Step grabs $3.8 mln seed

San Mateo, California-based Step, a new financial services company for families and teens, has secured $3.8 million in seed funding. The investors were Crosslink Capital, Collaborative Fund and Sesame Ventures.


San Francisco, Calif. — January 31, 2019 — Step, the new modern-day financial services company built for families and teens, unveiled the industry’s first all-in-one banking solution that integrates certain key features and benefits of a checking, savings, credit, and debit cards into one easy-to-use account. By offering a platform for teens’ financial needs, families can work together to guide their children towards financial independence. Step is backed by Crosslink Capital, Collaborative Fund, and Sesame Ventures, and it is working with Evolve Bank and Trust to develop this first-of-its-kind offering.

Step offers a complete banking solution which includes a unique bank-issued spending card that combines many of the benefits that traditional debit and credit cards offer while adding features specifically designed for parents and teens. The Step card is linked to the Step mobile app which enables users to send and receive money instantly, shop online or in-store, as well as use Apple Pay. The Step card is integrated with a fee-free deposit account that earns 2.5% interest on your money. Step customers are not required to have a minimum balance and will not be charged any hidden or overdraft fees.

Most financial interactions between parents and teens occur via cash where allowances and other funds essentially go untracked or are easily lost. With Step, teens can request money from their parents in real-time and in return, parents can set guidelines and gain oversight into their child’s spending and saving, which is imperative in teaching teens financial responsibility. Users also have the benefit of keeping their money in one place instead of constantly moving it around or having the burden of carrying multiple cards. Step’s all-in-one banking solution gives parents control, security, and instant tools that most banking solutions do not provide, and it allows teens real-time access to their money.

Teens: An Underserved Audience
There are currently 75 million children and young adults under the age of 21 in the U.S. This underserved demographic is overwhelmingly forced to deal with cash, even though they can’t use it to shop online, pay for a ridesharing service, download music, or participate in online gaming sites. The ability to transact and have your money real time is essential as checks and cash become less relevant in today’s digital world.

“Teens expect instant services, but existing banks have failed to innovate to meet their specific needs,” said Step co-founder and CEO, CJ MacDonald. “Most banks charge fees and implement rules and restrictions that hurt teens’ financial progress. The result is a lack of financial literacy that teens carry with them into adulthood. Step aims to change this by providing teens the tools they want along with some financial training wheels that will prepare them to be financially responsible in the real world.”

The Importance of Financial Literacy
Last year, Americans paid approximately $329 per person in general account fees. An additional $34 billion was charged in overdraft fees, with college students specifically accounting for $700 million. Factoring in that the average college student graduates with $5,000 in credit card debt and $35,000 in student loan debt, young consumers are facing significant financial hardship as they enter adulthood. The primary cause is a lack of financial knowledge and tools to show how to save, spend, and budget responsibly. Step aims to remedy the problem by enabling parents to teach kids about money and the balance between spending and savings at an earlier age while still giving teens the means to do the things they want with ease and flexibility.

“The only account options that banks offer teens today are the same ones they offer everyone else, and by doing so they are essentially penalizing them for their current stage of life. Teens simply are not ready for those types of accounts; they require education and intervention, said Taylor Greene, General Partner at Collaborative Fund. “In an age where people are attached to their phones, a mobile-first money platform is crucial. Step helps teens live life on their terms while still providing parameters that prevent them from making harmful financial mistakes, all while keeping their parents involved. It’s a fantastic value proposition for the next generation.”
Your All-in-One Step Account

Step provides teens and parents with a number of unique benefits for:
● Deposits: Industry-leading interest on deposits, at a current rate of 2.5%, with round-up
savings capabilities in an FDIC-insured account up to $250,000
● ATMs: Access to a network of 35,000 ATMs nationwide with no hidden fees or ATM fees
● Spending: Controlled spending limits, help building credit and fraud protection; Step
offers Zero Liability Protection on all spending card purchases from unauthorized use
with no overdraft fees
● Mobile: Real-time budgeting tools as well as transaction and balance tracking
● Parents: Ability to set limits and guidelines as well as total visibility into spending
● Digital Cash: Send and receive money instantly on your phone; access it right away
Additionally, Step provides a high level of security and control over cards and accounts. Teens and their parents can receive real-time alerts, instantly freeze or unfreeze their card, and block international purchases or ATM usage at any time.

Strong Financial Leadership for a Strong Financial Future
Step was founded by a team with 50+ years in combined financial technology experience from companies like Gyft, First Data, Square, and Google. The company has raised $3.8M in seed funding from Crosslink Capital, Collaborative Fund, and Sesame Ventures. Crosslink general partner, Eric Chin, has joined board of directors.

“Fintech has forever changed the financial landscape over the past decade, but the teens who are the earliest tech adopters have been completely excluded from this movement. When you think about who is most likely to use Apple Pay or Google Pay, it’s teens, and you need a card to provision them,” said Mr. Chin. “Step will offer the next evolution of financial services by providing a highly personal service that works with families not only to let teens participate in the economy and enjoy the activities they want, when and how they want, but also to develop crucial life skills to be smarter with money. We look forward to working with this experienced team to bring Step to millions of families across the country so that they can build the foundation for a sound financial future.”
Starting today, parents and teens can sign up for the Step waitlist and begin earning money by inviting friends. When you invite a friend, you each get $1 in your account when your friend signs up. The company plans to roll out access to the Step platform on a first-come, first-served basis starting this Spring. To learn more and to sign up for early access, please visitm or download the Step iOS or Android app.

About Step
Step was founded by financial industry veterans CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko to provide teens and their families financial tools for today’s modern day banking needs and to promote financial literacy for the future. The Step all-in-one mobile solution provides the ultimate in financial flexibility with parental parameters in place. Step is backed by Crosslink Capital, Collaborative Fund, and Sesame Ventures. To learn more, please visit