How To Earn More Money From Your Savings Now That Banks are Raising Interest Rates

Your bank may have a higher-yielding savings account — but it won’t necessarily let you know.  The Federal Reserve has raised its key interest rate five times this year, most recently on Wednesday, as part of its ongoing effort to slow the pace of inflation.

The idea is that since the U.S. central bank is making it more expensive to borrow money, the demand for goods and services will drop, thereby causing prices to fall.  A side effect of those increased interest rates is that banks can increase the amount of money they pay to consumers who put some of their dollars in savings accounts. As banks earn more on the money they lend, those same institutions can offer higher returns to their customers.

Think of it as the virtuous cycle of the lending and saving relationship that banks have with their customers. But until recently, the interest earned on savings accounts hasn’t been all that impressive. “Every interest rate has fallen quite far from previous decades,” said Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride in an email.

Up until this year, McBride said, interest rates had declined for the better part of 40 years — and so has the amount of money that banks pay into those accounts. “Looking back to the early 1980s, the Fed funds rate, Treasury yields, and mortgage rates were in the double digits,” he said. “In 1990, the Fed funds rate was over 8%, Treasury yields were 7% to 9%, mortgage rates were 10%.

“By 2020, the Fed funds rate was near zero, Treasury yields were under 2%, and mortgage rates were 2.5% to 3%.”Now that these rates are rising again, money costs more money. But that means there’s an opportunity to get higher returns on deposits. McBride advises customers to shop around to get the best return on their savings.

Not all banks have significantly increased their interest rates for savings accounts. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the average national savings account interest rate is 0.17%. Those low interest rates on savings account deposits recently caught the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who pressed big bank CEOs last week on why rates weren’t higher.

“As rates continue to rise, we would expect to continue to raise the rates we pay to customers,” Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said in congressional testimony Thursday. Some financial institutions, especially those that are Internet-only with no brick-and-mortar locations, have traditionally advertised higher interest rates with their high-yield savings account products. Some of these banks offer more than 1% or 2% — and in some rare cases more than 3% on savings accounts, according to NerdWallet representative Chanelle Bessette.

Bessette said online banks have fewer overhead costs than brick-and-mortar branches, and also must do more to compete for deposits. Both Bankrate and NerdWallet offer lists of institutions currently offering the highest yields. Among them are Discover, Capital One, American Express Savings, and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. McBride, the chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, said it is easy to enroll in one of those accounts, even if you do your primary banking elsewhere.

“You can open an online savings account with just a few minutes of your time, and link it to the checking account at your current financial institution in order to move money back and forth seamlessly,” he said. “If your bank has rolled out a new savings account with a higher yield than the one you’re currently in, just reach out and ask to transfer your money into the new, higher yielding account.”

In some cases, banks aren’t making it clear to existing customers that they can now obtain a greater savings-account yield, McBride said. “We are seeing some chicanery where banks roll out a new savings account that offers an attractive yield while the existing account holders remain in the original account with the original rate,” McBride said in an email.

“It is easy enough to switch to the new account, but you have to take the action to make that happen, the bank won’t come knocking on your door with that opportunity.”

Source: How to earn more money from your savings now that banks are raising interest rates

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Savings interest rates have slowly been going up in the last few months, and the Federal Reserve has continued to raise interest rates to address inflation. If you’re ready to take charge of your savings and find ways to earn more interest on your money, here are five options to explore.

1. Ask your bank for an increase in your savings rate

While savings interest rates have tentatively increased in the last few months across various financial institutions, this doesn’t necessarily mean your savings account will see a sudden bump in its rate.

If your bank hasn’t made an announcement yet, Maggie Gomez,  CFP® professional and owner of Money with Maggie, suggests asking your bank for an increase in the current rate you receive. 

Gomez explains some financial institutions won’t immediately deliver a higher rate unless consumers get proactive. “Later, to be more competitive, they’ll increase their rates more publicly, but I think it’ll be really slow,” Gomez adds.

2. Search online financial institutions for a high-yield savings account

According to the FDIC, the national average rate interest rate on savings accounts is 0.17% APY as of May 2022. However, several financial institutions pay much more than the national rate.

Jerel Butler, CFP® professional and founder of Millennial Financial Solutions, suggests looking at online financial institutions for competitive interest rates on savings accounts.

“It’s a little bit tricky with inflation going on,” Butler notes. “The best savings option for a typical savings account is an online savings account.”

Most banks earn compound interest daily. Meanwhile, credit unions usually earn compound interest monthly. If you’re not sure about your account’s compound frequency, contact your bank’s customer support.

