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OurBanc Hones Unique Approach To Bank The Underbanked: 'Alignment'

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OurBanc Hones Unique Approach To Bank The Underbanked: 'Alignment'

Underbanked.

This term has been said, loosely, for far too long. There are millions in modern civilization with no access to financial services. A lack of trust and understanding are among the top factors to blame for this problem.

David Dwumah, a serial entrepreneur and ex-public and -private financial services expert with experience working at the likes of Citizens Financial Group Inc (NYSE: CFG) and the Federal Reserve, founded OurBanc, a member of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, to extend digital banking to those without access.

Read below to learn more about Dwumah’s mission.

Benzinga: Hi David. Nice to finally connect with you. Tell me a little bit about your background and what motivated you to start this journey.

Dwumah: I was born in Ghana, West Africa. I originally came to the U.S. for college on scholarship, attending the University of North Florida.

The goal was to finish college, spend a couple of years in banking, and go back to my home country.

Two master’s degrees later, I ended up at the EY financial services practice which gave me broad exposure to the financial ecosystem, working with a lot of asset managers, banks, insurance. The whole industry.

Fast forward, I spent the next five years at the Federal Reserve in Boston, hyper-focused on what we call critical financial infrastructure and a lot of the processes that underpin the broader banking and payments infrastructure.

I believe my aggregate personal and professional experiences have given me the opportunity to deepen my understanding of potential solutions, to make the broader financial system work for all. 

So what exactly is the problem you’re looking to solve?

I want to build a level playing field for historically disenfranchised communities.

I like to highlight Susu, which is kind of an informal banking system where people actually lend money to you based on trust. Mobile money was fundamentally changing that and incentivizing people to provide financial services.

I was making all of those observations every year I went to Ghana, coupled with my professional experience and all the things that happened over the last year in terms of racial justice, and the need for change.

The technology is now mature enough where I don’t need hundreds of billions to make a difference.

What is OurBanc? What are some of the most impactful solutions you offer?

I believe that most of the impact happens outside of the technology. It’s more about the mission and the way you build what you’re building, and how you build it, as well as the people and organizations you align with.

We’re bringing to market personal financial management capabilities, a consolidated view of a user’s financial activities so that they have one central point in which they can go and see all their financial activities, make better decisions, and improve their financial health.

We’re leaning into newer capabilities and ways of thinking around open banking – faster payments that are more equitable.

How do you engage consumers? How do you get people to adopt OurBanc?

We believe that you cannot solve the racial wealth gap if you don’t engage people in a meaningful way. To be more than a customer, we must co-create.

We believe we’re probably the first fintech that has done this in a meaningful way, and, on day one, we opened our seed round to everyday people where they have an opportunity to also invest alongside institutional and accredited investors.

It’s about consumers having a seat at the table where decisions are made, and having real skin in the game.

Airbnb Inc (NASDAQ: ABNB) and Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) were the first iterations of the sharing economy. We’re building the second iteration.

What are typical obstacles for the underbanked? What are you doing about them?

It’s either one, they don’t have enough money to maintain balances. So, we will just eliminate [minimum] balances or make them low-dollar.

Number two is trust.

When folks, especially in minority communities, go to a bank, they don’t get a fair shake.

For instance, when you go to New York, there are a lot of banks. However, if you go into the Bronx, there are very few big in-network ATMs. So, if you use those ATMs, you’re going to pay out-of-network fees.

How do you solve that problem? People need to be part of the process. If I’m part of the process and have a voice in the process, that’s how you build trust.

If we make the community part of our funding process, there’s increased alignment in what we’re building and what their needs are.

What are you most excited about as you build this company?

Over the next few years, there are three trends that we’re excited about. Open banking, faster payments, and the promise of digital currency.

Between open banking, faster payments, and CBDCs, we believe that these, in aggregation … are equalizers.

We’re at an inflection point to really deliver on the promise of fintech, because it is not just about access, but about equity.

How can we help with your initiative?

We invite everyone that shares our vision and perspective to join us in a multiplicity of ways.

One, they can check out our ongoing crowdfunding raise on Wefunder. Two, they can share our story with their friends and family.

 

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