Varo to Become America’s First Digital National Bank

Colin Walsh
Feb 10 · 4 min read

This Changes Banking Forever

It’s a historic day for Varo, and the banking industry. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has formally approved our application for deposit insurance. This is a landmark approval that paves the way for Varo to become America’s first-ever digital national bank.

WHY THIS MATTERS TO CUSTOMERS

Traditional banks have fallen short in meeting the financial needs of everyday Americans and, since the financial crisis of 2008–9, it has only gotten worse. Fast forward to today, when we are enjoying historic economic growth, yet less than one-third of Americans are considered financially ‘healthy.’ That is unacceptable, but also addressable. Varo is focused on delivering greater financial inclusion — giving every American equal opportunity to access powerful, affordable financial services from a bank they can trust.

We started Varo with a mission to improve the financial lives of our customers. Through a sponsor bank partner, Varo Money has offered: no-fee, premium bank accounts with an app that helps customers make the most of their money, a Visa debit card, access to over 55,000 fee-free Allpoint® ATMs, and high-interest savings accounts with seamless tools to increase personal savings. With the national bank charter, we will be offering much more through our FDIC-insured bank.

Once open, Varo Bank’s low cost, modern technology platform will enable us to innovate across a wider range of affordable products and services, focused on improving financial lives and expanding financial inclusion.

Our rapid growth demonstrates the power of technology to design banking products that customers say they love:

  • “I would like to thank Varo for giving us account holders the opportunity towards making our dreams come true.”
  • “I love everything about the services Varo provides, especially getting my work check 2 days early and being able to overdraft at no fee! Varo has changed my life and perspective on online banking.”
  • “Ever since I’ve become a member with Varo I’ve saved a significant amount of money that really pushed me to be the entrepreneur that I am.”

Our customers have shared critical insights into their dreams, ambitions, and how Varo Bank can create a 10x better banking experience — one that helps the many millions of Americans who have been overcharged and underserved get ahead.

When we launch Varo Bank, we will help customers build and access credit, achieve greater financial resilience, connect to their communities, and much more — in ways that only a modern, digital bank can do. In essence, the bank charter will help us make an even bigger difference in people’s lives.

Take Varo customer Diana Maldonado, for example. Diana has a son, and everything she does is for him: “I try to give him the best I can with what I have.” Countless fees and headaches from a big bank made life more difficult than it had to be. Once she switched to Varo, things changed for Diana. “The fact that I feel that my money is secure and safe with Varo is larger than anybody could even imagine. I feel very excited for the future.”

With Varo Bank, NA, the future of banking will be brighter than ever for the millions of Americans like Diana.

This journey doesn’t just benefit our customers, it helps create new opportunities for the financial industry at large.

WHY THIS MATTERS TO THE BANKING INDUSTRY

The FDIC’s decision to approve deposit insurance for Varo could open a new wave of financial innovation. Policy and regulatory research firm Capstone had this to say during the pending approval process: “As the first app-driven challenger bank applying for deposit insurance with a traditional charter in hand, Varo is the bellwether of the FDIC’s openness to fintech disruption of the banking sector. We view the company’s application as a gating decision on fintech for the FDIC, and approval would at least open the door for other applicants.”

Jo Ann Barefoot, the former deputy comptroller of the OCC and now CEO of Barefoot Innovation Group, pointed out that Varo’s FDIC approval is highly significant as it is the first time a mobile-first company is poised to be a fully chartered, national bank. Jo Ann said this approval, “opens the door to enabling tens of millions of Americans who have been underserved to gain access to affordable FDIC-insured banking, which will build financial health and security for individuals and communities.”

We are incredibly excited to reach this historic milestone and finalize our efforts to become the first digital national bank in the U.S. It’s the right thing for our customers and the right thing for the industry, and we are proud to lead the way toward a new era of financial opportunity and inclusion for all Americans.

    Colin Walsh

    Written by

    Co-founder and CEO @VaroMoney. Varo helps customers live better financial lives #mobile #banking #savings #lending #innovation #fintech #financial health

    Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
    Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
    Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade