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Top 10 Fintech News Stories for the Week Ending July 25, 2020




Here are what I consider to be the top 10 most important fintech news stories of the past week.

Affirm, Shopify partner for new interest-free, zero-fee online shopping option from CNBC – This is a really big deal. Affirm will be powering Shopify’s buy now pay later product. I would argue this could be bigger than Affirm’s Walmart deal as Shopify has over one million merchants and is growing rapidly.

Kabbage Launches Checking Accounts for Small Business from Lend Academy – The new Kabbage Checking account pays 1.1% interest and has probably the richest feature set of any small business checking account today.

FDIC floats certification program for fintechs working with banks from American Banker – The FDIC has proposed a potential set of standards and a certification program intended to make it easier for financial institutions to partner with technology firms.

Inside Goldman’s product roadmap for digital bank Marcus from Tearsheet – Goldman Sachs is working on becoming a full service digital bank but is looking for inspiration from the big tech companies rather than big banks as it considers where to take its brand.

The OCC Issues Proposed True Lender Rule that Should Clarify Online Lenders and Bank Relationships from Crowdfund Insider – The OCC officially proposed a new rule that would resolve uncertainty over the issue of true lender once and for all. The proposed rule basically says a bank is the “true lender” if, as of the date of origination, it is named as the lender in the loan agreement or if it funds the loan.

The Online Bank Insurgency Of 2020 from Forbes – Some great stats here on digital banking penetration from Ron Shevlin from a new study: 14.2 million Americans—6% of US adults with a checking account—now consider a digital bank to be their primary bank.

Mark Cuban-backed finance app Dave says its new mobile bank account is headed for 1 million users from CNBC – Dave began slowly rolling out their new bank account in May to a waiting list of two million people and they are getting a 50% uptake.

New York Passes Small Business Lending Disclosure Bill from Bloomberg Law – New York has passed a bill that will require lenders to disclose terms such as an estimated annual percentage rate, the total repayment amount, and other fees or costs of financing extended to small businesses.

The CFO of Visa maps out 2 areas it’s investing in beyond cards to keep up with fintechs that are transforming the payments game from Business Insider – Visa has started to look beyond their core offering for additional revenue opportunities as the payments market heats up.

Jack Ma’s Ant Group Plans Dual IPOs in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bypassing New York from The Wall Street Journal – Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial and the maker of Alipay, is going to IPO in both Shanghai and Hong Kong.



DonorsChoose + MahoganyBooks: A New Source for Your Library




Looking to expand your library this school year? DonorsChoose is excited to welcome MahoganyBooks as our newest vendor!

MahoganyBooks is a family-owned, independent bookstore that believes in the power of reading and social entrepreneurship. Founded in 2007 as an online-only bookstore, MahoganyBooks is now an award-winning retailer specializing in books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora. With a physical location in Washington D.C., MahoganyBooks now also offers engaging literary events in an empowering environment celebrating African American culture in addition to its lauded book selection.

“Educators are the backbone of any thriving community and we’re thrilled to partner with DonorsChoose to ensure books with rich cultural content are accessible to teachers nationwide,” said Ramunda Young, co-owner and co-founder of MahoganyBooks. “These works are imperative for any student expanding their worldview and perception of other cultures. We’re excited to be part of this amazing vendor family.”

“We’re so proud to be able to offer our teachers the opportunity to request valuable classroom materials from MahoganyBooks, while at the same time supporting a Black-owned independent bookstore that gives back to the Washington, D.C. community,” said Geoff Hill, chief financial officer and EVP of fulfillment at DonorsChoose. “Our procurement partners at EqualLevel introduced us to Ramunda and Derrick Young and helped us launch MahoganyBooks as a vendor in record time this summer. We can’t wait to see all of the teachers and students who will benefit during this back-to-school season.”

Right now, teachers can choose from a select list of books ideal for middle and high school students via the MahoganyBooks option on DonorsChoose. We’ll continue to add more titles — including options for elementary students — later this fall. 

Starting August 6, the Equal Justice Initiative is matching donations to projects requesting Just Mercy and a select list of other books from MahoganyBooks. Donors can also give to projects requesting books from MahoganyBooks featured on this special giving page.



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Building an Email List: How to Ensure Crowdfunding Success




You’re getting ready to launch a crowdfunding campaign. You’ve got your prototype and you’re getting ready to set up your Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign page. But have you taken time to build your email list? For Indiegogo and Kickstarter creators, an email list isn’t just something that’s “nice to have” — it’s the foundation of your campaign. If you don’t have a strong email list, you’re going to have a hard time reaching your goal. To give your project the best chance of success, building an email list of people who have shown interest in your project or projects like yours is essential. Here’s why:

1. Email list size can be an indicator of crowdfunding success

Email conversion rates — that is, the number of people on an email list who end up pledging to a campaign — vary. However, crowdfunding experts generally say that you can expect around 5% of the people on a high-quality email list to become backers. A high-quality list is one in which subscribers knew what they were signing up for when they submitted their addresses and where addresses were collected through legitimate means. Legitimate list-building tactics include collecting email addresses through in-person events, online forum communities, and social media. 

