Core was originally inspired by microlending in the developing world and in anger at the payday industry in the US. And to this day, we still believe great things come from combining missionary ambition with mercenary execution. In our earliest days, we were focused on fintech for the underbanked. We have since expanded our mission to include the “ninety-nine percent” — everyday people. At our core, we believe that giving more people economic power will create valuable companies. TIO Networks (acquired by PayPal) lowered the cost for walk-in bill pay. Oportun (Nasdaq:OPRT) offers fair and responsible subprime loans. Ripple lowers…


It’s increasingly clear to me that cheaper, better financial services are perhaps only 10% of the formula to creating financial health. Better basic insurance coverage is perhaps another 15%. The overwhelming majority of the solution is tied to more income. More income to tuck away into long-term savings. More income to afford basic cost of living. More income to collectively disburse exogenous financial shocks.

For a majority of Americans, more income must substantially come from their labor. And our labor productivity, of course, has not kept pace with technology since the ’70s. To put some numbers to it, in a…


When it comes to Christmas, our daughter creates a Google Sheet with over a hundred wishes that she sends to the grandparents around Thanksgiving. Our son, on the other hand, claims disinterest in such worldly pursuits, until three or four days before the big day. Then, suddenly, he’s full of ideas, much to everybody but Santa’s chagrin. I have a wishlist, too, but it’s for startups that we can invest in that will make us money by virtue of making life better for millions of everyday people. Because Amazon hasn’t figured out how to ship startups overnight (despite AWS’s big…


Is Affirm ground zero of financial health? After all, they take pains to align with the interests of their merchants and their customers. Better yet, their largest merchant is Peloton, the scion of modern physical health. They make no revenue on late fees, they charge no interest and they’re rewarded with a 78 NPS from their fit and stress-free customers. In the coastal bubbles of professional alpha men and women (plus the 20% edge cases that Affirm’s algorithms approve and others reject), this does appear a virtuous alchemy.

Outside Affirm’s wondrous mashup of physical and financial health, how is the…


By Arjan Schütte and Matthew Shackelford

We’re in the fourth wave of fintech (the first was in the 70s with the arrival of that now-germ-invested relic, the ATM), nearing its end. What’s the score, you ask? The secular march of fintech progress has offered great strides in convenience, decent expanded access and nominal cost savings to the consumer.

Here’s our attempt at a scorecard for fintech’s efficacy. Our framework is that the purpose of fintech is to create efficiencies: efficiencies of convenience, access and cost. For simplicity, we divide fintech into simple, typically short-term products and services (a payment, a…


By Arjan Schütte and David Roos

We believe the American playbook for wealth creation — go to college, work hard, buy a home — is dead. It doesn’t work anymore for the majority of Americans. Labor costs and productivity grew in lockstep from 1940 to 1979. Since then, income for a typical worker has increased 12% while productivity has increased 70%. As a result, the majority of wealth has been created from capital gains, making it almost impossible to create material wealth as a function of working hard. …


By Arjan Schütte and Matthew Shackelford

For years, I’ve been going around saying it’s expensive to be poor. It’s the kind of quip that receives a knowing nod recognizing a dark irony. When I founded Core, I had a slide in an early, unsightly deck that said the underbanked spend approximately 17% of their income on basic stuff you and I get for free.

During the past several years, it has dawned on me that it’s not just expensive to be poor; it’s expensive to be an American. Matthew Shackelford, our fabulous summer associate, dug into the data: A majority…


by Kathleen Utecht

Eric and Charlie A special pair Exceptionally talented Who truly care Tracking for years Impressed by their execution Improving outcomes for high power curved industry employees A very creative solution Minimize risk Share the return Starting with professional baseball players Who can easily get burned An injury, bad streak You never know Though while you may be out One of your fellow poolers may grow So instead of one lottery ticket You can have many And if you are the winner You still are left with plenty Now, to MBAs Let’s share in the upside And if…


As unemployment benefits are expiring, and many who were furloughed are likely to be laid off, there’s renewed focus on the importance of jobs and those who offer them. Last year, Mary Daly, the president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, asked me if I thought the future of community banks might be Walmart. Seemed like a crazy idea at first, but perhaps not. It’s not literally Walmart, but employers. Will employers become the community banks of tomorrow? I’ll make the case for how we started with employer as lender, followed by employer as financial advisor, and how we’re…


In the midst of the social reckoning of the racist roots of our nation, and our inability to achieve the kind of equality that millions before and after Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of, it should be clearer than ever that externalities matter. Economists refer to externalities as the side effects of an activity that are not reflected in the cost. In nature, bees create positive externalities by pollinating surrounding crops while collecting nectar. …

Arjan Schutte

I'm founding partner at Core Innovation Capital. We're early stage investors in financial empowerment for everyday Americans. My personal opinions.

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