A fintech veteran directs the neobank towards musicians

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Fintech veteran John Waupsh has always found a way to nurture his passion for music. His latest business, a neobank called Nerve, combines his fintech expertise and love of music into a musically friendly banking service.

Waupsh, along with effort co-founder and chief technology officer Ben Morrison, plans to launch Austin, Texas-based Nerve next month. The platform, which will incorporate a customer waiting list over the next few months, is partnering with Piermont Bank to offer corporate debit and savings accounts insured by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

How it started

After an unsuccessful attempt to pay the bills as a DJ in college, Waupsh finally turned his passion for music to rare recordings and began to research music that had never been released before.

“I started collecting these acetates or reels in the hope that one day I could piece together these stories and give the musicians the ability to actually release this material and hopefully pay for it,” he said.

Waupsh, who spent 15 years at fintech service provider Kasasa, where he remains a strategic advisor, pursued his hobby throughout his career in fintech and eventually launched the Preservation Project, a boutique label dedicated to the release of rare funk and soul music.

He soon realized that the musicians he worked with needed access to a more paid audio and video streaming service than other services.

This led to the creation of Nerve.fm, a Waupsh streaming service that launched in beta in 2019.

While the platform has been well received by artists, Waupsh said he’s starting to notice an additional need in the space.

Nerve CEO John Waupsh

Authorization granted by Nerve

“While we were building it, we were constantly chatting with artists,” Waupsh said. “They were like, ‘This thing is really cool because it earns me more, but did you say you were in the bank? Can you build me a bank? “

Waupsh realized that many musicians, who struggle to access business bank accounts, often rely on their own personal checking accounts for their business deposits and expenses.

“This creates a number of challenges, from a data and tax reporting perspective,” he said. “This means that whatever entity they do banking with, whether it is a big bank, a credit union or a neobank, that entity is missing a very important part of it. history, because they don’t necessarily have all the payment data they need to make a good decision to lend to that person.

The tendency of musicians to mix up their finances and the lack of data can cause banks to issue higher rates on loans, Waupsh said.

While loans are still on-going for Nerve, Waupsh said his plan was to someday offer efficient, priced auto and touring loans to platform customers.

Aggregation of data

One of the features of Nerve, designed specifically for musicians, is the ability for users to view their business data in one place, Waupsh said.

The platform allows musicians to track their number of subscribers and views on accounts like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, as well as view their streaming data on Spotify.

“Users can access this data, which otherwise exists in a variety of other locations, in a secure manner that does not require the musician to give us their usernames and passwords,” Waupsh said. .

Artists can also connect with other musicians and pay them through the Nerve app.

“The features we have are much more focused on a professional musician who actually makes money for their music, compared to someone who maybe runs a start-up or has a business that mows lawns,” Waupsh said, comparing Nerve to other recently launched neobanks. years targeting the space of startups, freelancers or concert workers. “These are people who identify themselves first and foremost as musicians. They may have design or freelance work, but that’s just the way they pay certain bills.”

Waupsh said he hopes to bring the service to musicians around the world and plans to partner with banks outside of the United States to expand Nerve’s reach.

“We are very focused on the fact that musicians all over the world are facing the same challenges, and we would like to be able to provide the same services to people in other countries,” he said.

As Nerve seeks to expand its reach in the United States, Waupsh said one of its strategies is to partner with organizations that compensate musicians, such as performing rights organizations, festivals and music. concert halls.

“They all have payment costs when it comes to paying musicians,” he said. “Maybe the musician wants to get paid through PayPal or Venmo. What we’re doing is working with these vendors to give them a free payment solution for their artists who have Nerve accounts.”

Waupsh said he has had preliminary discussions with a number of these groups who have expressed interest in partnering with Nerve for payments.

“It would help this service organization because it would lower its costs, and it helps us from an account acquisition standpoint,” Waupsh said.

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