Startup Launches To Combine All Of Your Credit And Debit Cards Into One Digital Card

Forget checking your balance on your mobile phone. Startup Binji wants you to use your debit card instead.

In stealth mode for the past twelve months, the Irvine, California fintech is launching a debit Mastercard that enables consumers to consolidate as many as twenty-four credit cards and debit cards into a single account.

The card’s digital display screen shows the current balance of the Binji account, the last four digits of the different funding sources and the four character nickname for each account. Before checkout, the customer chooses which funding source to use directly on the debit card via a two button interface. An accompanying mobile app provides customers with access to an FDIC insured spending account that has no fees and a fee-free network of 35,000 ATMs.

“We’ve built the most complete personal finance solution that’s available to consumers today,” said Ryan Marquis, Chief Executive Officer of Binji. “We’ve rolled three big pillars into one platform.” In addition to the debit card and mobile banking app, Binji enables customers to make peer-to-peer payments through the app. Binji, which is in the process of raising venture funding via a Series A round, makes money off the interchange fees when customers transfer cash into their account.

This isn’t the first time Marquis has tried to launch a smart credit card. In the spring of 2017 he shut down a similar startup, Plastc, after running out of money. The company raised millions of dollars through a crowdfunding campaign, but it never shipped any of the cards, leaving lots of angry customers in its wake. Marquis said while Plastc was a good idea, at the time the company launched the financial sector was in a state of flux. “The entire ecosystem was changing, including the introduction of chip-based cards. In order for Plastc to pivot and meet these new developments, it would have taken a large investment. So, ultimately the hard decision was made to shut the company down,” Marquis said, noting Binji doesn’t have the same backers that Plastc did. This time around the startup’s product has been tested and validated by Mastercard, he said. Marquis and Joseph Callahan, two veterans in the fintech space, are betting investors are ready to back a company that consolidates banking and peer-to-peer payments into one app. The company’s strategic partners include Mastercard, FirstData and SmartDisplayer, the Taiwan manufacturer of digitally powered cards. To-date it has raised $7.5 million led by SmartDisplayer.

Binji is entering an increasingly crowded market with fintechs and traditional banks jockeying for dominance. As it stands there is a slew of mobile-only banks, all offering no fees, fee-free ATM networks and generous rates on savings accounts. They are trying to stand out by doing everything from letting customers round up and save spare change to donating some of the profits of the bank to charity. At the same time, the big banks including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are all in with digital banking, rolling out new services that rely on cutting-edge technology.

Take Bank of America for one example. When the Charlotte, North Carolina bank reported first-quarter earnings last month it said it ended the three month period with 27.1 million mobile banking customers that use the app regularly. That’s up 9% on a year-over-year basis. Meanwhile, Zelle, the peer-to-peer payment service, had 5.4 million users at the end of the quarter.

Binji’s physical debit card may help the startup stand out. After all how many cards with a digital screen are in your wallet? But what Marquis thinks is the real differentiator is combining major aspects of digital banking into one platform. “We all know there are P2P platforms out there. And that there are neo challenger banks out there. But nobody’s put it into a complete solution,” said the CEO.

Binji is currently working on launching an interest-earning savings account but for now, customers get access to the spending account which supports direct deposits and provides customers with a unique account and routing number. Binji also offers early access to paychecks for users who enroll in direct deposit. That could be up to two days earlier than with traditional banks, said Marquis. There is no minimum balance required for the account.

On the peer-to-peer payments front, Marquis said the funds sent are instantly accessible since the third party bank involvement is eliminated. The physical debit card has a battery that lasts up to three years, which the company said is the typical lifespan for a debit card. Binji is focusing its efforts in the U.S. market first, going after anyone who has multiple debit and/or credit cards and wants help managing them. “We saw an opportunity to improve people’s lives by streamlining their finances through the convenience of offering app-based banking, card consolidation, and peer-to-peer payments on

one platform,” said Marquis.


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