Startup aims to help American immigrants navigate the banking system
More than one million immigrants arrive in the United States each year, according to the Pew Research Center. For most of them, no matter where they come from, navigating an unfamiliar and complex financial system is a particularly onerous task. This includes everything from establishing a credit score to opening a bank account. A growing number of fintech and migrant tech startups are trying to solve these problems.
Two years MAJORITY is a. For a monthly fee of $ 5, the digital banking subscription service offers subscribers a bank account with no overdraft fees or minimums, a Visa prepaid card, and low-cost international phone calls. In addition, customers can make unlimited and instant international transfers. Thanks to banking partner Sutton Bank, customers have access to 55,000 ATMs.
âIt doesn’t matter where you come from. If you are an immigrant, you share a set of values. You are ambitious. You work hard. And you want a better life, âsays CEO and founder Magnus Larsson. âThis is what we are building with our brand.
It also addresses the potential for cultural barriers and confusion through counselors from different communities, who help clients. And thanks to its Migrants Handbook, the app offers information on everything from social security to housing. Customers can also tap into a community of other immigrants through the platform. âIt’s all about trust,â Larsson says.
After leading pilots to Houston and Miami, the service was made available across the United States in June. In its first three months, the app attracted 20,000 registered users, with 5,000 paying subscribers. More recent data is not available.
Fight a nightmare
About 20 years ago, Larsson spent time in the United States as a student and then a teacher. It was then that he saw how difficult it was for immigrants to open a bank account. Providing the right documentation was a nightmare, for example, as was understanding the many differences between US and home banking.
This made him think about the difficulty of the process for other immigrants from different places. âI come from Sweden, a rich country. I speak English fairly well. And I still had a lot of problems, âhe says. “I couldn’t imagine the problems people in other countries were facing.” This led to the idea of ââMAJORITY. âI saw the need to build something that solves the problems you face when you’re not from the country you’re trying to be successful in,â he says.
He and his colleagues launched MAJORITY in 2019, running pilots targeting Nigerians in Houston and Cubans in Miami. In June, they rolled out the service nationwide.
To simplify the banking process, customers can create accounts with just one piece of ID and an individual tax ID or social security number.
But Larsson also realized that immigrants needed help navigating the system and that advice had to come from community members who understood their particular cultures and the challenges they faced.
So he set up a system of around 100 advisers, some full-time employees, others working as subcontractors. They are stationed at Meetup spaces in Houston and Miami, as well as other locations in Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio and Austin in Texas, Hialeah, Miami Gardens and Tampa in Florida and Atlanta. Additionally, mobile users can access customer service assistants through the app. In addition, the company plans to establish centers in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington. CC
In 2015, Larsson became CEO of Swedish tech company Rebtel, which enables people to make low-cost international phone calls. MAJORITY’s initial funding came from the founders and investors of Rebtel. In May, MAJORITY also raised $ 19 million in seed funding,