LAS VEGAS, Oct. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Zebit, Inc. today launched the first fully automated payment system that provides zero-interest credit to the 68 million Americans underserved by traditional financial services.[i] The company also announced $10 million in Series A venture capital funding. The capital raise provides Zebit working capital for receivables, operations, and the expansion of its payment and ecommerce platforms. The financing round was led by Crosslink Capital and includes Wildcat Venture Partners, Leapfrog Ventures and Correlation Ventures.
76 percent of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.[ii] Further, 47 percent can't afford a $400 unexpected purchase, according to the Federal Reserve.[iii] Zebit was created to provide a superior credit alternative to high-cost and often confusing options, such as payday loans or rent-to-own purchases, frequently used by this underserved population. Zebit's payment system provides working Americans credit at zero percent interest, without fees, penalties, or credit checks.
The credit can be used to make purchases from the Zebit Market or directly from retailers that accept Zebit as a checkout option. Within the Zebit Market, customers can finance thousands of quality, brand-name products over time, without paying interest. Currently, the Zebit Market contains products by Panasonic, Samsung, Canon, Garmin, HP, LG Electronics, KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Hoover, Coleman, and others, which are all sold at competitive retail prices, never above MSRP.
"Costly life events happen, but people shouldn't have to pay up to four times retail prices for what they need," said Michael Thiemann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Zebit. "We are proud to bring zero percent financing to those working Americans underserved by traditional credit providers. We believe that giving people access to free financial resources, along with better options for life-event purchases, will help them make healthier financial decisions."
Zebit addresses financial stress that has been shown to sap employee productivity. Approximately 15 percent of employees experience stress from poor financial decisions to the extent that it negatively impacts their productivity.[iv] By combining free financial education with access to no-cost credit and fairly priced products, Zebit offers employers a financial wellness benefit that can help alleviate employee stress and foster a stronger workforce.
As of today, Zebit's platform is available to participating employers with workforces ranging from 1,000 to over 100,000 employees; it's currently live with a $100 million electronics retailer. Zebit has commitments from employers representing 250,000 employees to offer the benefit in 2016.
"Zebit is bringing to market a first-of-its kind, fully-automated payment processing system to underserved populations who greatly need this service," said Jim Feuille, general partner at Crosslink Capital. "We are excited to support Zebit as they come to market and continue to expand their platform to new employers."
Zebit provides the credit, payment system, and a robust ecommerce marketplace that will disrupt the $25 billion high-cost, off-line installment financing industry. By combining payroll data with sophisticated risk analytics, Zebit grants credit and collects installment payments through automated deductions corresponding to each consumer's pay dates. This new technology allows the 68 million underserved Americans the benefits of Internet commerce while opening up a new market to merchants.
"Retailers want access to these new prospects who now have available credit," said Marc Schneider, co-founder and chief operating officer, Zebit. "At Zebit, we are creating the first truly automated payment platform that cost effectively links these two groups, meeting a distinct need in the marketplace."
Zebit's underlying technology was developed based on the co-founders' experience in the payments, risk, and ecommerce markets, focused on traditionally underserved populations. Prior to founding Zebit, Michael Thiemann served as chief executive officer of Global Analytics, which pioneered and beta tested Zebit's underlying technology. He has also served as chief executive officer of Investment Science, HNC Financial Solutions, and Aptex, all of which provided breakthrough big-data products for on-line loan origination, real-time fraud prevention, and Internet transaction analysis. Thiemann led the team that developed Falcon (now FICO Falcon), a payment-systems fraud solution that protects over two billion accounts worldwide.
Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Marc Schneider brings a rich background in developing financial products for the underserved population, combined with ecommerce expertise, to Zebit. He was senior vice president, operations, for Global Analytics, Inc. from 2010 to 2015. He was also chief operating officer of Zulily, a private sales e-commerce site, where he built and scaled customer service, logistics and fulfillment, studio operations, and IT to support the company's accelerated growth. Prior to Zulily, Marc was vice president, mergers and acquisition integration and customer service at Provide Commerce.
"The Zebit management team brings a unique combination of talents in financial technology, big data analytics, payment systems, and ecommerce," said Bryan Stolle, general partner at Wildcat Venture Partners and Mohr Davidow Ventures. "The Zebit team has conceived and delivered a financially-attractive product for the underserved demographic; they have accomplished an industry first."
Concurrent with their investment, Jim Feuille, general partner, Crosslink Capital; Bryan Stolle, general partner, Wildcat Venture Partners and Mohr Davidow Ventures; and Pete Sinclair, general partner, Leapfrog Ventures all join Zebit's Board of Directors.
Co-founders Michael Thiemann and Marc Schneider are speaking as part of Money 20/20's "Launchpad 360°" today at 3:48 p.m. PDT. Zebit is exhibiting at Money 20/20 at booth LPK6.
Zebit's payment system technology opens online shopping to 68 million Americans by granting no-cost credit to the underserved population. Due to cash constraints or lack of credit access, these consumers typically turn to high-cost off-line financing methods (payday loans, rent-to-own, in-store financing) with payments that can total over four times the purchase value. Zebit's platform is the first to grant real-time, no-cost, no credit-check, zero percent APR financing to the underserved, and is available to any online merchant as a primary payment method. Learn more about Zebit at www.zebit.com.
Money20/20 is the largest global event enabling payments and financial services innovation for connected commerce at the intersection of mobile, retail, marketing services, data and technology. With 10,000+ attendees, including more than 1,000 CEOs, from over 3,000 companies and 75 countries, expected at its 2015 U.S. event, Money20/20 is critical to realizing the vision of disruptive ways in which consumers and businesses manage, spend and borrow money. Money20/20 is held in Las Vegas, October 25-28, 2015, followed by Money20/20 Europe in Spring 2016.
[i] Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), 2011 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, September 2012, http://www.fdic.gov/householdsurvey/2012_unbankedreport.pdf, pp. 4-10.
[ii] Bankrate.com. 76% of Americans Don't Have Enough Emergency Savings. June 24, 2013. http://investor.bankrate.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=61502&p=irol-newsArticle&id=1832226
[iii] Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2014," http://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2014-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201505.pdf. (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)
[iv] Garman, E. Thomas, Irene E. Leech, and John E. Grable. "The Negative Impact Of Employee Poor Personal Financial Behaviors On Employers." Financial Counseling and Planning 7 (1996). http://u.osu.edu/hanna.1/files/2013/01/garman96.pdf
SOURCE Zebit, Inc.