Esusu Raises $1.6M in Seed Funding

28, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Esusu, the financial technology platform helping individuals save money and build credit, today closed a $1.6 million …

The Credit Building App is Backed by Acumen Fund, Sinai Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins

NEW YORK, Aug. 28, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Esusu, the financial technology platform helping individuals save money and build credit, today closed a $1.6 million seed round led by Acumen Fund with participation from Sinai Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Katapult Accelerator, Plug and Play Tech Center, Global Good Fund, Temerity Capital Partners, and prominent angel investors. Co-founded by Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel alongside founding team members Albert Owusu-Asare (CTO) and Robert Henning (CFO), the Esusu app helps people establish and build credit.

“With the support of our strategic investors and partners, Esusu is poised for unprecedented growth and ready to scale to serve the millions of Americans struggling to save and create a financial identity,” said Abbey Wemimo, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Esusu. “There are 45 million people in the United States without a credit score; our platform helps to score them, build their credit profiles and will ultimately unlock over $3.1 trillion in untapped capital.”

In 2018, Esusu debuted its peer-to-peer savings app on iOS and Android. This year, Esusu launched its signature rent reporting platform to give renters credit for making monthly payments, a benefit historically reserved for homeowners. Esusu has been at the forefront of the technology integration of rent reporting and partners with leading public and private sector housing developers to report rent payment data to credit bureaus. Rent reporting has proved to not only lift credit scores but it helps landlords improve underwriting, reduce missed payments, and retain tenants longer.

“As impact investors focused on improving the financial health of all Americans, we look for entrepreneurs who are tackling frictions in the financial services industry that are adversely affecting both sides of the market. We’re excited by Esusu and the vision of co-founders Samir and Abbey to build better tools for traditional financial services industry players. Esusu serves lower-income and historically credit-challenged consumers, while simultaneously empowering these consumers with credit-building tools that can transform their access to wealth-building – rather than predatory products and services,” said Eliza Golden, Portfolio Manager of Acumen.

Esusu raised $1.6 million in venture capital to scale, expand market share, and focus on product development. The new funds will enhance the rent reporting platform, onboard new partnerships, and extend overall reach. There are plans to grow the team – hiring in key leadership roles across sales, technology, and operations.

“Esusu is growing swiftly to meet the demand for our rent reporting platform, and our nonprofit and corporate partnerships are essential to scaling while continuing to ensure safe and friction-free customer experience,” said Samir Goel, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Esusu. “Our technology is capturing financial information that has never been recorded to equalize the playing field and increase access to capital and credit for millions that have been underserved by the financial system.”

Esusu continues to innovate and scale through a number of partnerships with national organizations including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and Credit Builders Alliance (CBA).

About Esusu

Esusu is the leading financial technology platform helping individuals save money and build credit. Founded in 2016, Esusu is at the forefront of paving a permanent bridge to financial access by providing financial solutions for low-to-middle income consumers. Esusu’s groundbreaking rent reporting platform captures rental payment data and reports it to credit bureaus to boost credit scores. This allows tenants to build and establish their credit scores while helping property owners attract tenants, reduce turnover, and improve collections to increase their operating income. Esusu creates the community and systems needed to build credit and thrive. Learn more at www.esusurent.com and follow us on Instagram and Facebook @myesusu and on Twitter @getesusu.

Press Contact

Chanel Cathey

Esusu

press@esusu.org

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/1039a7e8-754b-44eb-b221-498161060bd4

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Credit Scores, Credit Reports & Credit Check Services Market Outlook, Demand, Key Player and …

‘The primary purpose of the report is to highlight the many important global Credit Scores, Credit Reports & Credit Check Services market dynamics …

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Plaid’s Lowell Putnam: ‘Liabilities gives student lenders access to a whole new set of data points’

Lowell was also the founder of Quovo, a data aggregation competitor with strength in the investment industry that Plaid acquired earlier in 2019.

Tearsheet has been covering the data aggregation industry because it’s our contention that getting this right is one of the underpinnings of modern finance. Sharing clean data between banks and apps may be somewhat of a boring business but it’s an important one.

Plaid recently launched Liabilities, a product that gives PFMs and student loan providers and refinancers access to the liabilities side of their potential clients’ balance sheets. This is a very active area of fintech and should help to propel things forward.

