Software That Automatically Fights For Bank Refunds Adds “PRO Index”
Harvest fills a unique role in the fintech world. The platform is an automatic banking advocation software that fights on behalf of users for the best deals possible.
Connect your bank information and the Harvest AI will fight late fees and overdraft fees. Customers are only charged a portion of funds returned, and if the program does not succeed at getting money back, it doesn’t cost the user a cent.
Automatically arguing for better deals, the platform last year saved customers a collective $2 million, and manages $500 million in debt to date.
The brainchild of CEO and founder Nami Baral, Harvest released a new “PRO Index” that builds a credit profile for each customer to pair with information from FICO scores. Harvest created the index to help lenders get better information and for customers to track their financial health. Baral hopes the data will help lenders find a reason to continue credit flowing to those who have hit hard times but still can make their payments.
“In the post-COVID recessionary environment, the creditworthiness of customers continues to plummet,” Baral said. “[Harvest] saw that traditional credit scores do not provide enough of a picture about a customer’s actual worthiness and potential.”
This announcement is not just a press release, but a continuation of the founding premise of Harvest: to help the average American overcome debt and build financial health.
Baral, a Nepali native, came to America during the last financial crisis on a scholarship to study ovarian cancer at Harvard medical school. Expecting the country to be a utopic economic powerhouse, Baral instead saw lost jobs, defaulting mortgages, and debt.
“In many ways, America is one of the most wonderful places in the world,” Baral said. “But at the time it was a complete departure from what I’d hoped the US to be, because what I saw was, people were losing their jobs, losing their homes in the financial crisis.”
She decided to work toward fixing the problems she saw, pivoting to study finance. Graduating with an applied math and economics degree, Baral then trained in investment banking. She worked on an auto-advocation software for a digital advertisement startup that was eventually bought by Twitter.
She had seen a company’s growth from IPO to merger and stayed at Twitter for four years. When she left, she began market research, talking to everyday Americans about what they needed to improve their finances.
“In those conversations with people from all over the US, Alaska, Oklahoma, San Francisco, New York everywhere,” Baral said, “I realized that the issues plaguing Americans in the last financial crisis had not gone away.”
Baral said these issues had intensified over this past decade. Incomes were volatile and stagnating, student loans had risen, and the people Baral talked too were getting more and more into debt.
“So I thought what the average American needs today is not another savings product, not yet another investment product,” Baral said. “But something that can help them reduce the debt that they have in their lives. That’s the genesis of Harvest.”
With the addition of the PRO Index, Baral is excited to offer another way Americans can maintain their financial health. She said that during the pandemic, every day could be a challenge for the average American, but the new platform can act as a barometer and compass.
“A lot can change between the time you extend a loan to the customer versus when they have to pay,” Baral said. “We call that Ability-to-pay as-a-service, and that’s where the PRO Index is used, determining: ‘is this customer still healthy? is my overall portfolio still healthy?'”
If the customer is no longer healthy, the info gathered to form the PRO Index, like transactional cash flow data, can supply lenders with information on improving their health. Baral says the platform encourages lenders to keep customers and shows borrowers how to improve their credit standing.Last modified: October 1, 2020
Kevin Travers was a Reporter at deBanked.