Banking

Challenger bank for college students adds job-search, advisory tools

A challenger bank for college students is adding features to its app to help users find jobs, fill cash flow gaps and get personalized help. 

Mos, which is based in San Francisco, announced on Thursday its launch of Mos Gigs, which helps students find odd jobs that fit around an inconsistent class schedule, such as baby-sitting, dog-walking and tutoring. It also released Mos Cash Advance, which advances users in good standing $25 without a credit check and gives them 14 days to repay it; and Mos Advisor, a service that connects students to financial aid advisers to discuss reducing the costs of college. Users already get a fee-free checking account and debit card.

The company is founded by Amira Yahyaoui, a human rights activist from Tunisia. The name “Mos” is inspired by the fictional town of Mos Espa, a port city on the fictional planet of Tatooine, which is inspired by Yahyaoui’s real-life hometown of Tatouine. 

College students and graduates are a ripe market that only a few traditional financial institutions are reaching beyond dedicated deposit accounts.

“So many young people face intimidating financial barriers,” said Amira Yahyaoui, founder and CEO of Mos in a press release. “We hear from students all the time that they don’t know where to begin.”

Mos raised $13 million in Series A funding in May 2020, from investors that included Sequoia Capital, National Basketball Association player Stephen Curry and Zoom founder Eric Yuan. Back then, it focused on helping students check their eligibility for different forms of financial aid and apply for scholarships. It expanded to become a challenger bank in 2021 and raised a $40 million Series B in February 2022. The challenger bank makes money through interchange fees. Banking services are provided by Blue Ridge Bankshares, which is based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and has $2.8 billion of assets. 

Although it’s common for traditional financial institutions to offer checking and savings accounts for students, a few have made bigger moves to help young customers obtain financial aid, pay off debt or manage money after college. This often involves the help of fintechs.

For example, JPMorgan Chase acquired Frank in September 2021, a college planning website that features a guided Free Application for Federal Student Aid application process, curated scholarships and discounted online courses for credit. KeyCorp in Cleveland acquired GradFin in May 2022, an online advisory company that helps borrowers understand their repayment, refinancing and forgiveness options. It’s one of several fintechs that work with financial institutions to help graduates navigate complex student loan repayment and forgiveness policies that have in some cases become more generous during the pandemic. Michigan State University Federal Credit Union in East Lansing, Michigan, is working on a digital-only credit union for college alumni that will provide members with high-yield deposit products and loan options and access to embedded fintech partners that promote financial wellness.

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