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Point wants to provide credit card rewards with debit cards

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Point, a new challenger bank in the U.S., is launching publicly today with an invite system. While Point is technically providing a bank account, the company focuses on rewards associated with a debit card.

“I started Point as a solution about everything that is frustrating and complicated about credit cards. The incentives between credit card companies and cardholders are misaligned,” Point co-founder and CEO Patrick Mrozowski told me.

When Mrozowski first got a credit card, he was spending a ton of money to reach a certain level of spending and unlock the sign-up bonus. At the end of the month, he ended up with credit card debt for no valid reason.

“What would American Express look like today?” he says to sum up Point’s vision. It comes down to two important principles — being in charge of your budget so that you don’t end up with debt and unlocking rewards from brands that you actually interact with.

Many challenger banks want to provide a simple banking experience for the underbanked. Point doesn’t have the same positioning. Creating a Point account is more like joining a membership program.

When you sign up, you get a debit card with some level of insurance as it’s a Mastercard World Debit card. You can expect some trip cancellation insurance, rental car insurance, purchase insurance, etc.

As the name of the startup suggests, you earn points with each purchase. You get 5x points on subscriptions, such as Spotify and Netflix, 3x points on food, grocery deliveries and ride sharing, and 1x points on everything else. Points can be redeemed for dollars — each point is worth $0.01. In addition to that, Point is going to create a feed of offers with discounts, content, events and more.

Due to its premium positioning, Point isn’t free. You have to pay $6.99 per month or $60 per year to join Point. Point doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees.

You can connect your Point account with another bank account using Plaid. It lets you top up your account using ACH transfers. Behind the scenes, Point works with Radius Bank for the banking infrastructure, an FDIC-insured bank.

The company announced earlier this month that it has raised a $10.5 million Series A led by Valar Ventures with Y Combinator, Kindred Ventures, Finventure Studio and business angels also participating.

Image Credits: Point

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Vivid is a new challenger bank built on top of solarisBank

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Meet Vivid, a new challenger bank launching in Germany that promises low fees and an integrated cashback program. The two co-founders, Alexander Emeshev and Artem Yamanov, previously worked as executives for Russian bank Tinkoff Bank.

Vivid doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel and is building its product on top of well-established players. It relies on solarisBank for the banking infrastructure, a German company with a banking license that provides banking services as APIs to other fintech companies. As for debit cards, Vivid is working with Visa.

If you live in Germany and want to sign up to Vivid, you can expect a lot of features that you can find in other challenger banks, such as N26, but with a few additional features. Vivid users get a current account and a debit card. They can then manage their money from the mobile app.

The physical Vivid card doesn’t feature any identifiable details — there’s no card number, expiry date or CVV. Just like Apple’s credit card in the U.S., you have to check the mobile app to see those details. Every time you make a purchase, you receive a notification. You can lock and unlock your card from the app. The card works in Google Pay but not yet in Apple Pay.

In order to make money management easier, Vivid lets you create pockets. Those are sub-accounts presented in a grid view, like on Lydia or N26 Spaces. You can move money between pockets by swiping your finger from one pocket to another. Each pocket has its own IBAN.

You can associate your card with any pocket. Soon, you’ll also be able to share a pocket with another Vivid user. Like on Revolut, you can exchange money to another currency. The company adds a small markup fee but doesn’t share more details.

As for the cashback feature, the startup focuses on a handful of partnerships. You can earn 5% on purchases at REWE, Lieferando, BoFrost, Eismann, HelloFresh and Too Good To Go, and 10% on online subscriptions, such as Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+ and Nintendo Switch Online. While it’s generous, you’re limited to €20 maximum in cash back per month.

Interestingly, Vivid also wants to bring back Foursquare-style mayorship. If you often go to the same bar or café and you spend more than any other Vivid user over a two-week window, you become the mayor and receive 10% cashback.

Vivid has two plans — a free plan and a Vivid Prime subscription for €9.90 per month. Prime users receive a metal card, more cash back on everyday purchases and higher withdrawal limits.

The company plans to launch stock and ETF trading in the coming months. Vivid also plans to expand into other European countries this year.

Vivid is entering a crowded market, but already offers a solid product if everything works as expected. It’s going to be interesting to see how the product evolves and if they can attract a large user base.

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Revolut expands bank account aggregation to Ireland

Posted by | Apps, challenger bank, Europe, Finance, fintech, Mobile, neobank, Open Banking, Revolut, Startups, TrueLayer | No Comments

Fintech startup Revolut has expanded its open banking feature to Ireland. The feature first launched in the U.K. back in February. Once again, the startup is partnering with TrueLayer to let you add third-party bank accounts to your Revolut account.

