Author: Brian Hamilton, CEO, Co-Founder
When we set out to build One, we imagined banking for real life. The shape of our jobs, relationships, and households are rapidly evolving, and traditional banks haven’t caught up to the needs of today’s lives—especially those of average families all across the country, who are struggling more than ever.
Despite the fact that 52% of Americans live in “middle-income” households, there doesn’t seem to be a banking service actually built with them in mind. In fact, according to a new online Harris Poll survey, nearly 4 in 5 (79%) Americans feel that wealthy customers have access to more programs and offerings from traditional banks than middle-income customers do.
In addition, 3 in 5 (62%) of Americans also say traditional banks don’t offer regular customers the same quality of customer service as they do the wealthy. And when you consider that real wages for the middle class, when adjusted for inflation, have actually been stagnant or declining since the 1970s, this means that an average household has less purchasing power, and receives fewer benefits and poorer service from their financial institution, as each year passes. Combined with the unprecedented stress caused by a pandemic and resulting recession this year, this has become a real crisis for those that work so hard to keep their, and our communities, country, and world, afloat.
We designed One to be different. We believe that hard-working people deserve a banking service that makes their money work for them, not the other way around. When we launched our early access beta in March, we announced our plan to build a powerful app that helps you build healthy financial habits and emergency savings, and pays you real interest on those savings, offers credit when you need it based on your income rather than purely your credit score, and makes it easy to organize and share money with others, while simplifying the entire banking experience.
Today, we’re proud to officially release One, the first digital banking service that seamlessly combines saving, spending, sharing, and borrowing into one account—with one card. You can use it jointly with anyone in your life, and there are no fees, overdrafts, minimums or “gotchas.” Just a fair transparent banking product, that hopefully helps to alleviate some of the financial anxiety that is permeating our lives these days.
Here’s how it works:
Pockets & Sharing
The way modern households and families need to share money is changing. A recent Credit Karma survey found that 37% of married millennials keep their finances separate from their partner’s—along with 36% of Gen Xers and 27% of baby boomers. And, many people are managing expenses with roommates, children, siblings, caregivers, former spouses, and others. Banking has simply not kept up with the times.
So we created Pockets, a new way to organize your money and easily share it with others. You can create Pockets (for free) for any spending or savings goal, and share them with anyone in your life. There are no fees, paperwork, or application processes, and no more one-off payment requests between you and others that share money on an ongoing basis. People can now have one. simple. account…with the ability to organize and share their money in a way that reflects their responsibilities and goals. You can create Pockets for any ongoing need or for something short term – it’s entirely up to you.
You can use Pockets to stick to a budget, manage household expenses, keep roommate bill-chasing to a minimum, or help pool money in support of an older relative or personal cause. At One, some of us get creative when we name our Pockets (aka Burrito budget) and some of us are more serious when we name our Pockets (e.g. Mom healthcare). Whatever you decide to call them, Pockets are designed to give you clear visibility and more options when it comes to your money. And when you’re spending, you can tell the One app which pocket to use for each purchase when you use your card or send a payment.
Borrow: One Credit Line
We know that some months are easier than others, and some months you need an extra boost to get by. Most banks don’t seem to extend any helpful cashflow options to their customers and we knew there had to be a better way. Why not give people flexibility instead of fees, and access to credit at a great rate to cover life’s inevitable and unexpected speed bumps, just like your 8th-grade teacher gave you a way to earn extra credit when a test didn’t go so well.
Every One account comes with an integrated Credit Line. If you pay the borrowed amount back within the calendar month, you pay no interest. If you need to carry a balance into the next month, you pay 1% per month (12% APR) on any amount borrowed. This is the most affordable and flexible overdraft facility we know of, and everyone deserves one.
When you set up a recurring direct deposit (which could be a paycheck, social security, or other source of income), you become automatically eligible for a larger Credit Line up to the size of your paycheck or monthly income. The more you direct deposit, the larger the eligible line becomes (obviously subject to a few of the normal credit qualifications, because yes, we would like you to pay us back!). Imagine actually getting something back from your bank for the honor of receiving your hard-earned paycheck, as opposed to not even a ‘thank you’, an inconsequential interest rate and a bunch of fees.
Saving for the future hasn’t felt or been this hard for so many in a long, long time. When we designed our Save Pockets we wanted everyone to have the ability to automatically set aside a bit of their recurring income, or round up a little of every card transaction, and watch it grow regardless of the size of their paycheck or their financial situation. That’s why every One account comes with a Save Pocket and an Auto-Save Pocket.
- Your primary One Save Pocket will earn 1.00% Annual Percentage Yield (APY)*, with no minimum balance required, for balances up to $5,000, with no paycheck or direct deposit requirements. When you add your income direct deposit, that limit increases to $25,000.
- Your Auto-Save pocket earns 3.00% APY*, and you can contribute to it via your One card spend or a recurring direct deposit.
- You can round up One card purchases to the next dollar and deposit the difference directly into Auto-Save each day. Imagine building emergency savings at a rate like that with every purchase you make!
- When you connect a paycheck direct deposit, you can also automatically set aside a portion of your paycheck (up to 10%) into Auto-Save. Set it and forget it.
One Card is All You Need
Every One account comes with a Mastercard card that can be connected to Apple Pay or Google Wallet (because yes, we know, ‘touching stuff’ at a store isn’t a thing these days).
Support: Real People to Help
It’s important to know somebody is there when you need them. Not just when things don’t work or go wrong, but also when you need guidance and help in today’s ever so unexpected world. So, rather than totally automating our customer support like so many other digital banking offerings, we offer real service, with actual live people when you need it. Are we going to build a bunch of branches to go wait in line at, just to be told to go use the ATM? No. We will answer the phone though! (Crazy idea, I know.) We also let you schedule a call when it’s most convenient for you, chat with an agent when you need to multi-do(task), and speak with a real person to solve your problem. And we have a network of 55k fee-free ATMs so that you can access your cash whenever and wherever you need it, without hassle.
The real people who are still getting life done, despite all of the uncertainty and being stretched so thin, are the ones who inspire us to keep us pushing ahead at One. We hear the voices of the people who are working hard, paying down debt, and moving forward with their dreams, regardless of what the world throws at them. And it’s an obvious understatement to say that 2020 has brought with it a whole host of new challenges. There has never been more need for banking that supports everyone in their real, actual, life. Life in all its messy, mixed-up beautiful glory. The only One we have.
We’re building One for these true life stories. We hope it makes the money part just a little easier, so can you focus on the human part. We’d love for you to check out One, experience what we’re building and tell us what you think we can do better. Just like life, our approach to life-based banking won’t be perfect right out of the gate, so we’ll always be learning and improving based on what we hear from you, our customers, the people that make it all happen.
Welcome to One.
*Annual Percentage Yield effective as of 9/1/2020 and subject to change.
Survey methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of One from Sept 1-3, 2020 among 2,054 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie is a tech and finance writer, covering stories from building better financial health to credit cards. They are currently based in Sacramento, CA with their puppy Ollie and cat Bagel.