When you plan for your Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign knowing that 5% of the people on a legitimate email list will convert, you can get a good estimate of a couple of things:

  1. What would be a reasonable funding goal for your project
  2. How many email addresses you’ll need to collect to hit that goal
  3. What the average price of your rewards should be

Doing the math

If you’re eyeing a $10,000 funding goal, and you have an average pledge of $50, you’ll need to get 200 backers to hit that goal. With the 5% conversion rate, you should have at least 2,000 people on your email list. So what if you were getting ready to launch, and you didn’t have that many people on your list? Does that mean you’re going to fail? 

Well, not necessarily. It’s important to note that the number of people on your list is just one of the factors that contributes to your campaign’s success. Campaigns fail and succeed for a number of reasons, including not clearly communicating what the product is, not properly structuring reward tiers, and not effectively marketing the campaign once it’s live. 

However, when you collect a specific number of email addresses that lines up with your funding goal, it puts you on the right track. So if you don’t have the list that you need, it would probably be best to postpone your campaign until you do.

Adjusting your funding goal

The creators of Shapes — a metal cable holder that keeps your workspace organized — first launched their project on Kickstarter in 2016. They set a $3,000 funding goal. But when it didn’t look like they were going to hit their goal, they decided to cancel their project and re-launch.

kickstarter email

The second time around, they set a goal of $1,000 which was based on the number of people they had in their audience. Interestingly, their new campaign actually ended up surpassing their goal, raising more than $5,000. 

Like Shapes, War of Ashird, an RPG video game, had struggled when they  initially launched the project on Kickstarter. The creators didn’t have a strong audience coming into the project and were only able to raise around $51,000 of their $82,000 goal, before they cancelled the project. They took some time to revise their outreach strategy, lowered their funding goal to $31,500, and relaunched the project

war of ashird relaunch

Not only did they hit their new goal, but they were also funded in just 12 hours. When their campaign ended, they’d raised $201,199. 

crowdfunding tipQuick tip: Ideally, an Indiegogo and Kickstarter creators would have a decent email list before they launch. But if you’re already in the middle of your campaign, and realize that you don’t have the support that you need to get funded this time around, there’s no shame in relaunching. Actually, a failed project can be an excellent learning experience for a first-time creator. Look at it as an opportunity to build a stronger community.

2. You can’t count on people discovering your project organically

One misconception that a lot of first-time creators have is that they can just launch a project and potential backers will magically land on their campaign page. But the likelihood of people seeing your project without you doing any kind of promotion or community building is slim. Search Kickstarter right now, and you’ll likely see that there are more than 3,000 live projects. That means that there are more than 3,000 projects that people would have to search through to find you.

Build momentum in the first 48 hours of your Kickstarter campaign with a strong email list

The chances of being discovered organically on the platform are dependent upon an algorithm that factors in how well your project is performing. So your project will rank higher on Kickstarter — and therefore be seen by more people — when you approach your launch date with a community of people ready to pledge within the first 48 hours of your campaign. 

These first two days are critical, and set the momentum for your campaign. But with a strong email list of people who are enthusiastic about your project, you can secure those important, early pledges. In the days leading up to launch day, you should be sending emails to your subscribers to get them excited about your project and ready to pledge right away. You should also make sure to explain how crowdfunding works for those members of your audience who’ve never pledged before. It’s important to create an email strategy and send out messages at strategic times before and during your campaign.

crowdfunding tipQuick tip: Once you have a list, test its strength with BackerKit Launch. Using Launch, you’ll be able to see which of your email contacts have pledged to crowdfunding projects before, and are therefore more likely to back your project. After you’ve launched, visit BackerTracker to see if you’re trending to hit your funding goal. If it doesn’t look like you’ll hit your goal, you may want to consider cancelling your campaign, and relaunching later. 

But what about Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love”?

Kickstarter’s staff give projects that they’re enthusiastic about a “Project We Love” badge. If you are fortunate enough to be featured in this way, your project will get more visibility. But becoming a “Project We Love” isn’t easy.

kickstarter email

There are certain technical things you can do to make your campaign more attractive to their team, such as having a compelling project image and adding photos of the rewards you’re offering to your campaign page. But, as Kickstarter explains on their website, the team is looking for exceptional projects.

