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TikTok star Charli D’Amelio fronts new digital bank aimed at teenagers

Step and Charli D’Amelio have also launched a $100,000 giveaway to mark the banking app’s launch.

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Charli D'Ameilo via Instagram

Step, the new digital bank on the US fintech scene, has launched with the help of 16-year-old TikTok megastar Charli D’Amelio and her 91 million followers.  

Now, while using a celebrity to promote a digital bank or banking service is not new, it’s never been done by a bank with children as its target demographic.  

It’s also not a new thing for fintechs to promote themselves on TikTok for instance, UK fintechs Moneybox,Plum and Snoop have been known to use the social media platform in a bid to expand their customer bases. 

Step is offering users a free FDIC-supported (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) bank account that comes with a Visa-backed card and promises users no interest or fees and will help teenagers build positive credit. 

Charli D’Amelio, TikTok’s most-followed star with over 91 million followers, has thrown her support behind the new challenger bank and helped the fintech kick off its launch with a $100,000 giveaway. 

The 16-year-old, who quickly shot to fame on the social media app over the course of 2020, announced the collaboration through a TikTok that has been liked by more than 2m users and been watched over 13m times. 

D’Amelio also made an Instagram post to her 30m followers promoting the banking service and the $100,000 giveaway which has since been liked nearly 2.7m times. 

Children as young as 13 can join the ‘Step Squad’, as well as enter the cash giveaway, all they need is an adult over the age of 18 to sponsor their account, with the sponsor being able to see the teen’s real-time balance, add money and freeze an account if necessary.  

Charli D’Amelio, TikTok star and Step partner, said: “As I started making my own money, it was important for me to find a banking app that felt like it was designed for me.”  

“Step has been a game-changer –– I always know how much money I have to spend and it even makes it simple for me to pay back friends for coffee. Unfortunately, we don’t always learn much about how to manage or save money as teens, so I’m excited to partner with Step to help teach people at my age about smart money habits.” 

According to research from non-profit organisation Junior Achievement, a third of US teens (34 per cent) don’t have a bank account, 44 per cent worry about student debt and 71 per cent have expressed concern about their credit scores. 

CJ MacDonald, Founder and CEO of Step, said: “[Teens] expect to manage their money in the same way as their social media but banks have failed to keep up––largely overlooking this generation and their unique needs.” 

“Step was built to fill this gap, providing modern financial tools that enable teens to easily manage their money while helping to improve their financial literacy at an earlier age.” 

With the Step app, teens will be able to check their balances, monitor spending and build positive credit. 

The digital banking service also implements a cash referral scheme, whereby children who refer a friend to use the service and those they refer will receive $1 each, which increases to $2 once they have made three successful referrals, sent a payment via the app and use their card. 

The banking app recently raised $22.5m in Series A funding in a round led by payments giant Stripe and with participation from actor Will Smith’s Dreamers fund and rapper Nas, as well as other institutional investors. 

Step itself doesn’t have a banking licence, rather it uses Tennessee-based bank Evolve Bank & Trust to conduct its banking services.

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