The feature launch also marks the launch of TrueLayer in Ireland. For now, Revolut users can only link their Revolut account with AIB, Permanent TSB, Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland. Revolut and TrueLayer will add support to other banks in the future. Revolut currently has 1 million customers in the Republic of Ireland.

The idea behind open banking is quite simple. Many online services rely on application programming interfaces (APIs) to talk to each other. You can connect with your Facebook account on many online services, you can interact with other services from Slack, etc.

Financial institutions have been lagging behind on this front, but it is changing thanks to new regulation and technical updates. With open banking, your bank account should work more like a traditional internet service.

When you connect your bank account with Revolut, you can view your balance and past transactions from a separate tab that lists all your linked accounts. Users can also take advantage of Revolut’s budgeting features with their bank accounts.

As TechCrunch’s Steve O’Hear noted when he first covered Revolut’s open banking feature, Revolut was originally authorized for Account Information Services (AIS) by the U.K. regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. It lets you access and display information from other financial institutions.

But the startup now has permission to carry out Payment Initiation Services (PIS). It means that you’ll soon be able to initiate transfers from your bank account directly from Revolut. It should make it much easier to top up your Revolut balance, for instance.

While this feature might seem anecdotal, Revolut wants to build a comprehensive financial hub for all your financial needs — a sort of super app for everything related to money. With open banking, you theoretically no longer have to open your traditional banking app.

Image Credits: Revolut

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Challenger bank Bnext revamps rewards for purchases in partner stores

Posted by | Apps, Bnext, challenger bank, Europe, Finance, Mobile, neobank, Startups | No Comments

Spanish startup Bnext is revamping its cashback program so that you can buy from partner stores directly from the Bnext app and get some money back. The company has partnered with Button and the feature is available as an open beta.

Traditional cashback portals are a bit clunky. When you find an offer that gives you 2% of your money back, you click on the offer, get redirected to the partner site and hope that your purchase will be registered. A bit later, you get some money back on the cashback website, which you need to cash out to your bank account.

If you’re using Bnext as your bank account, you’ll be able to access rewards directly from your banking app. In addition to that, you don’t get redirected to another site as you purchase goods directly from the Bnext app.

There are multiple levels. If you’re making your first purchase through the feature, you get 1% in savings on average. If you’ve made more than three purchases over the past 30 days, you get 3% in savings on average. In order to reach level 3, you need a premium Bnext subscription. With that level, you get 5% in savings on average.

Partners include AliExpress, Booking.com, eDreams, Europcar, Nike, Just Eat and more. Eventually, the startup wants to let you earn rewards from in-store purchases as well. Bnext is creating a new revenue stream with this feature as the startup will keep a share of the revenue from each transaction.

Bnext provides current accounts and payment cards. You can receive notifications for each transaction with your card, and temporarily lock and unlock your card. You don’t pay any foreign transaction fee as long as you spend less than €2,000 per month with a standard account.

The company has also put together a marketplace of fintech products. You can earn interest by lending money to small companies on October, get a loan, an insurance product and more.

Earlier this year, the startup expanded to Mexico. The company plans to roll out rewards in Mexico soon. Bnext has managed to attract a bit less than 400,000 users.

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Revolut launches Revolut Junior to help you manage allowance

Posted by | Apps, challenger bank, Europe, Finance, Mobile, neobank, Revolut, Startups | No Comments

Revolut is introducing a new product specifically targeted toward kids aged 7-17 years old — Revolut Junior. Revolut Junior is a new app and service that integrates directly with the main Revolut app on the parent’s side.

Parents or legal gardians who are also Revolut users can create a Revolut Junior account for their kid. After that, your kid can download the Revolut Junior app and get a Revolut Junior card.

The new app offers a limited set of features with an interface divided in two tabs — Account and Profile. Kids can see a list of transactions in real time in the Account tab. They can configure card settings in the Profile tab. And that’s about it.

On the other end, parents can control their kids’ spending from Revolut. They can transfer money to a Revolut Junior account instantly. Parents can also access balances and transactions as well as disable some card features, such as online payments. They can also choose to receive notifications when a child is using their card.

The reason why Revolut Junior can attract a ton of users is that Revolut itself already has over 10 million users. It’s going to be easier to convince existing Revolut customers to use Revolut Junior over a custom-made challenger bank for teens, such as Kard or Step. Arguably, the biggest competitor of challenger banks for teens is still cash.

As kids grow up, chances are they’ll switch to a full-fledged Revolut account if they’ve been using Revolut Junior for years. Revolut Junior represents a great acquisition funnel as well.

Revolut Junior is only available to Premium and Metal customers in the U.K. for now. The company will eventually roll it out to more users and more countries.

Revolut plans to add more features to Revolut Junior in the future. For instance, parents will be able to set a regular allowance and financial goals. Kids will get savings options, spending reports, spending limits and more.

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