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In financial services, representation matters

In financial services, representation matters, Kinly

“There are so many different entities that focus on underserved communities, but they typically don't look like the communities that they serve,” says Donald Hawkins, fintech serial entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Kinly, a neobank working to build generational wealth for the Black community.

“I would say our secret sauce is representation.” The leadership team at Kinly is two-thirds female, two-thirds Black and 100 percent BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color).

Representation matters in terms of who's building the product too. Kinly has looked at ways to uplift Black America through its financial programs and products, from creating accessible financial education tools to offering no overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements.

He adds that digital banking has been a safe zone — one where Black Americans are shielded from the biases they have historically encountered from in-person banking. In this video, Hawkins connects with small business owners across the country to better understand the need for access to financial services in Black America.

Early access to crypto

Kinly has partnered with Visa and will be first to pilot Visa’s new suite of crypto APIs, which will enable its customers to purchase and trade digital assets held by Anchorage Digital, a federally chartered digital asset bank.

“Visa was really thoughtful about partnering with us because we care about the education side of it,” said Hawkins. “We put together a robust financial education program to show our members exactly what cryptocurrency is, its volatility, different types of cryptocurrency, what the heck is blockchain, so we can help them make actionable decisions that are good for them.”

Financial education is key to financial independence

More than teach consumers about crypto, Kinly will incorporate foundational financial education into their platform with bite-sized “playlists” — podcast-like mini courses that present key concepts about money and investing through a jargon-free approach anyone can understand.

“People want a conversation,” said Hawkins. “They want regular people to be there, to show them that ‘Hey, I understand that you've been in the debt trap. I've been in it too. And now I'm leading a company to help you and a lot of other people get out of it and hopefully help younger generations not even get into it at all.’”

Kinly will also launch a Kinly Visa Debit card, which offers digital-first features like early access to wages with Early Direct Deposit1, a Cash Back for Buying Black program, and financial education and budgeting tools to improve spending habits.

Looking ahead, Hawkins is working with organizations to help Kinly customers access funds for career development and is even considering local banking lounges in key cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Oakland.

“We’re really thoughtful about the stages of your life, from debtor to saver to investor,” says Hawkins. “What does the lifecycle look like for our members? What is their goal? The answer: financial independence. Because we’re building our team to look like and represent the market that we serve, we’ll always be in a position to win.”

More announcements from Kinly

Partnership announcement

Sioux Falls-based Central Payments announces six partner launches

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Central Payments, a prepaid card issuer, has announced the market launch of financial technology products for six partners leveraging its award-winning Open*CP Fintech API Marketplace. Companies coming to market include Kinly (formally First Boulevard), Wellthi, Soon, DraftFuel, Fourth and Tapcheck. “We developed OpenCP because technology, charter, and choice together are unique and compelling characteristics for banking-as-a-service,” Trent Sorbe, president and founder of Central Payments, said in a prepared statement. “I cannot think of a better way to build off our momentum from 2021 than to add these six companies to the OpenCP partner portfolio.” Kinly, Wellthi, Soon and DraftFuel are the first to reach market after completing Falls Fintech, the accelerator program created by Central Payments to bridge the fintech-bank partnership gap. As part of their Falls Fintech experience, all four companies integrated with Open*CP to accelerate their speed to market. Kinly is a digitally native fintech committed to improving the financial livelihood of Black America with a new full-scale digital banking app and debit card, issued by Central Payments’ parent Central Bank of Kansas City (CBKC). ADVERTISEMENT Wellthi is a B2B2C embedded social finance software that connects banks and credit unions of all sizes to help financial institutions make saving, spending, and fundraising as a group safe, simple, and transparent for customers. Soon is an automated wealth management platform that helps people from all financial backgrounds and investing experience to grow their wealth, as they spend with a Soon Visa Debit Card. DraftFuel is a gaming app that allows users to enjoy responsible gaming by automating the collection of discretionary funds to allocate to one’s sportsbook, online casino, and daily fantasy sports accounts without breaking the bank.