Mia Alexander wants neobank Dave to become the top choice for underrepresented communities in the United States. She works on initiatives to boost their employability and fix a system that has left minorities with less access to financial services.

  • The Insider’s Banker of the Week series appears in our weekday newsletter, 10 Things on Wall Street.
  • This week, we’re honoring Mia Alexander, vice-president of neobank Dave.

For roughly two decades, Mia Alexander has embarked on one of banking’s most ruthless, and at times, head-scratching efforts, figuring out solutions for vast swathes of the country that are severely underbanked.

Alexander is Vice President of Client Success at Dave, the neobank known for providing cash advances to its clients. Before joining Dave in 2019, she worked at Green Dot Corporation, another digital bank, for almost 17 years. She connects underrepresented communities to banking services, helps them find jobs and concocts ways to better manage their finances.

It is a role that has taken on greater importance since the start of the pandemic. The number of unemployed workers in the Hispanic community rose 4.7% in the fourth quarter of 2020, compared with the same quarter a year earlier, according to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment in the black community increased by 4.5%, while unemployed white workers increased by 2.8%. The coronavirus temporarily shut down service industries, which employ many minorities, who had no jobs that allowed them to work from home.

For Alexander, not only was it a moment of reflection, but it was also an opportunity to capitalize on the demand for fintech start-ups and deliver a suite of products for communities that have struggled to attract demand. attention of the big banks.

“What brought me to Dave wasn’t about replacing traditional banks. It’s not just about traditional banking solutions, but about filling that void when people need extra money. And when they are willing to set goals, it’s important to be a sort of ambassador for them,” Alexander told Insider.

Dave’s primary focus is cash advances, which Alexander says “disrupted the concept of a credit bureau” because it removes factors such as income or assets, while still providing liquidity to underbanked parts of society.

Alexander also helped facilitate Side Hustle, a service that connects Dave’s clients to jobs to supplement their main income.

One of the first steps she wanted to figure out was how to help underserved communities without taking “additional cost out of the pocket of the community.” The neobank has also taken advantage of the gig economy as a way to get more revenue streams for Dave’s clients.

A typical Dave user might deliver UberEats at night alongside a 9am-5pm gig throughout the week. Side Hustle connects customers to more than three million job applications, Alexander said.

“It’s not just about waiving fees or reducing overdrafts. Are we there to provide them with relevant and easy-to-access jobs?”

However, it is not easy and the competition is fierce. Traditional lenders have understood the importance of diversifying their reach and, more importantly, digital banking is the top priority for lenders of all sizes, whether they are booming fintechs or household names with balance sheets. gargantuan.

Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase has recruited a slew of fintechs to bolster its own retail banking products, while Marcus, the consumer lending arm of Goldman Sachs, is offering customers some of the savings accounts the most lucrative on Main Street.

Despite the competition, Alexander is committed to “raising the voice of the customer” and leveling the financial playing field.

It can be a thankless task. Banks, at the end of the day, exist to be profitable, and it’s hard when your primary customer is bringing in less money. But for Alexandre, this is where the problem lies.

“Traditional banking hasn’t really effectively powered that community. We’ve been through COVID, civil rights movements. So I’m very much involved in ensuring that our technology powers problematic spaces,” she said.

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