A startup is promising crypto yields without the crypto headaches

Eco is trying to be a nonbank with bank-like services — and crypto hidden away on the back end providing higher yields.

Eco CEO Andy Bromberg

Andy Bromberg is a crypto entrepreneur. His new venture, Eco, promises bank-like services, minus the bank.

Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A startup is taking on traditional banking with a crypto-powered offering — but it's letting its customers still deal in dollars.

Eco CEO Andy Bromberg says he's not running a neobank, which typically offers a different brand and interface over accounts that are actually housed in a chartered sponsor bank. It's also not a crypto exchange or wallet: It's going after consumers who haven't caught the crypto bug. Instead, he said , Eco's attempting to rethink the entire system of savings, checking and payments with a crypto-based business model on the back end.

"A lot of fintech has made better consumer products," Bromberg said. "Neobanks are better products to deal with money, but they don't work on better infrastructure and alignment" with customers.

Staking a claim

"Eco is not a bank," the company proclaims in bold font on its website. But it lets you "spend, save and make money," aiming to replace a bank, a checking account and a credit card. When you spend at certain merchants you get 5% back. And you earn a 2.5% annual yield on your balance — compared to less than 0.5% at many banks. Goldman's Marcus currently offers 0.5%, among the highest bank rates.

Eco customers only deposit and only ever see fiat dollars in their Eco account. Consumers can deposit their paychecks, or send in cash. But on the back end, Eco converts that to crypto, in the form of USDC stablecoins.

The crypto world is alight with interest in staking, a process of leaving crypto coins in an account and allowing them to be used to secure blockchain transactions. It's part of the complex world known as decentralized finance or DeFi, but the end result of this "yield farming" looks a lot like earning interest. And the rates are high — Coinbase offers 4%, and others offer yields of 8% or more for staked coins. USDC coins are created by Centre, a consortium backed by Circle and Coinbase, and they're popular for staking.

Eco lends out USDC, and provides 2.5% cash back to consumers, or up to 5% for referrals — which is all converted back to fiat for consumers. This is Eco's version of a savings account. They could earn more if they bought the USDC directly and staked it at Coinbase or other crypto companies, but Eco is betting that consumers will prefer the simplicity it offers, and Eco's approach is safer than direct "on chain" approaches, Bromberg said.

Unlike a regular bank, Eco accounts are not FDIC insured, which is standard at most banks. Eco says that many of its customers don't need or care about FDIC insurance.

Eco uses Wyre, a crypto-fiat API provider, to convert its users' fiat dollars into USDC. Wyre, a FinCEN-registered money services business, also handles compliance issues.

"Our job is to abstract away all dollars, stablecoins and money movement stuff behind the scenes and have one simple balance," Bromberg said.

Eco is lending out deposits just like a traditional bank but in a different way, Bromberg said. However, it's not regulated the way a licensed bank is. Eco users' capital is only lent out to regulated financial institutions, Bromberg said. He wouldn't name these institutions: "We leverage Wyre to provide yield but do not have anything to share beyond that."

There is demand to borrow stablecoins for a variety of different uses, from retail investors looking for leverage to crypto miners that need loans for operations to OTC desks, Bromberg said.

Bromberg is the former president and co-founder of startup CoinList, which spun out of AngelList to do token offerings for projects like Filecoin. Eco initially planned to launch a token, but as of now has not moved on those plans. Its website makes reference to "Eco Points," and says its team's compensation is tied up with them.

Regulatory questions

Regulators could have questions about the model. BlockFi, a crypto company, has been scrutinized by regulators in Vermont, Alabama, Texas and New Jersey, for its BlockFi Interest Account with concerns that it violates securities laws.

"We are closely watching all that, and haven't been convinced by the regulatory arguments on the status of that," Bromberg said. "We're monitoring and making sure we're up to date."

Eco customers can also spend their money through transactions from their Eco account — currently it only works at Amazon, Uber, DoorDash and Instacart. The merchants get paid in dollars via virtual gift cards, which provide 5% cash back to the consumer. This is designed to be a replacement for a traditional credit card, but it's limited at present.

Eco is also preparing to launch bill pay, to enable a much larger set of payments. And in November, the company plans to introduce a debit card to enable spending anywhere. That will require engaging with a chartered bank, Bromberg said — it's hard to escape the established financial system.

