Chime, the biggest U.S. digital bank start-up, is piloting a way for its users to receive their federal $1,200 stimulus checks instantly.
This would come weeks before the government is expected to send the payments.
Chime is a San Francisco-based company and they randomly picked 1,000 of its customers to get the payments Thursday using a feature called SpotMe. This usually allows members to go negative in their accounts without incurring fees.
The thing is, the bank is using its own capital to front the money until the government makes those payments, part of the historic $2 trillion coronavirus relief package signed into law last week.
Read also: Starling Bank launches a “Connected card” to tackle COVID
It is taking on some risk, according to CEO Chris Britt. He wants reassurance from the government that Chime users can’t redirect stimulus payments to other bank accounts, he plans on expanding it to more of the bank’s 8 million users, he said.
“We think the aggressive action taken by the government is awesome, and we applaud it, but consumers need faster access to that money to pay their bills,” Britt said in a telephone interview.
“We’re putting real dollars on the line, without interest rates or guarantees. We’d love to give it to more people. If we had greater certainty that the payments will hit our accounts, we’d do it.”
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged by 10 million in the last two weeks.
That is an unprecedented event caused mostly by shutdowns as the country attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
This will definitely cause widespread hardship, especially among people with little savings.
The idea of the program came in discussions with entrepreneur Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Britt has become friendly with Cuban after the two agreed to a sponsorship deal.