PNC Launches A Fintech Startup Inside The Bank

Forbes | Tom Groenfeldt | Sep 3, 2019

Numo fintech within PNC - PNC Launches A Fintech Startup Inside The BankBanking incubators come in all sorts of flavors — often a program to attract outside companies and offer them mentors and perhaps some financial sponsorship for a set period working at the bank or virtually.

PNC has created a startup program, numo, that functions as an internal startup, complete with a pre-negotiated equity split between PNC and numo employees, said David Passavant, numo CEO.

The first development has been indi, a mobile phone-based bank account for gig workers. It offers tax calculations, tax savings goals and dynamic adjustments when users save ahead or fall behind. It also reminds them when quarterly taxes are due. The account has no minimum balance and no monthly service fee. It is in testing with numo staff and has a waiting list.  The indi account is an FDIC-insured account held at PNC Bank with a Visa prepaid debit card and is available for both iOS and Android.

No major US bank had built an account for gig workers, said Passavant, although Mastercard recently introduced real-time payments for gig workers.

“How do you estimate your tax liability when you don’t have an employer doing it for you? We built a system with intelligence to estimate what you should set aside for taxes.”

While this sounds pretty basic, and begs the question of why banks have been so slow to innovate in areas as obvious as early access to paychecks and financial health coaching, Passavant said banks are cautious because the stakes are so high.

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“When you have millions of customers and then want to move into something like that, you have to be careful you are not offering tax advice or getting into predatory lending.”

Operating on new technology numo uses Visa DPS for its debit card transactions and built the front end within the group. Now it is looking to partner with employers who use a lot of gig workers to help distribute the platform.

A second app under development is a world away from the gig economy. — a service for companies which run portfolios of retail properties.

“Our team saw an opportunity to create an analytics platform to help them.”

Although a lot has been written about the death of bricks and mortar retail, PNC knows, as the fourth largest commercial lender in the country, that physical retail is very much alive. Passavant hastened to add that the analytical platform doesn’t use any PNC data but purchases anonymized financial and social data for its analytics.

“We can use it to find interesting patterns, like a group who might shop at a mall 15 miles away. “

One location analytical firm found that shoppers at a pet supply store often followed up going to an electronics store, not as obvious as finding Panera and Trader Joe’s locations in the same area.

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“With this, a real estate firm would be able to tell companies that own property portfolios that here is a brand you might want to target because they are expanding and their customers shop at places like this.”

A third area of focus for numo is regulatory technology.

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