Eco is not regulated as a bank, but the entities it uses are regulated, Bromberg says. One company it works with is Prime Trust, a Nevada chartered trust company which receives Eco's deposits, since Eco is not regulated as a money transmitter. Prime Trust is a money transmitter regulated by FinCEN. And either Prime Trust or Wyre holds Eco customers' deposits at any given time, Bromberg says.

Aside from some explainers on its website, Eco doesn't promote the fact that its back end is crypto-based, because it wants to make its product as simple as possible for consumers. "We're happy to talk about it," Bromberg says. "People don't really care."

Eco recently raised $60 million just five months after raising $26 million in pre-seed funding—from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund and L Catterton.

Maria Renz: Gopuff will make it through the fast-delivery slump

Maria Renz on her new role, the state of fast delivery and Gopuff’s goals for the coming year.

Gopuff has raised $4 billion at a $15 billion valuation.

Photo: Gopuff

The fast-delivery boom sent startups soaring during the pandemic, only for them to come crashing down in recent months. But Maria Renz said Gopuff is prepared to get through the slump.

“Gopuff is really well-positioned to weather through those challenges that we expect in the next year or so,” Renz told Protocol. “We're first party, we control elements of our mix, like price, very directly. And again, we have nine years of experience.”

Keep Reading Show less
Sarah Roach

Sarah (Sarahroach_) writes for Source Code at Protocol. She's a recent graduate of The George Washington University, where she studied journalism and criminal justice. She served for two years as editor-in-chief of GW's independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet. Sarah is based in New York, and can be reached at

Some of the most astounding tech-enabled advances of the next decade, from cutting-edge medical research to urban traffic control and factory floor optimization, will be enabled by a device often smaller than a thumbnail: the memory chip.

While vast amounts of data are created, stored and processed every moment — by some estimates, 2.5 quintillion bytes daily — the insights in that code are unlocked by the memory chips that hold it and transfer it. “Memory will propel the next 10 years into the most transformative years in human history,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO of Micron Technology.

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.

AT&T CTO: Challenges of the cloud transition are interpersonal

Jeremy Legg sat down with Protocol to discuss the race to 5G, the challenges of the cloud transition and nabbing tech talent.

AT&T CTO Jeremy Legg spoke with Protocol about the company's cloud transition and more.

Photo: AT&T

Jeremy Legg is two months into his role as CTO of AT&T, and he has been tasked with a big mandate: transforming the company into a software-driven business, with 5G and fiber as core growth areas.

This isn’t Legg’s first CTO gig, just his biggest one. He’s an entertainment biz guy who’s now at the center of the much bigger, albeit less glamorous, telecom business. Prior to joining AT&T in 2020, Legg was the CTO of WarnerMedia, where he was the technical architect behind HBO Max.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at


How Canva uses Canva

Design tips and tricks from the ultimate Canva pros: Canva employees themselves.

Employees use Canva to build the internal weekly “Canvazine,” product vision decks, team swag and more.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Ever wondered how the companies behind your favorite tech use their own products? We’ve told you how Spotify uses Spotify, How Slack uses Slack and how Meta uses its workplace tools. We talked to Canva employees about the creative ways they use the design tool.

The thing about Canva is that it's ridiculously easy to use. Anyone, regardless of skill level, can open up the app and produce a visually appealing presentation, infographic or video. The 10-year-old company has become synonymous with DIY design, serving as the preferred Instagram infographic app for the social justice “girlies.” Still, the app has plenty of overlooked features that Canvanauts (Canva’s word for its employees) use every day.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at


GitHub’s CEO wants to go passwordless by 2025

Thomas Dohmke sat down with Protocol to talk about what the open-source code hosting site is doing to address security vulnerabilities, including an aim to go passwordless by 2025.

GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke spoke to Protocol about its plan to go passwordless.

Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Sportsfile for Collision via Getty Images

GitHub CEO Thomas Dohmke wants to get rid of passwords.

Open-source software has been plagued with cybersecurity issues for years, and GitHub and other companies in the space have been taking steps to bolster security. Dohmke knows, however, that to get to the root of the industrywide problem will take more than just corporate action: It will ultimately require a sea change and cultural shift in how developers work.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at

Latest Stories