3. Consider switching banks if the rate is worth it

Butler says you should also take the time to explore other financial institutions and compare different savings accounts. 

“This is a great chance to take advantage of the rising interest rate market, and you may be able to take advantage of a welcome bonus at another bank,” adds Butler. “A lot of banks — as a result of the higher interest rates — are running special promotions, too.”

If you find a specific account that provides more compelling offers than your current bank, you might consider switching institutions. 

4. Buy savings bonds

Savings bonds are federally issued debt securities. Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist for Ally, says federally issued bonds are a safe investment option, although there are a couple of things to keep in mind. 

“There’s a limit on what you can invest in those. They are also probably a little more volatile than a CD or savings account, so you have to take that into account,” explains Bell. 

5. Build a CD ladder with short-term CDs if you find a competitive rate

Butler says building a CD ladder might be ideal if you find a competitive rate and are generally risk-averse. However, if you’re not risk-averse, Butler adds there are more options you should consider first.

CD ladders offer a way to take advantage of higher interest rates on CDs. Instead of depositing all your money into a single CD and locking your deposits for a set time, you’ll split your savings into a mix of term lengths.

Bell suggests sticking to CDs under one or two-year terms. If interest rates increase during the year, a CD ladder provides enough flexibility to buy a new CD once your short-term accounts mature. 

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Related contents:

Shivalik Small Finance Bank revises FD, savings account interest rates The Economic Times

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The Single Most Important Thing to Know About Financial Aid: It’s a Sham

 

In early March, a 17-year-old high school senior I’ll call Ethan got a text message from Ursinus College, a small, private liberal arts school located about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia. It said, “Great news, [Ethan]! Ursinus College has awarded you additional money! Log into your portal to view your updated financial aid award.”

A few days later, Ethan got a letter from Ursinus repeating the same offer. “The Office of Student Financial Aid recently received additional information regarding your application for financial aid and, as a result, a change has been made to your original award,” it said. In December, Ursinus had offered Ethan a “Gateway Scholarship” of $35,000 to offset the college’s listed price of more than $72,000 for tuition, room, and board. Now it had added a “Grizzly Grant” (Ursinus’ mascot is a bear) of $3,500 to the mix.

It was puzzling. Ethan is not financially needy. One of his parents is a nonprofit executive and the other is a public school teacher in suburban Maryland. They own their home outright and earn well over $200,000 per year, putting them comfortably in the top 10 percent of household income nationwide. Ethan’s standardized test scores were good and grades were fine, but mostly not in the kind of rigorous Advance Placement–type classes that are mandatory for admission to selective universities.

All of this was in the application he sent to Ursinus last year, and he hadn’t talked to them since. What “additional information” were they talking about? Meanwhile, Ethan has a cousin who is also a high school senior. I’ll call her Ashley. Her overall academic profile was better than Ethan’s—higher grades and lots of AP courses, somewhat lower SATs. But her economic circumstances were not.

Ashley also lives in Maryland. Her mother, a single parent, dropped out of community college and works in the back office of a local restaurant chain. Her income is well below the median for someone with college-age children, and she has no real financial assets to fall back on.

Yet Ashley wasn’t getting unsolicited text messages offering her more financial aid. Penn State, a public land-grant university that allegedly has a mission to provide broad access to college, had recently sent her a financial aid letter. Like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II, their offer was this: nothing. Tuition, room, and board would be $49,200—almost $16,000 more than private Ursinus College wanted to charge her wealthier cousin. To pay, she was welcome to get a job, or take out loans.

Ethan and Ashley were learning a lesson about the way the business of higher education actually works in this country: College financial aid is largely an illusion. Government financial aid is real, if inadequate—federal Pell grants and state appropriations to reduce tuition at public universities definitely exist. But the financial aid purportedly provided by colleges themselves is mostly fiction.

The whole public-facing system of college admissions—in which admissions decisions are based on rigorous academic standards and financial aid is supposedly provided to those who are most academically and financially deserving—is an elaborate stage play meant to flatter privileged families and the reputations of colleges themselves. The real system, hidden behind the scenery, is much closer to the mechanics of pure capitalism, driven by an industry of for-profit consultants and relentlessly focused on the institutional bottom line.

That’s a huge problem for students and parents trying to make expensive, life-changing choices about higher education. Many families make bad decisions based on the misleading vocabulary colleges use around financial aid, leading to broken futures and, increasingly, unaffordable student loans. If you have children and are planning to help them go to college anytime soon, understand this: Much of what colleges are going to tell you about money isn’t true.

