Exclusive: Synctera launches t-minus10, solving testing for unbanked fintech founders

Today, Synctera, an early-stage startup connecting community banks to fintech startups, has announced its latest product t-minus10 at Money 20/20. 

The platform allows fintech founders to build MVPs of their products with access to actual bank accounts and physical debit cards, solving what Peter Hazlehurst of Synctera says is the hardest problem in payments and banking: testing.

“If you’re just two people sitting in a conference room in WeWork thinking: ‘Hey I’ve got this great idea,’ no bank is gonna let you print a real debit card,” Hazlehurst told FinLedger. “So what we wanted to do is figure out a way to let it be possible for those two people to just come up with some great idea, test that they could build it, and build out an MVP with real users.”

To do this, Synctera has partnered with its own partner bank for t-minus10 (Hazlehurst did not disclose the bank), effectively loaning out its relationship to fintech founders who don’t have the cash, time, or network to find their own sponsor bank.

Furthermore, the platform allows for fintech founders and developers to test as they go, saving three to six months of beta testing time, according to Hazlehurst. 

And all the while, these same founders can build up their waitlist within Synctera’s ecosystem. For founders who are ready to launch, that waitlist gives them an opportunity to plug-and-play with its own sponsor bank through Synctera’s matchmaking process.

And with the waitlist functionality, Synctera helps solve two problems:

  1. Guarantee of first dollars for community banks. Through Synctera, founders have a one way track to tell community banks about their prospective demand with a waitlist. This sets the stage for community banks to understand how many resources they need to put behind a founder prior to launch, alleviating much of the guesswork that goes into partnering with a sponsor bank.
  2. Ability to execute. While community banks don’t exactly move fast, that doesn’t mean they want the fintech founders they partner with to be slow to execute. The faster founders are able to develop time within the Synctera platform, the more confidence a community banking partner can have in a founder’s ability to work effectively in a heavily regulated environment. 

T-minus10 platform is also a top-of-funnel strategy for Synctera. By capturing founders at their earliest stages, and pairing them up with Synctera’s community banking partners at launch, it is hard to imagine said fintech startup moving away from Synctera’s platform.

And in many ways, it’s a productization of Hazlehurst’s text messages, where he regularly lends his credibility to match up founders, investors and banking partners. However, as Hazlehurst put, “there are only so many cards you can throw.”

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