5 min read

Second Annual 11:FS Pulse Awards: Best US Disruptor

11:FS Research Team

The consulting firm CG42 recently reported that it expects the ten largest banks in the US to lose $159 billion in deposits to smaller competitors over the next year.

We’ve kept a close eye on many of those competitors in 11:FS Pulse over the course of 2018, and shared with our clients insights into how they operate. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at the ratings for each of these challengers, and combined those with details about their user numbers and the success of their funding rounds, to come up with our pick of last year’s best US disruptor brand.

It’s also worth noting that the incumbents are aware of the challenges that these disruptor brands are presenting, and are beginning to roll out products of their own – but we’re yet to really see these in the flesh. So, with that in mind, and with big players like Monzo, N26 and Revolut on the horizon for the states, the battleground is about to get a lot more crowded!

Winner: Chime

Since its inception in 2014, Chime has grown at an impressive rate, and is adding over 100,000 accounts per month – that’s more than Wells Fargo or Citibank. We love the fact that this service provides the user with their paycheck up to two days early and helps them grow savings automatically. Chime, which has over 100 employees in downtown San Francisco, doesn’t charge fees (this is a pretty big deal for an American financial brand), and instead makes its money by collecting a fee from Visa every time their customers use Chime’s debit card to make a payment.

The company has received $105 million in funding from venture capital firms. Their most recent round of funding – which included contributions from existing investors such as Forerunner Ventures, Aspect Ventures, etc. – brought the company to over $100 million in total funding and valued the business at around $500 million.

More recently, Chime acquired PFM tool Pinch, with the long-term intention of using their staff to help their young user base build better credit.

2018 was a year of monumental growth for Chime. To be recognised by 11:FS as the winner in the US Disruptor category is an incredible honor and a reflection of the work of our team and our dedication to our members

Chris Britt, Chime co-founder and CEO

Our analysts loved the simple, clean navigation of the app, and the transaction feed, which made great use of icons to illustrate spending, and maps to show where each spend took place. That said, this is still a super young product, so it’s exciting to see how the product will develop and improve this year – especially with regards to bill payments. The numbers are impressive for this still young challenger.

Runner-up: Qapital

Swedish–American challenger Qapital have been helping millennials and the digitally savvy automatically save for big-ticket purchases since 2015. Our analysts loved their slick interface and their smart integrations with IFTTT to move money into savings pots, and gave their user journeys consistently high scores on Pulse (especially for savings goals, transactions and account aggregation).

Like Chime, though, their product will see some big changes over the next year, including a “Payday Divvy” function, which divides up the user’s paycheck when it arrives. “Qapital Invest”, which is their first foray into the investment game. Starting at $10, “Qapital invest” will put your money into a portfolio of stocks based on the risk level you’re comfortable with. And finally, a “Spending Tracker” for setting a budget – to help users find the perfect amount of spending.

What’s not so fun, though, is that Qapital is no longer free – users will now have to pay either $3, $6, or $12 a month to access various savings features. Longtime Qapital users will be “grandfathered” into the new system, though, and continue to use Qapital for free. The rest of us, however, will have to fork out for it.

They’ve raised $30 million in fresh financing this year, in order to fund their expansion beyond savings and into investment advisory services. In January 2019 their user base was reported to be 1.3 million strong. They’re most interesting at the minute as a behavioural economics product, with their executive team including Dan Ariely, who serves as the chief behavioural economist. This is a seriously interesting product, worth keeping your eye on.

You can get a better look at both of these products and many more on 11:FS Pulse.

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