30 Apr, 2019, 12:00 ET
SAN FRANCISCO, April 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Cushion, the app that helps consumers in the US negotiate their bank and credit card fees, announced today that it raised $2.8 million in a Seed Round from existing investor, pre-seed fund Afore Capital, and new investors 9Yards Capital, Flourish, Green Cow Venture Capital, and Vestigo Ventures. Cushion uses an artificial intelligence (AI) bot to connect with banks on behalf of users to analyze their transaction histories, identify fees and interest charges, and negotiate their reduction or removal.
"Americans spend over $200 billion every year on bank fees and credit card interest. These penalties chip away at people's hard-earned money and can do serious damage to their finances," says Paul Kesserwani, CEO and founder of Cushion. "A consistent problem in negotiating most of these fees is the time and effort involved. It is awkward and sometimes confrontational pleading with customer service representatives via phone, chat, or email to give your money back—that's where Cushion comes in."
Since its launch in 2018, Cushion has helped consumers secure more than $1 million in bank fee refunds. Among its customers, about 93 percent usually paid bank fees in one way or another in the past 90 days, and 85 percent have gotten some or all of their bank fees waived by using Cushion's fee fighting bot. Refunds range from a few dollars to over $2,500.
"In a time when 70 percent of Americans are struggling with some aspect of their financial lives, Cushion's value proposition is more relevant than ever. It helps consumers address a real pain point now, while also creating awareness around the significance of these seemly small charges—a key learning for the future," said Emmalyn Shaw, managing partner at Flourish, a venture of The Omidyar Group, and one of the new investors in Cushion. "The business model is also clever: because the app is recovering money that consumers never expected to get back, it makes for an easy decision to pay Cushion 25 percent of their refunded amount."
Funds raised in this round will be used to hire engineers and data scientists in order to grow Cushion's customer base, scale the platform, and roll out the next suite of financial health-driven products.
How does it work
In order to take advantage of Cushion's service, consumers can sign up at www.cushion.ai using their email address. From there, they are directed to Facebook Messenger and go through a 2-3 minute onboarding process, where they securely connect their accounts. Cushion never sees consumers' account login credentials, which are encrypted using a PCI-compliant service.
Cushion then analyzes consumers' balance, payment history, and transactions looking for all types of fees, including ATM fees, overdraft fees, monthly service charges, late fees, and credit card interest charges, among others. The AI then runs a series of calculations to determine which fees should be negotiated and then engages the customer's bank via secure email or online chat—just like a human would. Most customers get their first refunds within 24 hours of signing up.
From a technology point-of-view, one of the main advantages of Cushion is its independent infrastructure—which does not use Plaid APIs to connect to customers' banks. This enables Cushion to take action by exchanging messages and conducting live chats with bank agents on behalf of users.
Cushion is a technology company creating innovative services to help consumers optimize their finances, save money, and live financially healthier lives. Since launching in 2018, Cushion's first product has onboarded tens of thousands of customers and already put over $1 million back into their wallets by negotiating their bank fees and credit card interest charges. Cushion is built by a team of security experts with many years of experience in safeguarding digital data. The company is also committed to upholding consumers' privacy—data used to power Cushion's platform is never sold nor rented to third-parties. To learn more, visit www.cushion.ai.
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