Success Story

Fair Square Financial

Fintech startup is new leader in the Delaware lending industry

With Wilmington’s nickname as the “credit card capital of the world,” it’s no surprise that the Delaware city is home to the nation’s new up-and-coming startups in banking and finance. In fact, ourlegacy of high-tech entrepreneurs and financially-savvy talent aretaking advantage of this robust industry cluster, helping bring the next wave of fintech innovation to Delaware.

That’s the story behind Fair Square Financial, a Wilmington-basedcompanyled by CEO Rob Habgood, a long-timeveteran of the credit card industry, who spent more than two decades at corporate firms like Bank of America and CapitalOne. Incorporated in 2016, the company is best known for its competitive brand of transparentand low-fee Ollo credit card products that are aimed at Americans not adequately served by major financial brands.

Bringing Innovation to Consumer Lending

To differentiate itself in the existing credit card market, Fair Square leverages big data and machine-learning algorithms to incorporate hundreds of data points to assess individual customer credit risk. That’s great news for people with historically low credit scores, as the company doesn’t believe a financial credit score is always an accurate gauge of the ability to qualify for credit. Instead, Fair Square believes that its model offers a more comprehensive and technologically-advanced assessment of credit risk.

As of 2018, Fair Square has lent MasterCard holders more than $400 million, welcoming customers to the market with clear and simple products that grow with them as well as streamlined digital services, including online credit education.

High-Value Investment and Talent in Delaware

Fair Square is a prime example of the wealth of investment opportunities in Delaware. In 2018, Fair Square received a $100 million investment from Vikram Pandit, former CEO of Citigroup, and his investment firm, the Orogen Group, which saw enormous potential in the company. Prior to that, the company secured a $200 million investment from financial services-focused private equity firm Pine Brook as well as an $800,000 grant from the State of Delaware.

Today, the company operates in a downtown Wilmington co-working space, not far from the city’s longstanding financial industry giants, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclay, Capital One, Discover and more. With increased funding under its belt, the company hopes to increase its workforce to more than 100 employees in the next two years, effectively doubling its current employee count. Ultimately, that’s a good sign for Fair Square’s growth trajectory, considering Habgood believes his staff’s expertise will continue to drive the company’s innovation. For instance, Fair Square’s executive team has several decades of diverse credit card experience combined.

The Future of Fintech in Delaware

Based on his success, Habgood also believes that more industry executives and entrepreneurs will continue to turn to new ventures like Fair Square, in part thanks to the innovation opportunities and energetic feeling emerging enterprises offer compared to large, traditional corporate banks.

That’s a positive outlook for the industry overall. With Delaware’s financial services industry serving as our state’s largest generator of economic activity, it’s clear that Fair Square and its band of revolutionary new financial services ventures will continue to be positioned for success in the First State.

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