Plaid’s Lowell Putnam joins us on the podcast to talk about the new product and how clients are using it in their applications. Lowell was also the founder of Quovo, a data aggregation competitor with strength in the investment industry that Plaid acquired earlier in 2019. He talks about the combined entity and provides some insight into the product roadmap the company plans to execute on.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Launching the Liabilities product

We’ve always lived with a very accounting-driven mindset. Liabilities is a departure from that core data set into what I’d call metadata, for lack of a better term. Liabilities represents the access to a whole new set of data points that are unique to liabilities financial accounts. The APR on your credit card or student loans didn’t traditionally have a home in our database. But we found a lot of companies were coming to us for a data set that was slightly more diverse that we didn’t offer.

It made a lot of sense to start with student loan accounts. We have a crisis of student debt in this country. There is a lot of interest in solving the crisis but there hasn’t been a lot of ability. There’s been a real asymmetry for the demand for products to help people with their student loans and the ability of those products to really be effective. We realized it was a data challenge.

What fintech is doing with liabilities data

Over the past year, the proliferation of high yield savings accounts and debit cards coming out of fintech companies has us all leaning toward a rebundling mindset. I guess the current trend in fintech is to go broad, rather than deep.

In the case of student debt repayment, the breadth story may be a little different. I don’t know if the breadth of these new student loan repayment firms includes dropping a high yield savings account. To me, it feels more like one leg of a PFM stool — helping you manage your overall budgeting life. I can see this more of a feature attached to other savings or PFM features. It’s pretty early to tell and it will take a while to see the benefit of student loan consolidation or repayment.

If I had to guess, you might see some of the rebundled incumbents like Acorns, Stash, Betterment or SoFi adding more sophisticated repayment tools as an ancillary product or feature.

The Plaid audience

The folks looking to add a debt management solution onto their existing stack, like MoneyLion, desperately need information about existing liabilities if they want to get people on a path to a better financial life. In this case, they’re expanding their product set into a new silo.

Some others can’t get to first base on a new product without access to things like APR. Today, it’s student loans. But the Liabilities product touches on metadata points like next repayment date, current APR, APR changes over time and delinquency rates. We’ll be moving into mortgages and credit cards and other debt classes. That will open a whole new set of products, too.

The combined Plaid and Quovo

There were convergent evolutions of our product sets so that about a year ago, we found ourselves highly competitive. It wasn’t like that historically. Plaid grew up in the bank instant authentication space and where it’s excelled from the early days. Quovo started doing brokerage account aggregation. We seemed very different back in 2013.

Quovo’s wealth clients started pulling us closer to the banking space because of their interest in banking and lending — this is part of the rebundling effort that you’ve recently covered. At the same time, Plaid was pulled into much more sophisticated PFM-style use cases.

We woke up and we were real competitors. Zach and I have known each other for a while. 2019 could have gone two very different ways. We could have beaten each other up in the market and pricing probably would have suffered. Or, we could join forces and play to our strengths. We got through the deal in about 50 days from beginning to end.

Commoditization of data

Nobody says I love ConEd. We are in a lot of ways a utility, but the commodity we have is literally the lifeblood of the companies we work with. When you have water and it works, you generally don’t think about the quality of the water. We have to do a better job explaining that there is dirty and clean water.

For a fintech starting out, if Plaid gets the data right from a small credit union in the midwest, it saves you a support ticket you would have otherwise gotten from another aggregator. That has ripple effects. There are hidden costs to poor data quality.

The product roadmap

Everything we’re doing here — at its core — is providing the raw data or first-order derived data that a fintech needs to really make an impact. The Liabilities launch is a good example of that: There was no place in our dataset to put an APR, but we had demand from customers for these data points.

I would expect to see a lot more from us over the next year, listening to our customers, and adding in data points they want but we don’t have. We’ll add them in in an expandable, replicatable way. We’re not just going to get one student loan — one element — for you. If we can’t cover eighty to ninety five percent of the market, we’re not very useful. So, adding breadth as well as depth will be part of our product roadmap. You’ll be seeing more liabilities asset classes later this year, including credit cards, mortgages, HELOCs.

The work we’ve done on investments which came from rolling in a lot of the Quovo technology — that’s already been initially launched this year. We need to keep doubling down on it because investments are probably the most complicated of any account type we work with. So, we’re really just at the tip of the iceberg for investment assets.

Whatever that one data point you need, we want to be able to source that one piece of insight you need to service your customers.

