Community First Finance

Community First Finance

3 minute read

Earnin started in 2013 with a mission to build a financial system that works for all people. We’re guided by a commitment to put people first, a model that allows people to pay what they choose, and a community that supports each other. 

The last five years have been an incredible experience for all of us at Earnin. We’ve hired an amazing team that built technology and created a service to allow people to access their earned wages while gaining the trust of our growing community. We have expanded the same approach to new products like Health Aid and Cash Back Rewards that continue to change how people pay for their healthcare or earn extra cash on regular, everyday purchases without the use of credit cards.

I’m deeply humbled by the success we’ve shared across the company and community. With growth comes a responsibility to make sure we share with the broader public how we operate. People have raised questions about our business model and that is to be expected — a pay what you choose model, where people can help each other, is a radical change from the way the American financial system functions.   

Whether you just heard about us from a friend or have been an avid community member since day one, we want to ensure everyone understands who we are and how our model works. 

Community supported business model
We're a company that is built on community support. We have detailed how this works here. We don't charge fees or interest because we know that sometimes people can't afford or choose not to pay, and that shouldn't exclude them from having access to money they’ve already earned. Despite having the choice not to tip and continue using the service, many community members elect to do so. We want our community members to feel the impact those tips are having — after all, every time someone chooses to pay, they are contributing to keeping the service up and running for the entire community. When someone chooses to tip a bit extra, they are notified that their contribution will pay it forward to other community members. This sends an in-app message to others who are in the process of accessing their earned wages, letting them know that another community member has already tipped on their behalf.  I’ve been inspired by over 15 million pay it forward messages between community members who have helped one another out in this way.

Overdraft fees and protection
Overdraft fees disproportionately affect people who can least afford it. Today, avoiding overdraft fees has become one of the primary reasons people use our service. To protect our community members from overdrafts, we introduced Balance Shield Alerts earlier this year.  By turning on Balance Shield Alerts, members are informed via a push notification when their bank balance falls below an amount they can specify. If their bank balance falls below $100, they can also enable Balance Shield Cashouts, which will preemptively cash out up to $100 of their earnings thus avoiding a potential bank overdraft. 

In rare cases, our community members have experienced an unintentional overdraft. This can happen due to unforeseen circumstances like holidays that change the schedule of your payday, an issue with direct deposit from your employer, or the way different banks batch and process their transactions. Regardless of the reason, if an Earnin withdrawal attempt causes an overdraft, we refund those fees. We have built automated technology that seeks to find the cases where this happens and refund the overdraft fee, but if any issue arises we ask our community to please reach out to our customer support team by sending a message to support@earnin.com. 

Earnin services provide you access to the money that you have already earned  
Earnin is not a lender or loan service. We give people early access to their earned wages and we work to fight against the system that exists today and all of the things people don’t like about loans.  With Earnin, there are no mandatory fees, credit checks or collection agents knocking on your door.  If you like the service, you can choose to tip and put more financial resources back into the community, or continue using the service even if you don’t. Paying it forward is a big part of what we do, and this is an important distinction as it allows us to keep Earnin a service that allows people to pay what they choose.

Earnin represents a radical change in how the financial industry works by empowering people to access the money they earn and take control of their financial future — whether that’s through better management of medical bills or access to Cash Back rewards. We are proud of the company that we have built today and look forward to building more new financial products that lead to a better financial future for everyone.