(coco) #1



Illustration BIG IDEA
by Jason Holley


The Cash

Tra p

A slew of consumer-
facing fintech startups
claim to address the
needs of lower-income
Americans. But in
Silicon Valley, as in Vegas,
the house always wins.

Qwatasia has a full-time job as
a fraud analyst in Dallas, where
she works the third shift—
5 p.m. to 2 a.m.—Monday through
Friday. But she finds it difficult to
live on her salary. Sometimes, she’s
short on rent as she waits for her
next paycheck to hit.
Qwatasia got a flat tire a few
months ago. In the past, she might
have put the $187 she needed to
fix it on a credit card reserved for
emergencies. But this time, she
had another option: a cash ad vance
from Dave, a banking app devel-
oped by a Silicon Valley startup
that endears itself to users with
help from its cartoon mascot, a
bespectacled bear.
“Dave helped me out, because
I could set a date when I would
pay him back,” Qwatasia tells
me—then corrects herself. “Pay
the app back.” She adds, “I’m the
type of person who doesn’t like to
ask family. You’ve got to stand on
your own two feet.”
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