Finance and Assets

Banking on Change

December 17, 2020  • Aspen Ideas Now

Is an all-digital bank better suited to address systemic barriers to building wealth in America? Varo made history this summer as the first digital bank to gain a US national bank charter. Founder and CEO Colin Walsh says Varo is a mission-oriented, data-driven member of the FDIC and has the dependability of an old banking institution, with the agility of a Silicon Valley tech company. He speaks with Maya Chorengel, co-managing partner of The Rise Fund, an early supporter of Varo. How are the bank’s services — like early access to paychecks, short-term lending, and credit improvement programs — meeting heightened customer needs throughout the pandemic? In what ways is Varo leveraging customer data to inform new products and designing them for the way we live? Presented by The Rise Fund.

Colin Walsh is the CEO and co-founder of Varo Money, the first consumer fintech to be granted a bank charter in US history. Colin founded Varo with a specific vision: to help millions of people improve their financial lives.

Colin is uniquely positioned to lead the digital bank revolution and has more than 25 years of experience in consumer banking at large global financial institutions. He led Europe’s largest credit and charge card business as an Executive Vice President at American Express.  Colin also led the UK’s largest mortgage and savings businesses at Lloyds Banking Group, and served as Managing Director for the firm’s retail bancassurance, credit, debit and merchant acquiring businesses.

Varo is a new kind of digital bank, one that’s wholly designed around consumers looking for a better way to bank and a partner in their financial health.  From No Fee Overdraft, the first-ever service of its kind to remove fees on overdrafts, to instant peer to peer payments, a high yield savings account, and amazing Utah-based customer service – Varo is a better alternative to traditional brick and mortar banks. As a digitally native chartered bank, Varo’s more efficient, tech-driven model offers premium banking services that put real money back in the hands of everyday consumers and their communities. In the future, there will be banks and there will be Varo.

Maya Chorengel is a Co-Managing Partner at The Rise Fund, the world’s largest, global impact platform committed to achieving measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns. Founded by TPG in partnership with Bono and Jeff Skoll, and with more than $5 billion in assets under management, Rise invests in growth-stage, high potential, mission-driven companies that have the power to change the world. A longtime impact, private equity and venture capital investor, Maya also leads financial services and fintech investing for Rise globally and is a key architect of the fund’s impact methodology and assessment process.

Prior to joining TPG, Maya was a co-founder of Elevar Equity, a leading impact venture capital firm with a track record of top quartile financial returns and meaningful impact on over 20 million low-income households in Asia and Latin America. Prior to Elevar, Maya was Managing Director of the Dignity Fund, a private investment fund focused on local currency debt financing for high-growth microfinance institutions globally. She began her investing career at Warburg Pincus in New York, Hong Kong and Menlo Park.

Maya serves as a Director of EverFi, Varo Bank, Nithio, SEO, Kiva and GloboKasNet. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative and CASE i3 at Duke University, and co-authored a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Calculating the Value of Impact Investing.” Maya earned an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.