Startup spotlight: Chetwood, the low-cost challenger bank
Could you tell me a little...
As a part of our startup spotlight series, we speak with Andy Mielczarek, CEO, Chetwood Financial, a unique challenger bank.
Could you tell me a little bit about what Chetwood Financial does?
Chetwood Financial, which is backed by UK hedge fund Elliott Management, is a disruptive challenger bank which was granted a full UK banking licence in 2018 (the only retail bank to obtain a license that year). We are the first true “challenger” opting for an alternative approach – focusing on using technology to change the way products are designed as well as sold, with the aim of benefitting under-serviced customers.
By using technology, and with like-minded partners, we take the cost out of manufacturing banking products, so we can make our customers better off. We’re also developing a range of products that use personal data and active triggers to create more dynamic products.
How does Chetwood standout against other challenger banks?
Operating on a new, cloud-based technology platform, and based in Wales, Chetwood is looking to break the traditional financial services mould. We use data and advanced analytics to produce far more personalised and accurately priced products than traditional banks. With a quicker and more flexible platform, we are able to deliver dynamic products, not yet seen elsewhere in the industry, including the LiveLend Reward Loan - the first ever loan that lowers customers' interest rates as they improve their credit score.
I co-founded Chetwood after a career in big banks, where I identified flaws in the current retail banking model and felt frustrated by the lack of fairness and innovation. I partnered with Mark Jenkinson, who has 25 years of financial services technology experience under his belt, to address these market shortcomings.
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What was your last major milestone?
Towards the back end of last year we launched a dynamic loan under our sub-brand LiveLend. We’re really proud of what it offers customers, as it’s totally unique. The loan uses technology to monitor a customer’s credit score and reduce its rate at three-month intervals as the risk of the loan improves. This helps encourage customers to improve how they manage their finances.
We also have also just launched a savings product, SmartSave – which was designed with its customers to offer “a simple way to save”, through an online account that is clear about when the terms are ending.
What can our readers at FinTech Magazine expect from Chetwood in 2020?
For now, our only aspiration is to make the industry better serve consumers. We’re not obsessed with amassing customers that we can cross-sell to – we’re operating a completely different model.
We’re building an exciting range of new products that serve specific audience groups – products that are genuinely an improvement on what’s out there in the market, without using loss-leading offers that are subsidised by some customers getting a bad deal. We’re increasing our range of partners and finding new ways to use the data they can bring us.
About Andy Mielczarek
[image: Andy Mielczarek]
Andy has broad experience of driving commercial performance across entities and jurisdictions. Prior to Chetwood, he was the deputy head of HSBC’s UK Retail Bank, having previously been Commercial Director and Head of Retail Products for HSBC Europe.
Andy has also been the CFO at M&S Bank, Head of Commercial Finance at MBNA, and Brokerage Operations Director at Charles Schwab.
Andy has been an FCA approved person for many years carrying out a broad range of regulated roles.
For more information on all topics for FinTech, please take a look at the latest edition of FinTech magazine.
Upgrade launch new credit card with bitcoin rewards
Upgrade, a fintech company focused on providing credit for mainstream consumers, has launched the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card a new version of its Upgrade Card featuring bitcoin rewards. Under the new programme, users earn unlimited 1.5% bitcoin rewards on every purchase as they make payments.
The custody and trading platform for holding and selling bitcoin is provided by NYDIG and the card is a Visa Signature card, which includes benefits such as trip and baggage insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage.
The company offers credit lines from $500 to $25,000 with the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card depending on your credit score. It works with Apple Pay and Google Pay. Like other Upgrade credit cards, there are no monthly fees, late fees, or returned payment fees.
"Upgrade Card is already delivering over $3 billion in annualised credit to consumers," said Renaud Laplanche, co-founder and CEO at Upgrade. "Starting today, anyone can apply for an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card and enjoy the same affordable and responsible credit as with any Upgrade Card, plus the potential upside and fun of owning bitcoin."
Participating in the crypto economy
Upgrade isn’t the first company to announce a credit card with bitcoin rewards, but it’s the first one that is generally available. Anyone can apply with no waitlist, and start using their virtual card immediately until they get their physical card in the mail.
"Crypto rewards introduce cardholders to a new asset class that is increasingly part of a consumer's financial portfolio," said Terry Angelos, SVP and Global Head of Fintech at Visa. "Whether you're a crypto enthusiast or just getting started, programmes like the Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card offer an engaging and low-risk way to participate in the crypto economy."
At the moment, you can’t do much with your bitcoins. You can choose to hold them or sell them. There’s no way to transfer your bitcoins to another wallet for instance. If you choose to sell your rewards, there’s a 1.5% transaction fee.
This card is not currently available in all 50 states. Customers in Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia can’t order an Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card at the moment.