- Stash announced Wednesday the launch of a new core banking system and a refreshed debit card.
- CEO Brandon Krieg told Insider ‘Stash Core’ will make it easier to develop new products.
- The startup inked new partnerships with Mastercard, Stride Bank, Marqeta, and other fintech names.
Seven years after Stash first launched, the investing and banking app founded upon an ethos of long-term investing counts nearly $3 billion in assets under management, more than 2 million customers, and nearly 500 employees.
But the technical demands on any young company often become more complex as it matures. For Stash, a fintech built on both deposit banking and investing rails, that has led to an overhaul of the fintech’s financial infrastructure and a host of new partnerships.
On Wednesday, Stash announced the launch of Stash Core, a new banking system that Brandon Krieg, Stash’s cofounder and CEO, said amounts to a rebuild of the startup’s back-end tech stack. Stash also unveiled an updated “Stock-Back” debit card, now issued through new partners Stride Bank and Mastercard.
“Now, we have this really robust infrastructure that we can keep evolving and innovating off the backend,” Krieg told Insider. “It gives us better banking for our customers now, and experiences that we now control end to end, and then unlocks for the future.”
That type of flexibility will be crucial for the startup. Stash is one player in the increasingly competitive market for personal finance fintechs. Upstart competitors from Betterment to Acorns, payments giants like Cash App and PayPal, and legacy incumbents from Goldman Sachs to the Walmart-backed fintech ONE, are all vying to be the go-to app for retail investors and savers.
For its part, Stash has steadily grown its AUM from $1 billion in April 2020 to nearly $3 billion currently. And it now counts $125 million in annualized revenue. The startup last raised money in February 2021, a $125 million Series G round that valued it at $1.4 billion, CNBC reported. In 2020, meanwhile, Stash brought on a new creative director and rebranded as the fintech, like other personal finance apps, saw surging customer activity at the height of the pandemic.
Krieg said Stash’s engineers have been imagining the potential of Core for the better part of two years, and that the development of the back-end banking tech brought in customer insights gleaned over Stash’s history. The company found, for example, that most customers preferred not to dial a call center in the event of a card dispute, preferring instead to chat digitally, and changed their contact procedures as a result.
According to a blog post penned by Stash execs Jasma Ghai, Andrew O’Toole, and Silvia Tueros-Cossio, much of the startup’s new banking tech was coded in Go, an open-source programming language. While the execs said that many of the more than 50 engineers Stash hired to work on Core weren’t yet trained in Go, new hires picked it up quickly and reduced the time to implement “substantial” new pieces of code to an average of 3.4 days.
Stash Core is also emblematic of the broader tech changes the startup has pursued over time, the blog said, like moving from the cloud operator Heroku to Amazon Web Services and containerizing internal applications so they can then run independently of each other.
Partnerships as guardrails
Much of Stash Core was built in-house and involved the coordination of product, engineering, and design teams — more than half of Stash’s employees now work in engineering, Krieg said. But as part of the launch Stash also announced a host of new partnerships with large fintech and financial names, including the aforementioned Stride Bank and Mastercard as well as payments API startup Marqeta, identity player Alloy, and German cloud banking provider Mambu.
These partnerships, Krieg said, “give us guardrails because we can’t be good at everything, it’s impossible. We can’t build everything. A lot of times you have to look at vendors who can actually help you do their piece and do it really, really well.”
As part of the launch of Stash Core, the startup also said it is revamping the incentives associated with its “Stock-Back” debit card, which was previously issued in partnership with Visa. Customers who subscribe to Stash’s higher, $9 per month tier now receive 1% back on eligible purchases, up to $1,000 a month, in the form of stock from the public companies they frequent (think shares in Target, ExxonMobil, or Walmart).
Krieg said that Stash’s doubling down on the integration of investment and debit card products is indicative of the company’s strategy going forward — and how it plans to differentiate itself to customers and potential investors alike.
“We don’t go out and sell ourselves as a challenger bank,” Krieg said. “Banking is part of wealth.”