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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Neobanking startup Zolve aims to provide credit cards to Indians going to the US

MUMBAI: Zolve, a neobanking startup, has tied up with a US-based Community Federal Savings Bank (CFSB) to provide credit cards to Indians going to the US for higher studies or employment. Such individuals may have a credit history in India, but none in the US. Zolve aims to use this credit history and other parameters to issue the cards. 

Zolve will also open a bank account for its users before they actually move to the US. The card is sent to users once they arrive there.

“Normally banks in the US require a social security number in order to issue credit cards for a customer and this takes 2-3 months to get. However, what is not widely understood is that even a US visa is valid ID proof for this purpose and which is what we do," said Raghunandan G, founder, Zolve, who was formerly co founder of Taxi-for-sure. 

Customers have to provide a US address within 90 days of opening the bank account. “The credit card has a standard 1 month interest free period. For those who pay the minimum balance due, there is an interest free period of 6 months on the remaining outstanding amount and thereafter interest kicks in. The credit card also allows you to establish a US credit history from day 1. This means that it becomes easier to secure accommodation since landlords almost inevitably check the credit history of tenants before approving a tenancy. It also reduces your insurance premiums," he said.

Forex spreads and fees exact a steep toll on Indian immigrants and students in the US. Zolve is working with an Indian bank to secure a favourable deal for its customers, Raghunandan added. The bank account, debit, and credit card are free of cost, he said, with no minimum balance requirements. Zolve earns its revenues from merchant discount rates on the cards. 

According to Raghunandan, in todays’ world the presence of a large branch net worth is not as important as a good online banking presence.

All US bank accounts are insured up to $250,000 under insurance provided by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, he said, including deposits with CFSB, Zolve’s partner bank. 

Zolve was launched in December 2020 and has 45,000 signups and an active customer base of 2,000 users for its bank account and cards. Although currently focused on the US-India use case, it will be expanding to other countries in the future.

Other startups offering international bank accounts to Indians include Winvesta which launched a multicurrency account in June 2021, based in the UK. The account focuses on Indian residents looking to diversify their investments abroad. The Winvesta account has a one-time set up fee of $5 and a flat fee of $1 on online payments made from it, although incoming payments are free. One can subscribe to a basic tier for $2.99/month, or a premium tier of $9.99/month.

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Neil Borate
Neil heads the personal finance team at Mint. A former colleague called them 'money nerds' and that's what they are. They cover topics like mutual funds, taxation and retirement, all to improve your chances of building wealth. Neil graduated with a degree in law and economics. He passed the CFA Level I exam and began his writing career at Value Research, a mutual fund research firm in 2016. He joined the personal finance team Mint in 2019. Everyday, the Mint Money Team tackles personal finance questions such as where to invest and where to borrow, through articles, charts and reader queries. They also have a daily podcast - 'Why Not Mint Money' and an annual ranking of mutual funds - the Mint 20.
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Updated: 30 Sep 2021, 12:50 PM IST
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