Protocol | Fintech

Chime's not a bank. It's expanding overdraft protection anyway.

The company's CEO said it's been "clear" that it's a technology company. But it's doubling down on a popular banking feature.

​Chime CEO Chris Britt says his company's not a bank.

Chime CEO Chris Britt says his company's not a bank.

Photo: Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Chime, which was valued at $14.5 billion last September, is expanding its fee-free overdraft product, SpotMe, to help customers who are living paycheck to paycheck.

The challenger bank has grown quickly in recent years by focusing on consumers who have been overlooked by traditional banks targeting higher-income consumers, said CEO Chris Britt.

Chime is now increasing the amount that it will allow Chime users to overdraft on their accounts from $100 to $200. The feature was used by 2.5 million of its members over the past year.

The increase is a meaningful difference for Chime users and is one of its most asked-for product improvements from customers, Britt said. "It may not sound like much, but a lot of Americans live paycheck to paycheck," he said. "Having a little short-term liquidity is helpful."

The feature is used to buy things like gas or groceries, he said. Some gas stations place $100 holds on purchases, so some customers could require an overdraft even if they are not technically below $0 on their account.

The feature is only available to Chime users who are using direct deposit with Chime. Chime solicits tips when customers repay the negative balance.

The overdraft product and its lack of fees differentiates Chime from traditional banks, which charge overdraft fees and fees on savings accounts, Britt said. Many banks and credit unions offer programs that move funds from linked accounts to cover overdrafts without charge, though some charge a fee. Citibank offers a Checking Plus line of credit that covers overdrafts automatically, but imposes a fee on basic accountholders and charges interest on the balance.

Chime recently stopped using the term "bank" after a settlement with California regulators, since Chime is not regulated as a bank.

"If you watch my interviews over the years, we try to make very clear ... Chime is not a bank," Britt said. 'We have bank partners that hold the money, so there shouldn't be any confusion around that. We're making sure consumers understand the fact that we're not a bank, we're a fintech company."

Chime's bank partners, Bancorp Bank and Stride Bank, hold deposits for its customers. Disclosures to that effect appear in small type on Chime's homepage under the large words "Banking that has your back."

Protocol | Policy

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Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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A technology company reimagining global capital markets and economies.
Protocol | China

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Citizens in China are experienced at cooking up countermeasures when Beijing or governments come down with rigid policies.

Photo: Liu Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. She can be reached at

Protocol | Policy

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The on-again, off-again battle between the two companies flared up again when Google commissioned a study on how much the U.S. government relies on Microsoft software.

Google and Microsoft are in a long-running feud that has once again flared up in recent months.

Photo: Jens Tandler/EyeEm/Getty Images

According to a new report commissioned by Google, Microsoft has an overwhelming "share in the U.S. government office productivity software market," potentially leading to security risks for local, state and federal governments.

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Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.


Facebook wants to kill the family iPad

Facebook has built the first portable smart display, and is introducing a new household mode that makes it easier to separate work from play.

Facebook's new Portal Go device will go on sale for $199 in October.

Photo: Facebook

Facebook is coming for the coffee table tablet: The company on Tuesday introduced a new portable version of its smart display called Portal Go, which promises to be a better communal device for video calls, media consumption and many of the other things families use iPads for.

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Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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