Alternative Finances

Peter Thiel Backs Payday Lending Startup

With a $9 million funding round led by Valar Ventures — the investment firm perhaps most notable for the presence of Peter Thiel — Even is forging ahead with its financial services model geared toward lower incomes in the United States.

As reported by Fortune, the company has been targeting “uneven paychecks for hourly workers” in light of the fact that many of those 77 million workers have less-than-consistent schedules, with wild swings in compensation. The reality then becomes that there is not much ability to rely on steady cash flow during weeks with fewer hours. The vagaries of cash flow mean that some bills may not be handled as comfortably as they otherwise might, and this has given rise to the $100 billion payday loan industry. The Even model, said Fortune, acts as an “anti-payday loan,” with bank account info and analysis across the firm’s technology that helps even out payments so that short weeks wind up being made up by good weeks.

The customers are not charged interest on the loans but instead pay a flat weekly fee of $3. The average loan of $120 gets paid out by a little over 1.2 paychecks, the company said. The “give and take” of the money as it is lent out and repaid is automatic across the system.

Though the loans are being handled by the company, debt facilities are likely to be added at some point, Fortune noted.

Other financial backers include Khosla Ventures, BoxGroup, Allen & Company and Qualcomm Ventures, among others.

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