ early stage start-ups in different fields. George was also a mentor at MIT’s Venture Mentoring Services and Techstar Fintech in NY.

• Previously George obtained 3 Master's Degrees: a Master's of Science from MIT working on 3D printing, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Supelec, France and a Master's in Nanosciences from Paris XI University. Previously he worked as a visiting scientist at MIT in Bio-engineering for 2 years. George had 3 undergrad majors: Maths, Physics and Chemistry. His scientific career led to about 10 publications and patents.

• On the business side, Boston Business Journal has named me in the top 40 under 40 in 2012 in recognition of his business achievements.

• George is originally from Romania and grew up in Paris, France.

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