A Message From Earnin Regarding Unemployment
Back in March, we saw many workers get laid off from their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Concerned with the possibility of rising overdraft fees, we took it upon ourselves to help those affected by quickly launching a new feature that gave them early access to a portion of their unemployment benefits - allowing them to keep up with bills, pay rent, get groceries, etc. We also teamed up with other organizations, partnering with the city of Cupertino to distribute rental assistance to households and Harvard’s Opportunity Insights to provide rapid aggregated data analysis to help guide policymakers and non-profits on how to target assistance to Americans most affected by COVID-19. At the time, we didn’t understand the extent of the virus, we simply saw people in need and wanted to assist in any way that we could.
As time went on, we realized that not many of our community members were using the unemployment feature. When we did some deeper analysis, we saw that members that had opted into the feature showed higher bank balances than usual, likely due to the stimulus check and the extra $600 in unemployment benefits added each week by the federal government.
Taking these factors into account, combined with the complexities of dealing with multiple state systems and their intricacies, we’ve made the difficult decision to sunset our unemployment feature. While we’re still allowing new sign ups for the next two weeks, we will be discontinuing the service within the next 120 days.
Even though our unemployment feature isn’t here to stay, we’re proud of the fact that we were able to work quickly in a crisis to give people access to a portion of their unemployment benefits without mandatory fees. Creating fairness in the financial system is not always easy; not everything we do will be successful. But we refuse to let our setbacks stop us from continuing to look for new ways to build a better system that works for people.
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Photo by: Matthew Waring