There are, to be sure, a few extremely wealthy institutions that really do provide financial aid. If you are among the small number of low-income students that Harvard chooses to admit after filling much of its class with legacies, athletes, and the children of wealth, status, and power, you won’t have to pay tuition. The Ivies and a handful of other elite schools have “need blind” admissions, which means they consider your application regardless of your financial circumstances, and offer generous aid to those who need it.

Parents can also find good, reasonably priced public options in some states, which allow them to avoid the shell games involving financial aid. Public universities in North Carolina remain very affordable, for instance. And some states also provide grants to students that are in fact based on their financial needs or academic achievements.

Tuition and fees for the State University of New York system are relatively low to begin with, roughly $8,000 to $10,000 for in-state students. But the state of New York also runs a state need-based scholarship program that, combined with a federal Pell grant, can be enough to cover tuition and part of room and board.

But if you live in a less generous part of the country and your kids are applying out-of-state, or they have their sights set on a private college without an Ivy League endowment, then you have wandered into a very different kind of market, one that has a lot more in common with airlines hawking seats or dealers selling cars than you might realize.

The language of admissions and financial aid suggests that colleges review every application with two questions in mind: “Does this applicant meet our academic standards? If so, how much scholarship aid, given their financial circumstances and academic merit, do they deserve?”

In reality, the large majority of undergraduates attend a college that accepts most or all applicants. And while the “sticker price” for tuition at some institutions exceeds $50,000, most colleges don’t have enough market power to charge anything close to that. For them, the real concerns are, “How likely is this applicant to enroll, if we accept them? And what’s the most amount of money they’d be willing to pay?”

To answer those questions, many colleges hire expensive consulting firms to help them manage a complex process of marketing, admissions, and pricing. The firms design social media campaigns and produce the flood of glossy brochures that pours through the U.S. postal system every year.

They take the wealth of detailed financial information that parents are required to disclose on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, and feed it into the same kinds of complex algorithms that airlines use to constantly change the price of seats in the months, weeks, and days before a flight.

They also use a probabilistic strategy for deciding whom to admit, based on a combination of how much they think parents are willing to pay and how likely students are to enroll. Because of online systems like the Common App, it’s easy for students to apply to many colleges. At less desired colleges—the safety schools and fourth choices—“yield” rates, meaning the percentage of admitted students who enroll, are often below 20 percent.

So they admit 3,000 students to fill a freshman class of 600 and hope that past statistical patterns hold. If too many students enroll, there’s no room in the dorms. Too few, and the college goes broke. The whole process is called “enrollment management.” To understand how important enrollment management is in the higher education industry, look to administrative hierarchy:

Ursinus College, for example, has a director of admissions who reports to a vice president and dean of enrollment management and marketing. When Washington College mailed Ethan three “VIP admission” tickets and an all-access lanyard with his name printed on it for an “Admitted Students Day Music Festival” in April, it was trying to increase its yield.

When one college after another sent Ethan a letter offering him tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money, in most cases it probably had nothing to do with their evaluation of Ethan’s achievements. It was more likely because market research told them that students like the feeling of being awarded something, and the enrollment management algorithm suggested that full tuition minus $25,000 or $30,000 was a price his parents might be willing to pay.

The Ursinus College Office of Student Financial Services did not receive any additional information regarding Ethan’s application. That was a fib. An Ursinus spokesman confirmed for me that the extra award was based on his original application and “other financial considerations.”

It would not be surprising if those “other financial considerations” included a report from an enrollment management consultant—the firms Ruffalo Noel Levitz and EAB are two of the biggest—showing that acceptance and pricing projections as of early March were looking soft. When colleges find their enrollment numbers lagging, they act like a car dealer with too many of last year’s models on the lot, and put tuition on sale.

Like most colleges, Ursinus’ $72,000 list price is an imaginary number; on average, it charges students only about one-third of that. It is not providing Gateway Scholarships and Grizzly Grants from a pot of actual money. It’s just pretending to, because that’s what students and parents like to hear.

Colleges, unsurprisingly, are shy to discuss the consultants that shape the inner workings of their aid process, and will resort to linguistic contortions when asked about it. When I asked Ursinus whether it awarded its “Grizzly Grants” based on a report from an enrollment management consultant, a spokesman responded that it works “in partnership with a financial aid leveraging firm” and that “we monitor the progress of the first-year class on a routine basis throughout the enrollment cycle.”

