Daylight Photo

The LGBTQ+ community has long been deprived of equitable banking options. For financial services companies, that’s a big missed opportunity: In the U.S. alone, it’s a market of at least 15 million people, boasting an estimated buying power of nearly US$1 trillion. Daylight cofounder and CEO Rob Curtis saw the potential and delivered a bespoke solution: the first digital banking platform in the United States made specifically for and by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“We’re setting out to reinvent the relationship that LGBTQ+ people have with their banking partner,” Curtis says.

Daylight rolled out the app and services in November, partnering with Visa as part of the financial giant’s Fast Track program aimed at assisting startups in scaling fintech innovations. In this case, the goal is to use technology to help individuals in the LGBTQ+ community achieve financial literacy, stability and security. The need is there: In a 2018 study by Experian, 44 percent of LGBTQ respondents said they struggle to maintain adequate savings (versus 38 percent of the general population).

To make sure it was delivering the right services and UX, the company gathered insights from LGBTQ+ consumers—a lesson Curtis learned as former managing director of dating and social media app Gaydar. 

The process began with interviews and then Daylight pulled in a research agency to conduct an analysis of around 1,000 individuals—representing a diverse mix of gender identity, sexual orientation and race/ethnicity—in target cities. From there, the team was able to identify the most pressing banking concerns and financial challenges.

“We know that we can create deeper and longer-lasting value for our customers by focusing on their life and money pain-points and solving them deeply,” Curtis says.

For example, after learning that one of the biggest issues for individuals of transgender experience was having to match the name on their bank cards with their legal ID, Daylight decided to offer customers Visa-branded cards in their preferred name.

Even all that prep work wasn’t enough once COVID-19 hit. Not only was the company trying to build Daylight with a brand-new, all-virtual team, it also faced slowdowns in government approval. To recover the lost time, the team ran development and design projects in parallel.

“Being agile allowed us to absorb most of the COVID-related delays,” says Curtis. 

Now the team is aggressively looking forward, pushing to turn Daylight into the largest LGBTQ+ lifestyle and financial services business in the world, Curtis says. 

“We’ll know we’re successful when we welcome the first generation of Daylight babies—children born to Daylight customers who’ve received financial coaching from us and set up savings goals to help them have families.”