According to Kickstarter, exceptional projects are “ideas that go the extra mile in their uniqueness and ambition — for example, projects that involve entirely new approaches to creating, amplify underrepresented voices, or bring creative communities together in unexpected ways.” And while your Kickstarter project may fit that description to a T, it just makes more sense to work on the things that you can control, like building your email list and growing your community, rather than banking on getting featured.

crowdfunding tipQuick tip: Make sure to collect email addresses from people who are likely to pledge and even become advocates for your project. Tap into existing audiences. Who are the people you can count on to pledge early and have shown interest in the work that you do? Family, friends, co-workers, and social media followers should be the first place you look.

3. Validate your idea

kickstarter backers

Did you know that only 37% of Kickstarter projects are successful? It’s a shocking statistic, but it’s important to let that sink in before you launch a project. This is what you’re up against. 

You may have what it takes to succeed. But with 63% of projects failing, wouldn’t it be nice to find out what people think about your idea as soon as possible? Before you even have a prototype you can — and should — validate your Kickstarter concept by building your email list.

Are people interested in what you’re offering?

The idea behind this is simple: if you’re planning an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign, and having a hard time getting email sign-ups after sharing your concept with your target audience, you might not be ready to launch. Alternatively, if people like the idea behind your Indiegogo or Kickstarter project, and are excited about it, they’ll be happy to sign up for your email list. In this way, you can gauge interest in your project and start validating your idea. 

Of course, email sign-ups aren’t the only indicator of whether or not you have an idea worth pursuing. You should also be researching what competitors are doing, if any similar ideas already exist, and your target audience’s needs. But you must take a long, critical look at your concept if you’re really struggling to collect email addresses.

Get feedback from your subscribers

One added benefit of building your email list right away — even if that list is very small, at first — is that you can get feedback on your project from your subscribers. Send out surveys or updates on how the development process is going, and find out what your audience thinks. In doing this, you’ll get valuable insights about what they’re looking for or areas of your project that you might need to refine or rethink. 

What’s more, this type of communication is an excellent way to get your growing audience invested in your campaign and your success. If they were able to offer their opinions as you developed your project, they’re going to be excited to see and back the final product.

crowdfunding tipQuick tip: Collect email addresses with a project landing page, using a service like Instapage or Lead Pages. The page should describe your project and have a call to action requesting visitors submit their email addresses to get updates. Direct visitors to the page through platforms where your prospects live, like social media, YouTube, or online forums. Consider cross-promotion, in which a partner shares your landing page with their audience.

4. An email list is the foundation of your marketing strategy

kickstarter email

Are you thinking about using Facebook ads to get more backers and promote your campaign? Awesome! But you should know that ads aren’t a substitute for building your email list. If you launch your campaign, and midway through, it’s trending to fail, ads will not save your project

If you’re interested in a performance marketing service like BackerKit Ads, there are a number of factors that will make your project a good candidate for this. BackerKit Account Executive Robert Wickham says, “for people who are planning their campaign, an email list is relatively important. Not having one — or having too small of a list — disqualifies them.” Another factor that Wickham looks at once the project is live is how well the campaign is performing day-to-day, and whether the creator is able maintain that momentum. 

There are other qualitative and quantitative factors that determine whether or not ads will be a cost-effective solution for a creator (these are things that you should discuss with a representative for the performance marketing service you’re planning to use). But the bottom line is that you need the community and momentum that having a strong email list provides you with to even be a good fit for paid marketing.

crowdfunding tipQuick tip: Looking for free ways to get more backers? Before you launch, spend some time joining Facebook groups and online communities related to your project. Engage with these people and try to build genuine relationships with them. If it makes sense and isn’t against the community rules, let them know about the project you’re working on. The new friends might be want to sign up for your email list and support your campaign. 


  • Creators who don’t have a strong email list pre-launch struggle to get pledges. 
  • Around 5% of the subscribers on a high quality email list will back your campaign. Make sure that you have enough people on your list to hit your funding goal.
  • It’s important to get pledges within the first 48 hours of your launch. Sending messages to subscribers on your list pre-launch can help you secure those essential, early pledges.
  • You can’t expect people to stumble across your project on Kickstarter or Indiegogo — you have to take the time to grow your audience before you launch.
  • If you can get subscribers, it might be a sign that you need to rethink your project. 
  • Ads aren’t a substitute for community-building. 

As we mentioned earlier, only 37% of Kickstarter projects are successful. But you shouldn’t let that number discourage you. Instead, let it motivate you to start building your email list today and begin taking steps to ensure your project hits its goal. To learn more about the best ways to prepare for your launch, read our guide — 10 Things You Must Do Before guide


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CROWDFUNDING FAVORITES! Featuring: Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape, Breeze Face Mask, Coalatree Compass Backpack & Many More!