A spokesman from Clark University, which tried to entice Ethan with a “$68,000 Robert Goddard Achievement Scholarship,” told me that the school “does not rely on an enrollment management consultant.” Instead, they said, it “occasionally” hires “outside analytical support” that does “not tell us how much aid to offer any student or group of students” but does “crunch large volumes of data in a timely manner that we then use to assess our progress toward our enrollment goals and estimate/project our total aid expenditure through that enrollment cycle.”

So, not an enrollment management consultant. Just, you know, a consultant that helps them manage enrollment. But while schools may not love talking about it, nothing about this system is a secret within higher education. For instance, after taking a job in the enrollment management industry, former Ursinus vice president for enrollment Richard DiFeliciantonio wrote an essay for Inside Higher Ed in which he explained that the “financial aid matrix” colleges rely on is essentially “the same pricing technique taught to M.B.A.s and commonly used by corporations for commercial products.”

He noted that the formula considers a student’s academic achievement mostly as a “proxy” for their willingness to pay for college (as opposed to a measure of merit). This is also why, despite her financial need and solid high school achievement, Ethan’s cousin Ashley was not being inundated with texts and letters offering her more money. As DiFeliciantonio wrote: “Wealthy families are more able and less willing to pay for college while the poorer families are more willing and less able.”

In other words, parents of means who themselves have finished college are often sophisticated consumers of higher education and are able to drive a hard bargain, whereas lower-income, less-educated parents feel an enormous obligation to help their children move farther up the socioeconomic ladder and blindly trust that colleges have their best financial interests at heart. So colleges obey the algorithm and offer more financial aid to the Ethans than to the Ashleys, one of many problems identified in a recent Brookings Institution report.

Ashley submitted financial aid forms with information about her family’s modest income because everyone and everything about the process told her college aid is based on how much money you need, or deserve. She had no idea that information could be used against her. In May, New York University offered her admission if she would agree to delay enrollment until spring 2023—when, maybe not coincidentally, her good-but-not-stellar academic record would not count in the rankings data NYU submits to U.S. News & World Report.

Their price? $79,070. Their aid offer? $0, take it or leave it, with 96 hours to respond. Federal statute limits how much the Department of Education can lend to undergraduates. Freshmen can only borrow $5,500. But there is no limit on how much the department can lend to parents through a program called Parent PLUS. Nor does the department check to see if parents have the means to pay PLUS loans back.

So NYU “offered” Ashley the opportunity to borrow $5,500 and take a $1,500 work-study job. Then it offered Ashley’s mother the chance to take out a $72,099 Parent PLUS loan—more than her gross annual salary, before taxes—for the first of four undergraduate years.

Fortunately for Ashley and her mother, they knew someone who offered sensible financial advice. They turned down NYU and its offer of gargantuan loans and chose a less expensive public university. But as the countless individual stories that compose the nation’s $1.7 trillion student loan crisis show, many families make different choices. They are drawn in by a combination of optimism, blind faith, and familial obligation, and end up with debts they cannot repay. Colleges know this will happen.

Colleges do this because they want and need money. The business of filling up a class has gotten more difficult as the number of new high school graduates continues to recede from the peak millennial years, with further declines expected starting in 2025. Small, private colleges are especially vulnerable, and some have gone bankrupt in recent years.

Understanding the true nature of the college market should reduce some kinds of student stress. If you’re a high school graduate in reasonable academic standing, there are scores of good colleges ready to admit you. The real market tuition price in the big middle of the higher education sector is probably about $25,000, not the $50,000 or $60,000 you might have heard. Applying to college there isn’t like being vetted to join an exclusive social club. Nobody is really judging your worthiness for financial aid. College is just another service with a price.

The words colleges use in the admissions process, embedded in the broader portrayal of higher education in popular culture, tell a different tale, leaving first-generation students with the least money and social capital most vulnerable to exploitation. Colleges are full of great educators who want to help you learn. But when it comes to money, you’re on your own.

By Kevin Carey

Source: College financial aid: It’s a sham that depends on what colleges think families will pay.

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To Combat Billions In Unemployment Benefit Fraud, Startup SentiLink Raises $70 Million

At least in improper payments, much of it fraud, have been distributed by the Federal government since the pandemic struck in March 2020. In California alone, state officials admitted that as much as of unemployment benefits payments may have been fraudulent.

“Unemployment insurance fraud is probably the biggest fraud issue hitting banks today,” says Naftali Harris, co-founder and CEO at San Francisco’s SentiLink, which just closed a $70 million round of venture capital to expand its business of helping financial institutions detect fake and stolen identities for new account applications.

