Banking

Mobile tech company to introduce a savings app for gender transitions

Euphoria.LGBT, a mobile app development company that has received funding from Chelsea Clinton, is adding a savings app called Bliss to its lineup this fall.

The goal of Bliss is to help transgender individuals save for their transition costs, which Euphoria.LGBT CEO and founder Robbi Katherine Anthony says average $150,000 in the U.S. and encompass medical, legal and social expenses, such as buying new clothes.

“Bliss’s big differentiator is it understands the complexity that is gender transition and helps assign a financial plan to that,” Anthony said. Unlike a regular savings account, Bliss will help its users come up with a budget for this endeavor and visualize how close they are to their transition-related goals.

Bliss partnered with Jiko, in Berkeley, California, to provide banking services. Jiko bought a Minnesota bank last fall and thus has its own banking charter.

After customers onboard, they will see a menu of medical, social and legal goals relating to transition and estimated costs, with or without insurance. As they save, Bliss will track their progress toward meeting targets, such as paying for a new passport.

The app will sweep deposits into an account at Jiko Securities and invest the money in Treasury bills, which have low volatility. Anthony says that feature is key for an expense as important as a transition.

When Bliss launches, Anthony hopes that customers will be able to make both one-time and recurring contributions. A debit card is also in the works. It will be printed with the customer’s preferred name and provide interchange revenue for the company.

“Finance has had a hostile relationship with my community,” said Anthony. “A lot of that stems from the fact that my community has incongruent identification documents, so sometimes a driver’s license will accurately reflect my identity but doesn’t align with my birth certificate.”

She noted that she is starting to see movement among financial institutions, but it is still a patchwork system.

Bliss will rely on the customer’s legal name for know-your-customer checks, but address them by their chosen name in the app. LGBT challenger bank Daylight operates similarly. Mastercard recently announced that it will white-label its True Name program, which allows transgender and nonbinary customers to use their preferred name on payment cards. BMO Harris Bank, Citigroup and Republic Bank all offer the card company’s True Name service.

The app fits into Euphoria.LGBT’s larger goal of getting individuals through their transition more quickly. Three other apps have been released so far, including one that provides resources to people about the process of transition and another that serves as a marketplace for artists. Bliss and a fifth app are expected to launch later this year, with a sixth coming in 2022.

Austin, Texas-based Euphoria.LGBT does not disclose how many users it has, but says that one in 50 transgender individuals in the U.S. use its technology.



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