5 Startups to Watch: Cushion, Bread, Curve and More

It’s startup season: the accelerators are adding their new classes, the venture capitalists are packing on the funding, and bright new fintechs are setting launch dates.

Take a look at just five of these startups that Bank Innovation will be watching this month:

Cushion

Arguing with a bank over fees is one of the least popular pastimes on Earth, so why not get an AI to do it for you? That’s the theory behind Cushion, an AI fintech startup that wants to use bots to fight bank fees on behalf of customers.

The startup’s bot, “Fee Fighter,” will spar with banks of behalf of the user; once the bot has successfully argued its claims, that user will receive a text with the amount of their refund.

Currently, users can request a beta invite to the bot. The San Francisco-based startup is in the latest 500 Startups accelerator batch.

Bread

This New York-based fintech wants to build stronger relationships between retailers and consumers, by helping merchants create financing solutions. These partnerships allow Bread to facilitate pay-as-you go solutions for the consumer, through technology that adds both to the retailers’ accessibility and grows sales.

Considering the startup more than tripled its value with the $126M Series B round it closed last week, bringing its total equity to $140M, it seems to be a successful model thus far.

Cnote

This California-based fintech wants to upend the world of impact investing, or socially aware investing, by making sure its users get the maximum return possible. Through a combination of its “technology-first” approach and providing clients access to U.S. Treasury Department-certified financial institutions or CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions), the startup is able to give the majority of the interest generated back to the client.

This approach enables the company to give its users more than 40 times the rate of return of a traditional savings account, according to its website, citing a 2.5% rate of return. Returns are subject to the performance of CDFIs, though Cnotes’ rates are tied to prime.

Users can sign up for Cnote on its site.

Rapa

Several fintechs are presently taking runs at credit scoring methods—why should your level of “creditworthiness” depend on a bank?

That’s the question San Franscisco-based startup Rapa is asking; the fintech, which is a member of the latest 500 Startups class along with Cushion, wants to create better financing options for those who might want to invest outside of the U.S.

In other words, it’s looking to build a system of global credit, for global citizens: “why in the world should you pay more than twice the amount you would pay to finance U.S. property? ” Rapa asks users on its site.

Users can sign up for early access on the company’s website.

Curve

This London-based fintech wants to be the one to achieve that much-tried  goal in fintech: building out a singular platform that aggregates multiple bank cards into one. The customer’s card are grouped together under the Curve card (powered by Mastercard), and that customer’s spending and money management  habits are all laid out in the accompanying mobile app.

Notably, the fintech’s products also include a “time travel” feature, where users can choose which card to use for a transaction — after they’ve already made the transaction.

The fintech raised a $10M round of funding in July 2017, bringing its total equity to $12M, which will be used to continue building out its “connected finance” all-in-one platform.

Take a look at other startups to watch in Bank Innovation’s Watchlist.

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