, a San Francisco-based venture firm, led the Series B round which brings SentiLink’s total capital raised to date to $85 million. Felicis, Andreessen Horowitz and NYCA also joined SentiLink’s latest capital infusion.

SentiLink plans to use the capital raised to continue to help institutions with this recent increase in fraud instances spurred by the CARES Act. They also plan to expand their fraud toolkit to prevent other types of scams, such as and, and investigate new ones.

Harris’ team has seen a huge uptick in fraud rates affecting their clients, as high as 90% among new applications, associated with the CARES Act COVID relief. Fraudsters have been using the same name, social security number or date of birth in several applications, filing in high volumes in several states.

According to Harris, his team is currently verifying around a million account openings per day, and is working with more than 100 financial institutions – due to a non-disclosure agreement Harris could not comment on which financial institutions his company serves.

The company says that beyond simply using artificial intelligence to detect fraud, they have a risk operations team that catches in real time cases of synthetic fraud – a form of identity theft in which the defrauder combines a stolen Social Security Number (SSN) and fake information to create a false identity – that would normally go unnoticed by their clients.

Harris discovered this type of fraud when he was working as a data scientist at Affirm in 2017. At the time, synthetic fraud was relatively unknown, so when he saw that crooks were creating brand new identities instead of stealing  existing ones to apply for credit, he founded SentiLink to focus on tackling this new scam. “We realized this was a really big issue and that nobody in the financial services industry was talking about it,” says Harris.

Now, criminals are creating new identities or stealing existing ones to tap into unemployment benefits. Harris says the problem is not only them stealing from the government, but uncovering the tactics they use to deposit the stolen funds.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that as a fraudster you have to be able to use the money stolen, and put it into the financial system,” Harris says.

To Harris, the biggest differentiation in SentiLink’s approach is how much it emphasizes “deep understanding of fraud and identity in our models.”

“We have a team of fraud investigators that manually review applications every day looking for fraud, and we use their insights and discoveries in our fraud models and technology,” he told TechCrunch. “This deep understanding is so important to us that every Friday the entire company spends an hour reviewing fraud cases.”

SentiLink, Harris added, focuses on “deeply” understanding fraud and identity, and then using technology to productionalize these insights.  Those discoveries include the deterioration of phone/name match data and uncovering “same name” fraud. “This deep understanding is so important that SentiLink employs a team of risk analysts whose full time job is to investigate new kinds of fraud and discover what the fraudsters are doing,” the company says.

SentiLink, like so many other startups, saw an increase in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The various government assistance programs were rife with fraud. This had a cascading effect throughout financial services, where fraudsters that had successfully stolen government money attempted to launder it into the financial system,” Harris said. “As a result we’ve been very busy, particularly with checking and savings accounts that until now have had relatively little fraud.”

genesis-3-1

The startup plans to use its new capital to build out its product suite and do some hiring. Today it has 25 employees, with five accepted offers, and expects to end the year with a headcount of 45-50.

Follow me on  or . Send me a secure .

I’m an assistant editor at Forbes covering money and markets. Before joining Forbes, I worked at NextEra Energy, Inc. developing and implementing successful media relations and public relations campaigns in the energy industry.

I graduated from Stetson University with a degree in Finance, and have a master’s degree in Journalism and International Relations from New York University, where I worked as a staff writer for Latin America News Dispatch and New York Magazine’s Bedford + Bowery.

Source: To Combat Billions In Unemployment Benefit Fraud, Startup SentiLink Raises $70 Million

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Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t

My north star(s) for philosophy, management, and politics are Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones, respectively. The Iron Bank (GoT) is a metaphor for today’s financial institutions, if present-day banks didn’t need bailouts or to invent fake accounts to juice compensation. Regardless, it was well known throughout Braavos that The Iron Bank will have its due.

If you failed to repay, they’d fund your enemies. So today’s Iron Bankers are the venture capitalists funding (any) incumbents’ enemies. If this makes VCs sound interesting/cool, don’t trust your instincts.

Lately, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the phone with my bank in an attempt to get a home equity line, as I want to load up on Dogecoin. (Note: kidding.) (Note: mostly.) If Opendoor and Zillow can use algorithms and Google Maps to get an offer on my house in 24 hours, why does it take my bank — which underwrote the original mortgage — so much longer?

How ripe a sector is for disruption is a function of several factors. One (relatively) easy proxy is the delta between price increases and inflation, and if the innovation in the sector justifies the delta. Think of the $200 cable bill, or a $5.6 million 60-second Super Bowl spot, as canaries in the ad-supported media coal mine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

It’s hard to imagine an industry more ripe for disruption than the business of money.

