In response to challengers, Green Dot is growing its platform business

Uber Money, supported by Green Dot

With digital-only banks picking up millions of customers, Green Dot is focusing on the diversification of its offerings to clients.

As banking startups build their customer bases, the company is focusing on banking-as-a-service products, growing Green Dot’s digital banking brand Unlimited and adding large-scale brand partnerships.

CEO Steve Streit told investors last week that upstart digital-only banking brands were adding pressure to the company’s bottom line. The 20-year-old bank reported a net loss of $500,000 in the third quarter of 2019, while net income stood at $4.6 million during the same period last year. In addition, Green Dot’s number of active accounts at the end of the third quarter of 2019 stood at 5.18 million — down 250,000 from the same period last year.

In light of these challenges, the company is focusing on new pathways to growth. “We’ve recognized that we have more work to do to get our consumer business back on a growth trajectory and that Green Dot’s ongoing leadership in the free neobank bank era is not guaranteed,” said Streit, during a third-quarter earnings call.

Green Dot’s turnaround plan centers around direct-to-consumer and business client offerings. The company has long been a leader in the prepaid card market, with its products available at 100,000 retailers across the U.S., including Walmart, CVS, Dollar General and Kroger. With the rise of digital-only banking startups, Green Dot is focusing on growing its platform business, scaling its direct-to-consumer Unlimited banking brand launched in July and supporting large tech firms in their efforts to launch banking products.

“Of the big verticals that we’re focusing on, one is the obviously the gig economy,” said Seth Ross, senior vice president of business development at Green Dot. “If you look at Uber, there are a lot of other opportunities to create accounts to pay gig economy workers. The other segment is investment advisers, including Stash and Wealthfront, where there are fintech companies [that] want to expand customer relationships, and we are making a concerted effort around small business [clients].”

In October, Green Dot announced a partnership with Uber on Uber Money, a suite of financial products offered within the Uber driver app. Uber Money includes mobile bank accounts that integrate seamlessly within the Uber driver app, instant payment capabilities, cash back rewards, and a “Wallet” feature that incorporates expense tracking and other personal finance tools.

Uber Money consolidates banking and personal finance capabilities within a single app platform for drivers, eliminating the need for a separate banking app. “Large enterprise scale platforms like Uber use us because we’re able to offer a holistic solution with an integrated bank and with our APIs,” Ross explained. “We have both the capability to build your app the way you want it, or you can use our APIs and integrate into your own app.”

See also: Green Dot seeks to stem the bleeding caused by new digital-only banks with Unlimited

In addition to Uber, in late October, Green Dot also announced a renewal of its prepaid partnership with Walmart until 2027. Compared to other companies offering platform-as-a-service capabilities, Green Dot’s differentiator is flexibility, allowing the brand partner to take as much control as it wishes, noted Ross.

Partnerships with large companies like Uber, Apple and Walmart establish Green Dot as an enterprise-grade platform service provider, adding credibility to its banking-as-a-service product offerings.

Meanwhile, Unlimited, Green Dot’s digital-only banking product, is helping the company onboard more customers. According to the company, in the 13 weeks following the July launch of Unlimited, 1.1 million customers opened Unlimited accounts. As of the end of October, 500,000 of them have made an initial deposit and have become “active depositing” customers, noted Streit. The launch of Unlimited also has resulted in an increase in the number of customers using a Green Dot product as a direct deposit account. According to the company, since the Unlimited launch, Green Dot added 40,000 new direct deposit accounts.

For direct-to-consumer banking brands, direct deposit accounts are foundations for the monetization of customer relationships. According to Streit, Green Dot has a leg up over competitors in this area, with startup banking platforms often being used by customers as secondary accounts instead of primary banking tools.

“When the privately-held neobanks release account data to the press, they’re often quoting the number of accounts that were opened on their platform regardless of whether those accounts have ever received a deposit,” said Streit. “We also believe some privately-held competitors double count new customers, because a single new account may also come with an integrated savings account that may or may not be used by the customer.”