How Chime Became America's Biggest Digital Bank

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For decades, it’s been a riddle in banking: how do you build a sustainable and profitable business serving low and middle-income consumers? Sixteen years ago, Chris Britt, then chief product officer at Green Dot, believed he’d discovered the answer—direct deposit of paychecks.

Green Dot was selling prepaid debit cards to cash-strapped Americans without traditional bank accounts, and Britt saw that customers who had their paychecks automatically deposited into their Green Dot accounts used the card to pay virtually all their expenses. With each debit card swipe, Green Dot pocketed part of the interchange fees–the 1% to 2% charge merchants pay to accept debit and credit cards.

“The people on direct deposit were clearly the whales of the business,” says Britt, 51, the cofounder and CEO of Chime, the nation’s largest digital-only bank with $1.5 billion in annualized revenue and seven million customers using its cards for $8 billion a month in transactions.

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