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Christmas is just around the corner: Start saving now to avoid headaches later

… adults admitting they go into debt during the season, according to Dana Marineau, a financial advocate at personal finance company Credit Karma.
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Marianne Sierk and Robbie Mortillaro bought a home for $275,000 outside Baltimore. It fit their budget but needed work. Here are the lessons they learned from renovating themselves. Andrea Kramar / Elaina Kimes, Andrea Kramar / Elaina Kimes

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Even though the kids are just heading back to school and December may seem far away, it’s not too early to draw up a financial plan for the holidays.

That’s because creating your financial blueprint now can help avoid headaches later, like overspending and sinking into debt, experts say.

Heading into the holidays without a plan can increase the risk of unraveling an entire year’s worth of financial discipline – as well as undermining your enjoyment of the season. Unfortunately, most Americans enter the holiday season without a financial game plan.

“We found that two-thirds of Americans do not have a holiday budget,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst of Bankrate.com. “That can certainly present problems given the fact that the holidays generate lots of one-time big expenses and it happens every year.”

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August is a prime time to start planning, and this year provides a bonus: Because there are five Fridays in the month, some workers will receive an extra paycheck, McBride says. It’s a great opportunity to sock away that money for the holidays and begin building a cushion to weather higher spending, he adds.

Below are tips from experts on how to start a financial plan for the holidays.

Create a budget

Racking up credit card bills isn’t uncommon at the holidays, with more than one in four adults admitting they go into debt during the season, according to Dana Marineau, a financial advocate at personal finance company Credit Karma. Creating a budget can aid you in sidestepping the debt trap, she adds.

As part of the budget, make a list of specific items you’d like to buy for friends and family members to help you avoid impulse purchases, Marineau recommends.

“Be thoughtful about what you want to buy,” she says. “Maybe you see a great sweater you get targeted on Instagram. You think, ‘Maybe my Aunt Mary would like that,’ but don’t allow the impulse of the targeted advertising” to sway you.

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Don’t forget costs beyond gifts

Holiday shoppers often forget about costs like travel and entertaining, McBride notes. When you create your budget, make sure to add in the expense of flights, hotels, dining out and other ancillary costs.

These costs can often exceed spending on gifts, with credit bureau Experian finding that the typical American who plans to travel at the holidays spends about $930, compared with about $850 in gift purchases.

Put money aside now

Don’t wait until the last minute to save for holiday shopping and travel. If you receive an extra paycheck in August, sock away part or all of the money, as McBride recommends. And remember that some of your holiday expenses may occur far earlier than you expect, such as if you buy airline tickets in October for a family visit in December.

“Put a portion of every paycheck toward holiday spending,” McBride recommends. “When the fall comes and you start to begin incurring holiday expenses, you’ll have some money set aside.”

Rethink your gift priorities

Lastly, rethinking gift-giving can help save money and time.

Anne Van Donsel of Burlington, Vermont, notes that her family, which is scattered around the country, opted to stop exchanging gifts a few years ago.

“It takes so much pressure off everything because you can enjoy the holidays without going broke,” she says. Instead of buying gifts, family members then have more money to spend on travel to visit each other, she adds.

“It makes it so it’s not overwhelming from a time perspective or financial perspective,” she says. “It takes you off that roller-coaster.”

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/08/26/christmas-coming-whats-your-holiday-financial-plan/2094971001/

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Fujitsu takes on fintech with AI credit-scoring tool

TOKYO — Japanese information technology group Fujitsu will offer financial institutions a credit-scoring tool that uses artificial intelligence to screen …

TOKYO — Japanese information technology group Fujitsu will offer financial institutions a credit-scoring tool that uses artificial intelligence to screen prospective borrowers.

The Tokyo-based company envisions the cloud-based software, which will be available starting in October, being used by lenders mainly to assess small, owner-operated businesses.

Fujitsu sees a need for such tools amid a shortage of data specialists available to perform credit analysis in Japan’s financial sector.

With financial technology startups proliferating, the IT-industry blue chip seeks to draw on its existing customer relationships in marketing the AI software.

Credit scores will be generated based on such information as bank and business transactions. Lenders will need prospective borrowers’ consent to use such data.

Fujitsu has yet to decide on pricing for the tool but envisions offering both flat-rate and performance-based plans. The latter would let Fujitsu receive compensation if the tool leads to an approved loan.

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