Rob Curtis and Billie Simmons knew that LGBTQ+ people had unique financial needs—and traditional banks were not meeting them. So they created their own. Daylight, which launched last December and is still in beta, is the first LGBTQ+ digital bank in the United States. It was informed by their experiences as a gay man and trans woman, respectively. “We had established ourselves in our various careers by downplaying those aspects of our identity,” says Simmons, who is COO as well as cofounder. “What we quickly realized was that actually, this is our competitive advantage.” Daylight’s signature feature is that it allows customers to create accounts with their chosen name regardless of what’s on their ID, eliminating a significant impediment for trans people when interacting with the financial services industry. The duo is taking the fight to the greater industry, debuting a “Call Me By My Name” campaign to pressure the American Banking Association to be more inclusive of trans people. In addition, Daylight offers resources for its members to navigate major financial decisions such as starting a family via in-vitro fertilization or opting for gender confirmation surgery. “Customers weren’t complaining very loudly because we’ve been educated to take table scraps,” says Curtis, who is Daylight’s CEO and cofounder. Established players are already taking notice. In recent months the startup (which launched in partnership with Visa’s fintech accelerator program) added Citibank and JPMorgan Chase as investors. Simmons and Curtis have also advised Fidelity, Experian, and ScotiaBank on how to design better systems for their LGBTQ+ customers. It intends to use its recent fundraising to build tools that help its customers see how queer-friendly their spending is, and offer incentives to patronize merchants which support the LGBTQ+ community.
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