Let’s start with this: 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked. Half of the nation’s unbanked households say they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 34% say bank fees are too high. And, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d better hope the house isn’t cheap.

Inequity is a breeding ground for disruption, leaving underserved markets for insurgents to seize and launch an attack on incumbents from below. We have good reason to believe that’s happening in banking.

Insurgents

A herd of unicorns is at the stable door, looking to trample Wells Fargo and Chase. Fintech is responsible for roughly one in five (17%) of the world’s unicorns, more than any other sector. In addition, there are already several megalodons worth more than financial institutions that have spent generations building (mis)trust.

How did this happen? The fintechs are zeroing in on everything big banks aren’t.

Example #1: Innovation. Over the past five years, PayPal has issued 26x more patents than Goldman Sachs.

Example #2: Cost-cutting. “Neobanks” offer the basic services of a bank, with one less expensive and cumbersome feature: the branch. A traditional bank branch needs $50 million in deposits to generate an adequate return. Yet nearly half (48%) of branches in the U.S. are below that threshold. Neobanks don’t have that problem, and there are now at least 177 of them. Founders frame these offerings as more progressive, less corporate. Dave, a new banking app, offers a Founding Story on its website (illustrated with cartoon bears) about three friends “fed up” with their banking experience, often incurring $38 overdraft fees. Fed up no longer: Dave provides free overdraft protection and has 10 million customers.

Example #3: Less inequity. NYU Professor of Finance Sabrina Howell’s research found fintech lenders gave 18% of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses, while small to medium-sized banks provided just 2%. Among all loans to Black-owned firms, Professor Howell found 54% were from fintech startups. Racial discrimination is the most likely explanation, as lenders faced zero credit risk.

Example #4: Serving the underserved. Unequal access to banking is a global botheration. Almost a third of the world’s adults, 1.7 billion, are unbanked. In Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries, more than 50% of adults are unbanked.

But innovation is already on the horizon: Take Argentine fintech Ualá, whose CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri I spoke with on the Pod last week. In just 4 years, more than 3 million people have opened an account with his company — about 9% of the country — and over 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds now have a tarjeta Ualá (online wallet). Ualá recently launched in Mexico, where, as of 2017, only 2.6% of the poorest 40% had a credit card. This is more than an economic issue — it’s a societal issue, as financial inclusion bolsters the middle class and forms a solid base for democracy.

Interest(ed)

Chase savings accounts are offering, no joke, 0.01% interest. Wells Fargo? The same, though if you keep your investment portfolio with Wells, they’ll double that rate to 0.02%. Meanwhile, neobanks including Ally and Chime offer 0.5% — 50 times the competition.

There is also blood in the water for fintech unicorns that have created a debit, vs. credit, generation: The buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay has more than 5 million U.S. customers — just two years after launching in the country. As of February, its competitor Affirm has 4.5 million customers.

Unicorns are also coming for payments. The megasaurus in this space is PayPal, which has built the first global payments platform outside the credit card model and is second only to Visa in payment volume and revenue. Square’s Cash app is capturing share, and Apple Cash is also a player, as it’s … Apple.

Square, Apple, and a host of other companies are taking the “partnership” approach, bolting new services onto the existing transaction infrastructure. Square’s little white box is a low-upfront-cost way for a small merchant to accept credit cards. It’s particularly interesting that Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs instead of a traditional bank. Goldman is looking to get into the consumer space (see Marcus), and Apple is looking to get into the payments space — this alliance could be the unsullied fighting with air cover from dragons. It should make Wells and BofA anxious.

The Big Four credit card system operators (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) are still the dominant payment players, and they have deep moats. Their brands are global, their networks robust. Visa can handle 76,000 transactions per second in 160 currencies, and as of this week it had settled $1 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.

Still, even the king of payments sees dead people. In 2020, Visa tried to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid currently helps connect existing payments providers (i.e. banks) to finance software such as Quicken and Mint. But it plans to expand from that beachhead into offering a full-fledged payments system. Visa CEO Al Kelly initially described the deal as an “insurance policy” to neutralize a “threat to our important U.S. debit business.” In an encouraging sign that American antitrust authorities are stirring, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger, and Visa walked.

Beyond Banking

Fintech is also coming for investing with online trading apps (Robinhood, Webull, Public, and several of the neobanks) and through the crypto side door (Coinbase, Gemini, Binance). Insurance is under threat from companies like Lemonade (home), Ladder (life), and Root (auto).

In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.

