Chime Wants To Be A Well-Liked Bank For Millennials

January 12, 2016, 6:00 PM UTC
Man inserting coin into piggy bank
Photograph Dan Brownsword via Getty Images

It’s no secret that millennials are wary of big financial institutions. In one Viacom Media study, the big four banks ranked among the 10 least-loved U.S. brands by people born between 1981 and 2000.

That’s where Chime comes in. It is an upstart bank account that pitches itself as being built for a more technologically savvy-generation.

Unlike big banks, Chime was created during the smartphone era and, therefore, features an app that is more than just a way for customers to review their bank accounts, says Chris Britt who co-founded the company with Ryan King in 2013. For example, customers can use the apps to disable their debit cards and chat with customer service agents.

On Tuesday, Chime debuted an automatic savings program that rewards members for saving money. Each time customers buy something using their debit card, Chime rounds up the transaction to the next dollar and puts that amount in their savings. Every Friday, the Chime app alert users of how much they have saved during the week. Chime also gives users a yearly 10% bonus based on their total savings as an incentive for consumers to save more with the service.

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Chime isn’t the first technology newbie to try to create a more modern version of the bank account. Startup Simple, which is trying to reinvent the consumer bank, was acquired in 2014 by financial services corporation BBVA for $117 million. SoFi is also reimagining the traditional bank, but it is approaching lending first. There’s also the challenge of taking on big banks such as Wells Fargo or Bank of America, which have deep pockets and branches across the country to market to the younger generation.

But Britt argues that millennials want a better option. Whatever the case, the company is growing, despite the challenges from the big players. “We feel like being a good bank is low hanging fruit because so many people are unhappy with Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America,” he said.

Britt said that unlike traditional banks, which encourage users to sign up for overdraft protection and loans, Chime has no interest in pushing credit on its customers. Chime also has no minimum balance requirement, monthly fees, or overdraft fees.

“Banks make billions on overdraft fees, but we believe bank accounts should not have these fees,” Britt said. “We don’t let you go into overdraft because, if you don’t have enough money in the account, the transaction won’t take place.”

Chime also offers a cash-back rewards program that gives users discounts or cash back at the time of purchase. Most other programs involve a complex point systems or credits that aren’t accessible until the end of each billing cycle.

WATCH: For more on the financial technology that could shape consumers’ future, watch this video:

Chime currently has 75,000 accounts, with customers on average using their Chime cards to make 35 to 45 purchases monthly. The company, which has raised over $12 million in venture funding, makes money by getting paid by Visa every time customers use their debit card to make purchases.




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