A day after a bill that would codify same-sex marriage in the US cleared a major hurdle in the Senate, Daylight, a digital bank that bills itself as LGBTQIA+-friendly, closed a $15 million Series A round under led by Anthemis Group with participation from CMFG Ventures, Kapor Capital, Citi Ventures and Gaingels.
Daylight co-founder and CEO Rob Curtis says the new capital will be used to, in his words, “build the financial products and services to help queer people live their best lives” — starting with a subscription called Daylight Grow, designed to help future queer families with financial planning.
“There are more than 30 million LGBTQ+ Americans with a spending power of about $1 trillion, yet the community lacks access to the range of products and services they need to live their best lives,” Curtis told australiabusinessblog.com in an e-mail. mail interview. “Daylight was created with a single mission: to build financial products and services to help queer people live their best lives.”
Curtis launched Daylight in early 2020 alongside Billie Simmons, a trans woman, and Paul Barnes-Hoggett. Prior to founding Daylight, Curtis worked for several organizations that supported LGBTQ+ lifestyles and causes, including Gaydar, a dating site for gay and bisexual men. He also co-founded Squad Social and Helsa Helps, startups that aim to improve access to mental health for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Daylight is part of a wave of recent neobanks – bank-like fintech companies that operate online, without physical branch networks – organized around ambitious goals and missions. Rapper Killer Mike’s Greenwood wants to help Black and Latinx communities build generational wealth. Launched the same year as Greenwood (2020), Majority seeks to develop banking tools and resources for immigrants. Purpose Banking, Aspiration and One all pledge to never allow deposits to fund fossil fuels.
With the wealth of ethically forward-thinking fintechs out there, why would you create a neobank for LGBTQ+ people? According to Curtis, most mainstream banking products simply aren’t designed with US-based gays in mind. (Pride Bank, a neobank with a similar queer-forward branding, is based in Brazil.) For example, Daylight provides debit cards with customer-chosen names, which are not always the same as what appears on their ID. It offers members 10% cashback for every time they spend money with a foreign and affiliate company that Daylight works with. And it provides guided targets for gender-affirming procedures such as top surgery and facial feminization.
In addition to cash management features like a checking account, free ATMs, and the ability for members to get paid two days early, Daylight hosts communities where customers can ask questions about “weird financial literacy,” such as family planning, in what Curtis claims is a safe haven. and supportive environment.
“At Daylight, our mission has always been to break down the financial barriers holding back LGBTQ+ people… In this post-Dobbs world, Daylight’s commitment to supporting queer families has never been more necessary,” said Curtis, referring to the Supreme Court case. which legalized abortion bans in the US and opened the door to legal challenges of marriage equality.
Certainly, members of the LGBTQ+ community face tax challenges that many cisgender, heterosexual adults never do. Some suffer the consequences of being kicked out of their homes by unacceptable parents. Others are on the hook for HIV/AIDS treatment, hormone therapy and fertility procedures. Most queer people move to high-end metro areas because they are more accepting and progressive, and many queer people lack a safety net — either because they don’t have family support or don’t have children to care for them.
For that and other reasons, LGBTQ+ people often earn less, live in poverty and have less retirement savings than their cisgender counterparts. The situation for transgender people is particularly dire, with the poverty rate for the transgender community in the US averaging around 30% – almost double the rate of cisgender adults — according to a 2019 study from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. So are transgender people twice as likely to be unemployed and four times more likely to have a family income under $10,000; US federal poverty in 2021 was $12,880.
The aforementioned Daylight Grow isn’t a panacea, but addresses the major hurdles many queer couples face in starting a family. This is a significant portion of Daylight’s customers. A recent poll from the Family Equality Council found it that nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ millennials – 63% – are considering becoming first-time parents or expanding their family.
When the product launches in early 2023, Simmons says Daylight Grow will offer a personalized “family creation plan” with financial, legal and logistical milestones tailored to individual states and needs, “family planning concierges” to provide financial advice and logistical support, a “family building marketplace” with vetted family advocate networks and recommendations for IVF and surrogacy clinics, and in-person financial and fertility education events.
“Creating a family is a major life event for queer people and the challenges we face are increasingly complex than those faced by non-LGBTQ people,” Simmons told australiabusinessblog.com via email. “The launch of Daylight Grow will help queer people navigate the complex legal and financial challenges associated with starting a family, making it faster and easier to start a family, and unlocking critical intergenerational wealth for our community.”
Daylight Grow also offers access to family building loans, a potential breakthrough for queer customers who have faced discrimination from traditional banks. According to a 2019 studysame-sex borrowers were 73% more likely to decline a mortgage or be approved for a mortgage at a higher-than-average interest rate.
Daylight plans to offer hundreds of free Grow subscriptions to marginalized, low-income families in states where LGBTQ+ rights are under heavy attack, Curtis said. Which states – and Grow’s prices – are still being determined.
Daylight has raised $20 million in capital to date. Curtis declined to answer questions about earnings and hiring plans, preferring, at least for now, to keep the focus on the company’s core mission.