Re: investing in fintech: What has, and will always be, a good rap? The guy/gal who owns the bank.

Life is so rich,

By: Scott Galloway

Source: Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t | by Scott Galloway | Jul, 2021 | Marker

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The Online Data That’s Being Deleted

For years, we were encouraged to store our data online. But it’s become increasingly clear that this won’t last forever – and now the race is on to stop our memories being deleted. How would you adjust your efforts to preserve digital data that belongs to you – emails, text messages, photos and documents – if you knew it would soon get wiped in a series of devastating electrical storms?

That’s the future catastrophe imagined by Susan Donovan, a high school teacher and science fiction writer based in New York. In her self-published story New York Hypogeographies, she describes a future in which vast amounts of data get deleted thanks to electrical disturbances in the year 2250.

In the years afterwards, archaeologists comb through ruined city apartments looking for artefacts from the past – the early 2000s.

“I was thinking about, ‘How would it change people going through an event where all of your digital stuff is just gone?’” she says.

In her story, the catastrophic data loss is not a world-ending event. But it is a hugely disruptive one. And it prompts a change in how people preserve important data. The storms bring a renaissance of printing, Donovan writes. But people are also left wondering how to store things that can’t be printed – augmented reality games, for instance.

Data has never been completely safe from obliteration. Just consider the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria – its very destruction is possibly the only reason you’ve heard about it. Digital data does not disappear in huge conflagrations, but rather with a single click or the silent, insidious degradation of storage media over time.

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Today, we’re becoming accustomed to such deletions. There are lots of examples – the MySpace profiles that famously vanished in 2019. Or the many Google services that have shut down over the years. And then there are the online data storage companies that have offered to keep people’s data safe for them. Ironically, they have sometimes ended up earmarking it for deletion.

In other cases, these services actually keep running for long periods. But users might lose their login details. Or forget, even, that they had an account in the first place. They’ll probably never find the data stored there again, like they might find a shoebox of old letters in the attic.

Donovan’s interest in the ephemerality of digital data stems from her personal experiences. She studied maths at university and has copies of her handwritten notes. “There’s a point when I started taking digital notes and I can’t find them,” she says with a laugh.

She also had an online diary that she kept in the late 1990s. It’s completely lost now. And she worked on creative projects that no longer survive intact online. When she made them, it felt like she was creating something solid. A film that could be replayed endlessly, for instance. But now her understanding of what digital data is, and how long it might last, has changed.

“It was more like I produced a play, and you got to watch it, and then you just have your memories,” she says.

Thanks to the permanence of stone tablets, ancient books and messages carved into the very walls of buildings by our ancestors, there’s a bias in our culture towards assuming that the written word is by definition enduring. We quote remarks made centuries ago often because someone wrote them down – and kept the copies safe. But in digital form, the written word is little more than a projection of light onto a screen. As soon as the light goes out, it might not come back.

That said, some online data lasts a very long time. There are several examples of websites that are 30 years old or more. And now and again data hangs around even when we don’t want it to. Hence the emergence of the “right to be forgotten”. As tech writer and BBC web product manager Simon Pitt writes in the technology and science publication OneZero, “The reality is that things you want will disappear and things you don’t will be around for forever.”

Someone who aims to redress this balance is Jason Scott. He runs Archive Team, a group dedicated to preserving data, especially from websites that get shut down.

He has presided over dozens of efforts to capture and store information in the nick of time. But often it’s not possible to save everything. When MySpace accidentally deleted an estimated 50 million songs that were once held by the social network, an anonymous academic group gave Archive Team a collection of nearly half a million tracks they had previously backed up.

“What are my children or any potential grandchildren […] going to do with the 400 pictures of my pet that are on my phone?” – Paul Royster

“There were bands for whom MySpace was their only presence,” says Scott. “This entire cultural library got wiped out.”

MySpace apologised for the data loss at the time.

“Once you delete the stuff it just disappears utterly,” says Scott, explaining the significance of proactive efforts to preserve data. He also argues that society has, to an extent, sleepwalked into this situation: “We did not expect the online world was going to be as important as it was.”

It should be clear by now that digital data is, at best, slippery. But how to curb its habit of disappearing?

Scott says he thinks there should be legal or regulatory requirements on companies that give people the option to retrieve their data, for a certain period – say, five years – after an online service is due to shut down. Within that time, anyone who wants their information could download it, or at least pay for a CD copy of it to be sent to them.

