Hazel or H^zel as it’s sometimes noted, an independent startup that was launched in partnership with Walmart and Ribbit Capital, has been very busy lately. Today they announced the intended purchase of neobank One Finance, which operates through Coastal Community Bank’s charter. Coastal provides FDIC insurance on deposits and access to payment networks among other banking services. The current product that One offers includes a full-featured banking account with an overdraft option for approved account holders. A Mastercard World debit card is available that customers are encouraged to “turn into a credit card with a credit line.” The credit card offered has a low 12% APR.
They also announced a second acquisition of on-demand Earned Wage Access (EWA) provider Even. Even offers services to employers allowing employees to get paid as frequently as daily. Even is currently providing these services to Walmart employees.
Hazel plans to bring these services together under the brand name ONE. Both companies have strong user apps that include budgeting and savings tools. I believe that these services could be developed using Walmart’s own employee base as a testing ground for these acquired services. Perhaps Walmart could then sell these services to their customers in a direct-to-consumer approach or even selling to businesses – perhaps their own suppliers – as an additional channel.
Here’s what Bloomberg had to say regarding the transactions:
Walmart Inc.’s financial-technology venture agreed to buy two small companies and rebrand itself in a step toward providing an app that enables customers to save, borrow and receive money.
The venture, Hazel, will acquire fintech platforms Even and ONE for an undisclosed amount, Walmart said in a statement Wednesday. The combined business will operate under the ONE brand name after the deals close, which is expected to happen in the first half of this year.
The moves signal an acceleration in Walmart’s plans to shake up the banking world by offering tech-driven financial services to its 1.6 million U.S. employees and more than 100 million weekly shoppers. Omer Ismail, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. veteran whom Walmart poached last year, will lead ONE as chief executive officer.
“Consumers everywhere are being left behind by the world of financial services,” Ismail said in the statement. “Our vision is clear: build on Even and ONE’s success to offer a product that offers consumers the best way to spend, the best way to access their wages and helps millions save and grow their money.”
David Baga, CEO of Even, and Brian Hamilton, co-founder of ONE, will also serve in leadership positions. The combined business will have more than 200 employees and be capitalized with more than $250 million in cash on the balance sheet.
After the deals close, ONE will expand with new hires and potential mergers and acquisitions, Walmart said. Hazel is also backed by Ribbit Capital, an investor in stock-trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc.
Overview by Sarah Grotta, Director, Debit and Alternative Products Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group