By Bryce Galen for LinkedIn
Today, we’re announcing what we’re building at Zero: a first-of-its-kind Visa card called Zerocard and a mobile app that combines the best aspects of debit cards with the best aspects of credit cards.
With Zerocard, users get more cash back per transaction than they would if they used any other card on the market, plus the added transparency of debit-style functionality, with all of their transactions in a single streamlined view. The Zero app displays Zerocard purchases along with deposits and withdrawals in one place, with a real time net balance to help users better manage their finances.
Zero was born out of a frustration — one we think many people share. We’re constantly chasing down the best rewards. Sometimes, we spend across different cards, depending on whichever airline or retailer gives the most ‘points’ in the best ‘category’. All the while, we’re racking up balances and dealing with the headaches of tracking monthly bills and spending in more than one place.
All this confusion usually leads to spending with less oversight and discretion. Even if you have the best financial discipline in the world today and always pay off all balances in full, when you use credit cards, it’s a statistical reality that you’re more likely to overspend and potentially even end up in debt in the future.
Debit cards don’t have this problem and are great because of the balance oversight they provide, but due to a complex set of regulations, banks have been unable to provide rewards associated with debit card spending. Zero solves this problem for the first time.
New Functionality — With our app, Zerocard acts like a debit card, with deposits and withdrawals appearing in one place with a real-time, net balance. Unlike debit cards, however, it processes on credit card networks, thus allowing users to earn a flat cash back rate on all spending regardless of category.
New Design — Constructed of solid metal, Zerocard comes in four levels, which vary in terms of the rewards percentages they earn and the minimum annual spending required to qualify. The entry-level Zerocard Quartz earns 1.0%, Zerocard Graphite earns 1.5%, Zerocard Magnesium earns 2.0% and Zerocard Carbon earns 3.0% cash back. Higher rewards card levels will require $25k to $100k in annual spending to qualify. Zero is waiving the minimum spending requirements for a limited time for people who sign up for early access at zerofinancial.com and successfully invite friends to also sign up.
New Economics — Zero generates revenue from merchant processing costs rather than charging customers typical banking fees, and reshapes the cost structure in banking through reduced overhead such as brick and mortar locations and advertising. By taking a mobile-centric, referral-based approach to acquiring customers, Zero is able to provide not only better rewards on spending than traditional card-issuing banks, we can also provide higher interest on deposits than leading savings accounts. Interest as well as cash back rewards on all purchases is unlimited and automatically deposited into customer accounts on a monthly basis.
New Features — Zero features a modern mobile app, solid metal card, free use at more than 50,000 ATMs (that’s roughly twice as many as the largest bank in the country), access to 24/7 customer support via in-app live chat or over the phone, and an Intelligent Advisor that forecasts customers’ balances based on past trends. Deposits will be FDIC-insured, and Visa’s Zero Liability Policy protects customers if their card is ever lost, stolen, or fraudulently used.
We just raised our $2.5 million seed round, led by ENIAC Ventures, with New Enterprise Associates, Nyca Partners, Lightbank, and Middleland Capital, to carry out our vision of giving people a new way to think about their personal finances.
Expect to hear more from us soon as we prepare to launch early next year.
For more about Zero, read about us in Wall Street Journal.
First appeared at LinkedIn