Mobile banking is nothing new. Just about every bank in the world has some kind of mobile presence that can be accessed in a variety of places. Most banks are starting to allow camera phone pics of checks for deposits, even PayPal allows you to add to your account using your phone’s camera.
New Jersey Startup Refundo has started with the mobile bank. “Refundo gives millions of Americans (68MM in the US alone) the opportunity to transition into the financial mainstream, by allowing them to open a bank account right from their mobile phone in 30 seconds or less. Their mobile bank account comes with a MasterCard debit card and mobile app which will provide them with their bank balance, transaction history, access to tens of thousands of ATM and deposit locations in the US, and more” CEO Roger Chinchilla told nibletz.com in an interview.
The underbanked and unbanked tend to be low-moderate income individuals who don’t have access to or can’t afford a traditional bank. With Refundo, if you have a phone, you have a bank.
We got a chance to talk more in-depth with Chinchilla, check out the interview below:
What is Refundo?
Refundo is a provider of high-quality and affordable financial products and services that are unmatched in this industry, tailored to meet the unique needs of the underserved communities.
Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
Roger Chinchilla CEO- Roger currently resides in New Jersey with his wife and 2 kids and is an avid open source developer. After brief stints at Queens College where he studied accounting and NYU where he studied computer science, he founded a tax preparation office in Elizabeth NJ. A year later (2005) he hired his good friend from high school that had recently graduated from college and wanted to put his knowledge to use.
Grimaldy Dominguez CFO- Grimaldy currently resides in New York City and currently controls the finances at Refundo. He graduated from Paul Smith College in NY with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. Together with Roger, they built a tax practice that currently serves over a thousand clients annually with offices both in NY and NJ and clientele across the US. He currently oversees 150 professional tax preparation offices nationwide.
Bryan Amason SVP SALES & MARKETING- Bryan Received his BS Degree in CMP at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa OK. Bryan began his software career working for a privately held tax and accounting software company that was later acquired by Intuit. He worked in the tax software industry for 15+ years and has a lot of experience on how traditional tax software companies operate. He has always been ranked as a top sales executive earning ranks such as National Account Manager / Premier Accounts at Intuit. He managed a national/premier sales team of 5 while at Intuit, which managed millions of dollars in software sales.
Jeremiah Nivar COO- Jeremiah holds a BA degree in Accounting with a minor in Business Administration. He brings over 20 years of legal accounting and banking experience to Refundo. At the NYC Bar Association he was a staff accountant and handled the day-to-day activities of the association. He then became a member of an AM LAW 100 international firm for 12 years. He began as a portfolio accountant, transitioned to the role of escrow manager / banking liaison and finished his career as assistant to the treasurer.
Where are you based?
Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States
What’s the startup scene/culture like where you’re based?
Being headquartered so close to NYC is advantage for us, as the city has a thriving startup scene and is now firmly established as the number two innovation hub behind Silicon Valley. New York City is big on several industries including tech, finance, and media, which give us the opportunity to draw on a wide-range of resources.
How did you come up with the idea for Refundo?
My co-founder, Grimaldy Dominguez, and I grew up in Queens, New York watching workers pay enormous fees to simply cash paychecks at check cashing locations. In 2009, two years after launching the accounting software company Rushtax, we realized an opportunity to help this underserved community. Many of the customers who turned to us for tax preparation did not have a bank account to deposit their tax refund. Seeing the dire need for a change, we decided to create a solution that would allow our clients to establish and access a bank account right from their mobile phones.
How did you come up with the name?
At the time, we were focused almost entirely on tax refund products, so it was a logical approach. I just added an “o” to Refund. It doesn’t get easier than that. The name complements our philosophy: No junk fees. The fees that we do charge, however, are market competitive, often below industry average, and always fully disclosed. We refund the junk fees that traditional banks like to charge. That’s Refundo.
What problem does Refundo solve?
Due to the recent financial system crisis, financial institutions began targeting those who maintained low account balances by introducing some new, and not very transparent, fees; resulting in an increasing amount of people with no access to traditional and the most basic bank products. Refundo aims to tackle these social problems head on with an incredible mobile banking experience minus the unnecessary (junk) fees that are usually associated with this type of product. Mainly founded on the principle that the underserved community deserves an easy to use and fresh alternative to banking, as they know it.
What’s your secret sauce?
I would say our secret sauce is being committed to our broader social mission of achieving long-term, meaningful change for marginalized communities and utilizing technology to make this change. With the right team -working towards the same common goal- and technologies, all kinds of obstacles can be overcome.
Are you bootstrapped or funded?
What are some milestones you’ve achieved?
Refundo now employs a team of 25 with experience from all across the financial services industry and over 500 tax professionals nationwide now offer to process returns through our program.
What’s your next milestone?
Our next milestone is to launch our mobile banking application to the general audience, people who are actively seeking a banking product that fits their need. We are currently in QA testing and expect to launch beta in March 2013.
Who are some of your mentors and business role models?
I don’t really have business role models or mentors. I just try to emulate chess grand masters.
What’s next for Refundo?
Ingenuity is what started Refundo in the first place, so the revolution does not end here. Our plan is to introduce our great product to the rest of the World. We are actively seeking partnerships in Latin America and Canada with established businesses, where the percentage of underserved customers is significant and keeps rapidly increasing every day. Three of our Four founders are 1st generation immigrants who understand the underserved community in LATAM better than anyone else. Equipped with groundbreaking technology, awesome products, and a clear understanding of the market, our team is the best for this particular mission.
Where can people find out more?
Have you seen these startup interviews at nibletz.com?