Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

This new startup is a digital bank helping college students gain financial literacy, manage money, and build credit.

I definitely made some bad financial decisions when I was college-aged. Got a credit card, maxed it out, got another, and learned the hard way about the onerous pain of compounding interest at usurious rates.

There are 20 million college students in the US, and I hope most of them are way smarter than me. But financial literacy remains relatively low amongst this demographic, and banks tend to approach this market as being sheep-for-the-shearing.

A new startup in NYC is working to change this. Bloom is launching a new digital bank (and card) directed at college students. Bloom helps you build your credit through responsible spending, allows you to manage your finances through an easy-to-use mobile app, and even has special offers from merchants in your college town. Most importantly, they charge zero fees.

New digital banks have been changing the financial services landscape all over the world, the past few years. N26 launched in Berlin in 2013 and now has more than 5 million banking customers across Europe. Monzo launched in London and completely changed the UK banking landscape. While the legacy banks are still stuck in the old banking paradigm, these new challenger banks are able to offer the pure-digital experience that young people today want and expect.

This Fintech revolution has been slower to come to the US, as our banking regulations have been slower to adapt to the new world order. But N26 is now operating here, and new entrants like Bloom will undoubtedly grow and thrive in the coming decade.

Bloom’s cofounders have a very clear mission: treat college students right, and they will become very loyal (and profitable) customers in the long run. Help them learn financial literacy, help them build their credit, help them manage their money and make good decisions. If you do that, they will graduate from college, get good jobs, and be loyal banking customers for a long time. Seems pretty simple to me. I just wish Bloom had been around when I was in college.

I’m a Silicon Valley guy. I teach entrepreneurship at Stanford, coach startup CEO’s at Miller Center, and run the 4thly Startup Accelerator. Also, I love tacos.

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