#1 Staff Favorite

CMON’s back with Massive Darkness 2: Hellscape! It takes the exciting dungeon-crawling action of the original Massive Darkness and brings it to a whole new level. Take on the role of Lightbringers, a group of Heroes fighting the forces of Darkness in this thrilling cooperative game for 1-6 players. Inspired by classic RPG games, this board game needs no game master to take you to the depths of Hell and beyond, fighting a variety of mobs and epic enemies to save the world!

Pledge NOW to fight the source of evil!

Breeze Cooling Face Mask

Breeze is an easy-breathing anti-pollution mask that filters dust, pathogens, and allergens from the air you breathe. It is equipped with inherently antimicrobial silver galvanic filters, face cooling technology, exhaled air filtration, and “clear sound” valves for phone calls. It’s comfortable, reusable, washable, and long-lasting.

The Compass Backpack | Just Launched!

The Compass Backpack is designed with durability, functionality, and sustainability in mind. Made from a specialty blend of durable, slash-proof, water-repellent fabric, the Compass Pack keeps your valuables safe in any situation.

SEADON – Soft & Eco-Friendly Activewear

FINAL HOURS! These Daily Tees are their softest and most comfortable tees yet, all guaranteed to give you smiles per miles. Made for everyday people, whether you’re working out at home, hitting the trail, or keeping it spontaneous around the city, there’s a perfect fit for you.

M1 Caliber | Final Hours!

The M1 Caliber measuring device eliminates the need to measure and mark materials, significantly lowering your time to make cuts from your list, increasing safety by keeping everything measurement-related in a centralized location, and is hassle-free allowing you to measure even without your tape measure and marking pencil handy.

HomeBase & Solar Boombox Ecosystem

It’s a shelf with wireless charging and built-in amplifier for the new Solar Boombox and Powerbank, all constructed from upcycled ocean plastic materials. This is the ultimate in green technology.

Deeper Connect VPN

Deeper Connect a is plug-and-play VPN with zero-configuration. The installation process is so simple anyone can do it in seconds. In place of an ethernet cable, users only need to plug in two ends of network cables into Deeper Connect to have access to a free, secure, and private Internet. No settings or configurations of any kind are needed.

Urban Belt: by Xpand Inc.

This belt has an interchangeable elastic belt with a fast-adjusting magnetic buckle. The belt strap is made from a zero-memory elastic, meaning it won’t sag or lose its tension with wear. The tension and fit will last no matter what the day brings. Plus, you’ll hardly notice the lightweight fabric, so you can focus on what matters most.

Skadu Power Scrubber

Meet Skadu, the new hand-held power scrubber that effortlessly cleans even the most stuck up grime on any surface in your home. The lightweight ergonomic design lets you catch a comfortable hold, while the three rotating power scrubbers make scrubbing fast and fun!

The Jigsaw Puzzle Coffee Table

Jigsaw Puzzle Coffee Table from Unnecessary Inventions is the first and only coffee table that can’t actually be used until you solve the jigsaw puzzle surface. Have fun building a table for once and have an interesting conversation piece.

The Piss Pad

The Piss Pad is a highly dense, diffusing target that attaches to the back of your toilet bowl to diffuse urine splashback. Its robust and functional design is the first in-home urine splashback tool of its kind.

CassCaps | Just Launched!

These patented caps eliminate the need for measuring spoons, so you can measure straight from the bottle. CassCaps are compatible with many existing spice jars, and they’re FDA compliant, made with BPA free materials.

Smarter Compression Packing Cubes

Easily access and organize your clothes and gear, thanks to mesh side panels and full-length side zip. Whether you’re packing for a big trip or setting off on an everyday adventure, now you can carry what you need and grab it when you want it.

Orbitkey Desk Mat

A clever solution to organize and optimize your workspace, helping you stay productive and do your best work every day. Underneath the top layer is a convenient document hideaway for you to store loose papers and notes so they don’t pile up around you.

BusyBox – Smart Sign For Interruption-Free Work

Work uninterrupted and boost your productivity with the BusyBox™ wireless status sign. Choose the best message to let everyone in your house know to not bother you. With just a click on the app, immediately create an interruption-free zone for as long as you need.

OpenCV AI Kit

To celebrate OpenCV’s 20th anniversary, here comes the OpenCV AI Kit (OAK), an MIT-licensed open-source software and Myriad X-based hardware solution for computer vision at any scale. OAK consists of the OAK API software and two different types of hardware: OAK-1 and OAK-D.

iiRcade: Immersive Arcade Gaming

What if you could play all the games you love on a device that takes you back in time. A device modernized for the new age gamer, a sleek futuristic look. iiRcade is a gaming machine that brings the most intense arcade experiences directly into your home, complete with an ever-expanding library of retro arcade classics and modern blockbusters. Just press START.


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