By Zac Cornell
NBA star Russell Westbrook has announced a major investment in Varo Bank, an all-digital neobank that was founded in 2017. Russell Westbrook Enterprises led the new round of a $63 million investment in the company. Westbrook will also serve as an advisor for the Bank’s programs targeting underserved communities to address financial inequality.
Varo secured regulatory approval from the FDIC and Federal Reserve in 2020 to become the first all-digital nationally chartered bank. With no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements as well as high interest savings and a large network of free ATMs, the bank views itself as a mission-driven national bank and plans to work with Westbrook to strengthen banking relations in Aftican American and minority communities.
Westbrook explained his rationale for his investment saying, “The banking system has ignored or underserved a large portion of the American population — particularly communities of color. I’m passionate about making lasting social change and creating a stronger and more inclusive system.” He continued, “I am excited and ready to work with Varo to be a part of an economic revitalization for those who never had the access they deserved,” he added.
Varo and Westbrook will work to increase financial literacy through a community impact program. The social-impact focused bank sees itself as a force for good and is committed to benefits like savings accounts that offer higher rates than normal, two-day early payroll deposits, and short term cash advance of up to $100 through the Varo Advance program.
Varo Bank currently has over 3 million bank accounts and has seen a 900% increase in deposits year-over-year. There is a growing number of all-digital banks in the United States offering a new modern way to do banking.
Westbrook launched his Russell Westbrook Foundation in 2012 to target at-risk communities with programs focused on education, workforce development, mental health access, and family service.