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Earnest is an American financial services company based in San Francisco that touts a merit-based lending policy. Primarily a tech company, Earnest aims to help make a dent in America's $1.2 trillion student loan epidemic with its software that analyzes data like employment history and income to find financially responsible borrowers for its products. In early 2015, the consumer finance company--which was already offering consumer loans--began offering graduates the chance to refinance their student loans at incredibly low rates: as low as 1.90%. Fewer overhead costs and human labor make the process cheaper, which trickles down to the customer in the form of cheaper payments. Earnest CEO Louis Beryl says the average borrower saves $17,936. The loans are also refreshingly simple and flexible, meaning students can adjust how often they're paying based on their personal needs and know what it will cost them in interest. Since expanding into student loans, Earnest has made 50 times as many loans as in 2014. Near the close of 2015, Earnest raised a round of $275 million in the form of debt and equity--further proof that fintech's attempts to overhaul our financial status quo might be a lasting development.

What to look out for:

A rush of hiring: Earnest expects to add 200 people as it rolls out a mobile version of its lending tools.
An expanded menu of financial services, with ambitions of becoming an actual bank

Top perks for employees:

Lower rate earnest loans, airfare, equity, housing stipend

Social media handles:

Twitter: @meetEarnest

50 Most Innovative Companies 2017


public or private
Earnest lends between $2 million and $5 million per day
San Francisco, CA