Can This DC Tech Startup Beat Credit Karma?
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A DC-based fintech firm is charging out of the beta testing gate to take on behemoths like Credit Karma and Bankrate. Is its strategy fierce enough?
WalletHub has developed a machine learning and data analytics algorithm that allow consumers to get free daily updates on their credit score and manage their finances. CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou, who left Capital One to launch the company, says the technology uses machine learning to track a user’s behavior and determine the right financial advice based on their monthly budget and salary. Some of those behavior traits can be as simple as knowing if someone pays the balance on their credit card bill every month to how much they’re spending on food versus gas. Suggestions are tailored on those traits as well as characteristics like the area where they live.
The 70-person company started as CardHub, which compares credit cards. Odysseas left Capital One where he was leading online credit card marketing to start a financial advisory firm in 2008. By the end of the year, the financial crisis hit and the business idea seemed too risky. So he pivoted to a credit card comparison service. That took off, generating enough profit from connecting consumers to certain credit cards to help launch WalletHub, which is coming out of a pilot phase.
Odysseas says WalletHub is different than Credit Karma and other free credit score services because there’s no billboard advertising across the website. It only presents offers from advertisers that make sense based on the personalized financial advice. WalletHub makes money each time a consumer takes the offer. CardHub and WalletHub are seeing 1.5 million unique visitors per month and Odysseas says the two services will eventually be merged. Right now WalletHub’s biggest audience is women ages 30-45. Odysseas thinks it’s appealing to busy mothers who manage the household finances.
The company raised some angel funding a few years ago but has no plans to raise venture capital. It also plans to grow to 100 people by the end of the year and will release an iOS mobile app next month and an Android version a month later.