EXCLUSIVE – Neobank Aspiration has added joint-account capabilities to its offerings, as the self-described bank “with a conscience,” continues to target those disenchanted with their larger banks, company CEO Andrei Cherny told Bank Innovation.
Does Bank of America’s recent decision to nip its free checking account come to mind? Well, that’s exactly the type of audience Aspiration wants to welcome to open an account. Aspiration’s deposit products are offered by Boston-based Radius Bank.
In fact, just two days ago, Aspiration said it would give BofA customers a $12 credit if they switched to Aspiration. That credit amount represents the monthly checking fees they would pay BofA if they do not maintain the low-balance minimum.
“A lot of people are looking at BofA as a wakeup call,” Cherny said. “Even if they are not personally affected by the decision, they are viewing this as getting rid of the last vestige of a free checking account. What BofA is doing is the standard, not exception. Big banks are making money at the expense of their customers.”
That’s where Aspiration is hoping to make its mark. Aspiration provides a free FDIC-insured checking account, with 1% interest, no monthly fees and no ATM fees. As its name might suggest, through its AIM app (Aspiration Impact Measurement) it allows users “to see how their spending is having an impact on the people and the planet so they can make more ethical spending decisions,” Cherny said.
Indeed, the service seems to be growing its users base, currently with more than 200,000 customers since it was first launched in 2015. Aspiration attracts about 1,000 new users per day, Cherny said. Of that customer base, about 60% are under 35 years old.
Aspiration has so far collected 25,0000 BofA customers (since 2015 and not within the last two weeks of BofA’s checking account fee announcement, Cherny clarified). It has also gathered more than 25,000 Wells Fargo customers, following the bank’s various public scandals last year, he said.
Adding joint account capabilities is part of the bank’s strategy to offer its customer a comprehensive checking account experience. In addition to checking accounts, Aspiration also offers retirement and investment products. The firm does is not a chartered bank, but instead works with Radius Bank as its banking partner. The Aspiration debit card is issued by Mastercard.
“We also just added the investment and retirement capabilities to our mobile app too,” Cherny said.
Whether Aspiration is looking to procure a banking license to offer other banking products is unclear at the moment. Cherny said for now, the focus is on adding new capabilities to its existing core products as well as reaching a larger customer base.
Perhaps BofA’s loss might be Aspiration’s win?
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