‘Fintech is the next natural step for us’: Squire Card brings banking solutions for the underserved barber industry
- Squire has teamed up with Bond to launch the Squire Card, which provides banking solutions tailored for the barber industry.
- The card brings core financial services to one of the most underbanked professions in the U.S.
Although there are nearly 136,000 registered barbershops in the U.S., they constitute an industry that has been underserved by traditional financial institutions. Due to the nature of their profession, barbers often have to deal with a unique set of challenges such as unpredictable cash flows, delayed payments, and inconsistent earnings, which can lead to serious financial troubles, particularly in the midst of a global pandemic.
Squire, a booking, management, and payment app for barbershops, has launched a unique debit card to tackle this problem by collaborating with Bond, an embedded finance infrastructure provider. Directly integrated into Squire’s mobile and web app, the Squire Card helps barbershops manage their cash flow, and allows barbers to receive instant payments, pay bills, track expenses, and get early access to earnings.
The card enables barbershop owners to instantly transfer money into their employees’ accounts, which means barbers don’t have to wait until the end of the month to get paid – they can walk out of the shop with the day’s earnings already available for withdrawal. They also get instant access to tips and commissions, which contributes to a more stable income that gets spread out over the month.
Founded in 2019 by professionals from SoFi, Twilio, SAP, Goldman Sachs, and Blackrock, Bond enables companies from any industry to embed financial products and create personalized services for their customers, including digital deposit accounts, as well as physical and virtual debit and credit cards.
Squire’s CEO Songe LaRon worked as a corporate lawyer in New York for several years before he decided to leave that world and start a barbershop. While running that shop, LaRon – along with Squire co-founder Dave Salvant – saw the financial struggles of barbers firsthand. They learned that many barbers had no bank accounts and lacked access to even the most basic financial services.
This led to the birth of Squire in 2015. LaRon and Salvant started off with a basic booking and scheduling platform for barbershops, before turning to Point of Sale software and payments.
The Squire team underwent an extensive selection process when deciding who should create the Squire Card, from early-stage startups to large fintech unicorns. Eventually, they chose Bond, because its scalable architecture enabled them to tailor the Squire Card to the specific requirements of their customer base.
“Bond’s platform is flexible and enterprise-grade, designed to scale with us as we continue to grow and offer new financial services products,” said Squire co-founder Salvant, who is also the president of the company. “We didn’t want to build up a huge compliance team – we are not bankers and don’t want to be bankers. Bond enables us to offer custom-built services to our community without the hassles and delays associated with building financial services on our own.”
By teaming up with Bond, Squire was able to launch the new card in around 3 months. According to Squire’s research, that’s about 6 to 8 times faster than the 18-24 months it would’ve taken for them to build the card directly with a bank, given the massive complexities of working across companies that don’t have shared goals or technologies.
In the coming years, Squire plans to leverage Bond’s infrastructure to expand its financial offerings to include credit cards, loans, and insurance. “Fintech is the next natural step for Squire,” said Salvant. “We already have deep insight into our customers and know they need more financial services that cater to their specific needs.”
The Squire Card is an interesting use case that shows the power of embedded finance to meet the needs of the underbanked, according to Charley Ma, GM of fintech at identity verification firm Alloy. Looking ahead, he says embedded finance will play a key role in helping non-financial businesses operate efficiently while providing customized financial solutions to their customers.
“We're at the very early innings of embedded fintech,” said Ma. “The idea of a vertical solution launching a card and bank account would have been pretty outrageous just 5 years ago, so it's really exciting to see companies like Squire launching a fully built out card product.”
Embedded finance has already become a priority across many industries. A recent report by Plaid and Accenture found that almost half (47%) of over 1,000 non-financial company leaders are actively investing in and planning to launch embedded finance offerings in the near future. Furthermore, nearly 90% of those who have introduced embedded finance products reported increased engagement levels from customers.
Recent examples of non-financial companies introducing embedded finance products include Toast, a restaurant management software that provides loans of up to $100,000 for restaurant owners, and Mindbody, a management platform for the wellness services sector that offers cash advances to owners of small businesses.
“We are on the cusp of a future where financial products are seamlessly integrated into the services people use every day,” said Roy Ng, co-founder and CEO of Bond. “This future will benefit consumers immensely, especially those not addressed by the current financial system. We will finally be able to reach corners of the population that have been overlooked by traditional finance.”