US challenger Bella plans launch around conversational banking
Conversational banking has itself a new challenger in Bella, a US-based firm promising “compelling AI messaging technology”.
The entrant wants to offer coordinated checking and savings accounts. Like many up and coming new banks in the US, it offers no maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirements.
Its unique offering is a “karma account” through which users can accrue points towards gifts for other Bella customers.
It says the karma account is “a secure, random, and fun way to create more love in the world”.
Bella promises prospective users the ability to customise their accounts with photos and hashtags. It plans to issue a contactless Visa debit card compatible with Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Google Pay.
It plans to base its approach around a conversational banking interface named Socratex.
“Socratex combines the highest efficiency of software with the empathy of people to deliver a fast, intuitive way to complete day-to-day banking transactions,” Bella writes on its site.
Partners and cashback
Bella already has a banking partner in Kansas-based nbkc bank, which supplies its accounts and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance.
According to the challenger, its accounts are insured up to $5 million per member. This is much higher than the usual $250,000 figure. Bella says this is down to “relationships” it has with nbkc and other FDIC banks.
As an extra incentive, Bella says customers could be “randomly” rewarded with between 5 and 200% cashback when they use their card.
Bella is the brainchild of former Unicredit exec, Angelo D’Alessandro. While at Unicredit, he launched the bank’s mobile-only offshoot buddybank.
D’Alessandro also works as senior vice president for conversational banking at LivePerson, an AI technology firm. LivePerson provides the Socratex system Bella uses.
D’Alessandro’s co-founder at Bella is Chelsea Kim, who worked with him at conversational AI firm LivePerson between 2019 and October 2020. She left as head of operations for banking and consumer services.