SmarterBucks launched in the spring of 2012, providing members, along with their family and friends a variety of ways to earn value and apply it towards paying down student loan debt. Thousands of people have signed up for the program, where they can participate by shopping at hundreds of stores in the SmarterBucks.com Marketplace, completing online surveys, and by earning rewards with a debit card.
"Over the past few years SmarterBucks has processed thousands of payments on behalf of members to the various student loan service providers. This capability is an important component in our overall plan to help graduates accelerate the pay down of their student loan debt," said Tim DeMello, founder and CEO of Gradifi. "By acquiring the assets of SmarterBucks we are able to accelerate the development of our platform to manage our signature SLP Plan™ programs for employers."
The SmarterBucks program complements Gradifi's Employer SLP Plans™ (Student Loan Paydown), announced just last month. The SLP Plan™ gives businesses the opportunity to help pay down employees' student loan debt, working toward eliminating the $1.3 trillion student loan problem. In 2016, Gradifi will launch an integrated platform that will allow its members to receive SLP plan contributions, plus earn rewards in a variety of ways through a cohesive, single-member experience. Gradifi will process over $10 million in Paydown Rewards™ next year and estimates over $100 million in 2017.
"Valore remains focused on helping students and families save money on the cost of education, but finding a home for SmarterBucks with a new company focused 100 percent on student loan pay down made the most sense for SmarterBucks members," said Kevin Walker, CEO of Valore. "After being introduced to the unique model developed by Gradifi – particularly its success in creating the first employer programs – we recognized the opportunity for SmarterBucks to realize its full potential as a part of this great company."
Gradifi Expands Leadership Team
Gradifi has expanded its management team to include Doug Lowenstein as Chief Operating Officer. Lowenstein was formerly the EVP of Banking and Rewards at Valore, (formerly SimpleTuition), where he helped found, build, and lead the SmarterBucks line of business. Prior to this, Doug spent more than 11 years as a senior executive at Capital One where he led the strategy development of a number of initiatives designed to diversify the company outside its core credit card business. Doug is a graduate of Brown University, and earned his MBA at Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management. "Doug's firsthand experience is crucial to our success. He is uniquely qualified to help us change the conversation around student loan debt – from problem to solution," said DeMello.
Founded in 2014, Gradifi is a Boston-based start-up providing an innovative solution to the nation's $1.3 trillion student loan debt problem. By partnering with companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers to develop employer SLP Plans™ (Student Loan Paydown), rewards programs and brand loyalty programs, Gradifi is shifting the focus on student loan debt – from burden to empowerment. To learn more about Gradifi, visit www.gradifi.com or twitter.com/@gradifi.