There’s a new banking service on the market, and its name is Bella.
At first glance, Bella looks like pretty much any other digital banking startup. Users receive a debit card that works on the Visa network and is compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. There are no foreign transaction fees, no account minimums and no service fees. And all accounts are FDIC insured for up to $5 million.
Bella’s key differentiator is its mission: to put people ahead of profits, injecting compassion into an industry that is often reduced to cold, unfeeling numbers. With empathy at its core, co-founder and CEO Angelo D’Alessandro believes Bella will be a “game changer” for the banking industry.
“We want to be there for our members 24/7, no matter what. Solving problems, being there, and treating them as family members, not just as customers. We’re not talking about checking account numbers, but human beings,” D’Alessandro told Built In. “We believe in compassion, we believe in sharing and helping people, and also having fun with banking functionality.”
Bella does this through a variety of features, the first of which is called the Karma account. Users can deposit up to $20 into a personal Karma account, which can then be used to cover a purchase for another Bella user. These two people don’t even have to know each other. The idea is to “pay it forward,” whether that means covering a stranger’s coffee purchase or a friend’s grocery run.
As for savings accounts, users can open as many as they want and even set up special rules. For instance, you can elect to put some money aside when it’s sunny out, or if your favorite sports team wins.
Bella is also introducing a randomized cashback program, which means users can randomly get between 5 to 200 percent cashback on anything they purchase with their Bella card, whether that’s a stick of gum or an airline ticket.
The company plans to give $1 million in cash back in its next four weeks on the market, starting November 30. D’Alessandro says the goal of the push — instead of marketing to new customers — is to keep current customers happy, with the hope that those people will tell their friends and Bella will become popular through word of mouth.
Looking ahead, D’Alessandro hopes to take Bella beyond banking, adding more services and functionalities over the next several years that will allow it to “compete with the greatest AI services in the world.”
In the meantime, he says the company is looking to grow its team and is hiring for a variety of roles ranging from product to marketing to security.
“We believe that Bella could become something pretty big,” D’Alessandro said. “That means we need a pretty big team and great talent to help us scale.”