First Boulevard, a challenger bank dedicated to serving the African American community, announced a $5 million seed funding round this week. Participating in the investment were Barclays, Anthemis, and a number of angel investors including actress Gabrielle Union and AutoZone CFO Jamere Jackson. Donald Hawkins, CEO and co-founder of the Overland, Kansas-based neobank, said that the funding would help First Boulevard build out its business marketplace of black-owned SMEs for its Cash Back for Buying Black program.
The capital will also enable the company to grow its team, its customer base, and its platform. Co-founded last August by Hawkins and COO Asya Bradley during the George Floyd/anti-racism protests of 2020, First Boulevard anticipates launching in Q3 of 2021. Among the neobank’s initial offerings will be a no-fee debit card, solutions to automate savings and wealth-building, as well as financial education resources.
As we noted last month in our Black History Month look at African-American based digital banks, the fledgling challenger bank already has forged an innovative partnership with Visa. First Boulevard will pilot a new suite of Visa’s crypto APIs that enable the trading and custody of digital assets.
“The First Boulevard mission is to help Black America build wealth,” Hawkins said last month when the initiative was announced. “We are thrilled to partner with the leader in digital payments, Visa, and leverage their crypto APIs to provide another channel for the Black community to access crypto as a new asset class that can help build Black wealth.”
First Boulevard’s participation in the cryptocurrency project is a reminder of the growing intersection between the African American community and digital assets. A growing number of black observers of and participants in the cryptocurrency space have advocated Bitcoin and other digital assets as a way for African Americans to achieve independence from a financial structure many believe is systemically stacked against them.
Photo by nappy from Pexels
The post Five On It: Black Neobank First Boulevard Raises Seed Funding appeared first on Finovate.
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