It took a recent $14 billion valuation of Chime (the largest US Neobank) to really get my attention on how big the Neobank opportunity is. A Neobank (also known as an online bank, internet-only bank, virtual bank or digital bank) is a type of direct bank that operates exclusively online without traditional physical branch networks. My friend Stuart Sopp is the CEO of Current one of the fastest growing US Neobanks and he came back on the podcast to really bring home the opportunities missed by the big banks and a deep dive on how his Neobank works and came to be.
I have outlined some more details of the episode below but it will not do justice to leaning back and listening to Stuart talk about the industry and opportunity. Make sure your kids open a Current account.
Full Disclosure – I am a seed investor from way back.
Guest: Stuart Sopp
Profile: CEO of Current
Fun Fact: This is actually Stuart’s second time on the podcast. If you want more of Stuart, click here for his previous Panic with Friends episode, published March of this year.
What’s the Panic About:
Current CEO Stuart Sopp is doing some incredibly innovative things over at his company. So, I wanted to check back in with him since our last chat back in March to see what’s changed with him and if he can offer any new insights. Current is a digital, consumer-friendly banking company targeting groups of people who are typically overlooked at larger banks, including Millennials and Gen Z. And while big banks focus on lending and deposits, Current focuses on spending. Before starting Current, Stuart made a name for himself developing financial systems as a senior trader for big names like Morgan Stanley, Citi and Deutsche Bank. Now, Stuart’s company is basically the antithesis to these big banks. Since I last had Stuart on, Current has seen incredible growth — surpassing over 1 million active users at the height of the pandemic. In this episode, Stuart and I discuss stocks, cryptocurrency, big banks, what Neobanks like Current are and where they’re heading, fintech, his competitors, the wealth gap, stimulus and more.
Digital banking companies like Current are pulling back the veil on the wealth inequality that exists in the U.S. As Stuart mentions, banks aren’t meant to be “one size fits all.” Our current financial system isn’t working for everyone, but rather has overwhelmingly enriched a smaller group of people at the expense of others. Stuart — and companies like his — will continue to help address this inequality gap and improve financial outcomes for all people through innovative technology. This is something I looked forward to following.
“We don’t focus on deposits, we focus on the spend experience.”
“Valuations and unit economics are like gravity.”
Food for Thought:
As Stuart explains in the episode, banks had to get a whole bunch of things wrong to allow Neobanks a lane to grow so big in plain sight. It is not just the constant drone of technology that demands incumbents innovate or die…you must pay attention to THE CUSTOMER.