Not all of the data we accumulate each day will be worth preserving forever (Credit: Alamy)

Not all of the data we accumulate each day will be worth preserving forever (Credit: Alamy)

A small number of companies have set a good example, he adds. Scott points to Glitch, a 2D online multiplayer game that was removed from the web in 2012, just over a year after it was launched. Its liquidation, in data terms, was “basically perfect”, says Scott. Others, too, have praised the fact that the game’s developers acknowledged players’ frustrations and gave them ample opportunity to download their data from the company’s servers before they were switched off.

Some of the game’s code was even made public and multiple remakes of Glitch, developed by fans, have emerged in the years since. Should this approach be mandatory, though?

“We should have real-time rights, for example to ask for data deletion, data download, or data portability – to take the data from one source to another,” argues Teemu Ropponen at MyData.

He and his colleagues are working on systems designed to make it easier for people to transfer important data about themselves, such as their family history or CV, between services or institutions.

Ropponen argues that there are efforts within the European Union to enshrine this sort of data portability in law. But there is a long way to go.

Even if the technology and regulations were in place, that doesn’t mean that preserving data would become easy overnight. We have so much of it that it is actually quite hard to fathom.

“We should set aside one day of the year when we all go through our data – data preservation day,” – Paul Royster

Around 150 years ago, making a photograph of a family member was a luxury available only to the wealthiest in society. For decades, this more or less remained the case. Even when the technology became more broadly available, it wasn’t cheap to take lots of snaps at once. Photographs became treasured items as a result. Today, smartphone cameras mean it feels like second nature to take literally hundreds or even thousands of photographs every year.

“What are my children or any potential grandchildren […] going to do with the 400 pictures of my pet that are on my phone?” says Paul Royster at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “What’s that going to mean to them?”

Royster argues that saving all of our data won’t necessarily be very useful to our descendants. And he disagrees with Scott and Ropponen that laws are the answer. Governments and legislators are often behind the curve on technology issues and sometimes don’t understand the systems they intend to regulate, he says.

Instead, people ought to get into the habit of selecting and preserving the data that is most important to them. “We should set aside one day of the year when we all go through our data – data preservation day,” he says.

Unlike old letters, which are often rediscovered years after being forgotten, online memories are unlikely to last unless you take active steps to preserve them (Credit: Alamy)

Unlike old letters, which are often rediscovered years after being forgotten, online memories are unlikely to last unless you take active steps to preserve them (Credit: Alamy) . Scott also suggests that we should think about what we really want to keep, just in case it gets deleted. “Nobody is thinking of it as the stuff that we have to preserve at all costs, it’s just more data,” he says. “If it’s written, I would print it out.”

There is another option, though. Miia Kosonen at South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences and her colleagues have been working on solutions for storing digital data in archives and national institutions.

“We converted more than 200,000 old emails from former chief editors of Helsingin Sanomat – the largest newspaper in Finland,” she says, referring to a pilot project by Digitalia, a digital data preservation project. The converted emails were later stored in a digital archive.

The US Library of Congress famously keeps a digital archive of tweets, though it has stopped recording every single public tweet and is now preserving them “on a very selective basis” instead.

Could public institutions do some digital data curation and preservation on our behalf? If so, we could potentially submit information to them such as family history and photographs for storage and subsequent access in the future.

Kosonen says that such projects would naturally require funding, probably from the public. Institutions would also be more inclined to retain information that is considered of significant cultural or historical interest.

At the heart of this discussion lies a simple fact: it’s hard for us to know – here in the present – what we, or our descendants, will actually value in the future.

Archival or regulatory interventions could go some way to addressing the ephemerality of data. But that ephemerality is something we will probably always live with, to some extent. Digital data is just too convenient for everyday purposes and there’s little rationale for trying to store everything.

The question has become, at best, one of personal motivation. Today, we decide either to make or not make the effort to save things. Really save them. Not just on the nearest hard-drive or cloud storage device. But also to backup drives or more permanent media, with instructions for how to maintain the storage over time.

This might sound like an exceptionally dry endeavour, but it need not be. A cultural movement might be all it takes to spur us on.

Many audiophiles insist on buying vinyl in an age of music streaming. Booklovers still make the effort to acquire physical copies of their favourite author’s new work. Perhaps we need an analogue-cool movement for preservationists. People who devote themselves to making physical photo albums again. Who go out of their way to write handwritten notes or letters.

These things might just end up being far easier to keep than anything digital, which will likely always require you to trust a system you haven’t built, or a service you don’t own. As Donovan says, “If something is precious, it’s dangerous, I think, to leave it in someone else’s hands.”

By Chris Baraniuk

Source: The online data that’s being deleted – BBC Future

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