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A wise, vocally gifted woman once sang that she believes the children are our future, and it is our duty to teach them well, as well as let them lead the way. Whitney was spot on, given the fact that this little screen-watching, app-downloading, snot goblins will be the ones in charge of running the show when you and I are no longer capable of manning the fort. It would serve the oncoming generation well to have some semblance of understanding in terms of several basic skills every person should know. First of all, health, above all else, should be a person’s number-one priority, followed by enjoying one’s life, and lastly, a general know-how of how to use, and/or save, money. 

Mo’ Debt, Mo’ Problems 

If you’ve seen any newspaper this past year, or Facebook sidebar featuring kitschy headlines, then you must know that millennials are complaining about being ridden with debt they never asked for. Avoiding the obvious argument that millennials blame and never take ownership, there is some element of truth to what they are saying. 

In in the modern, capitalistic world we reside in, cash is becoming an archaic form of currency, overshadowed by the hallowed credit/debit card. According to a 2017 survey conducted by CNBC, 50% of respondents said they carry cash with them less than half of the time when they are out, and if they do, 76% said they keep less than $50 on hand. This trend has driven consumers to shift towards the use of debit cards, and because millennials were somehow never taught the difference between a debit and credit card, they have used these plastic demons to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. 

Cash Me If You Can’t 

Well, it wouldn’t be America if someone didn’t start a company in response to the misfortunes of thousands of people, and a new mobile banking startup called Step wants to assist the next  generation in understanding the value of a dollar. 

The Company, founded by CJ MacDonald and Alexey Kalinichenko, former execs from the mobile gift card platform Gyft, started Step to help the nearly 75 million children and young adults under the age of 21 in the U.S., who are burdened by having to use cash for all their purchases.

“Step” is banking on (apologies for the pun) the youthful spirit of todays’ teenagers who are hot to buy items on Amazon.com or purchase in-app downloads on their smartphones but are too young to have a debit/credit card. Step CEO Macdonald says the market for the startup isn’t based on the “unbanked,” it’s the “pre-banked.” 

“We’re building an all-in-one banking solution that primarily focuses on teens and parents. We want it to be a teen’s first bank account. We want to be a teen’s first spending card. And we want to teach financially literacy and responsibility firsthand.”

CJ MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Step

Step has managed to garner significant interest from several venture capital firms over the past year, having closed on nearly $4 million in seed funding from Sesame Ventures, Crosslink Capita, and Collaborative Fund, according to TechCrunch. 

Whereas other startups like Current or the parent-managed debit card for kids from Greenlight, Step strives to be more than just a way for teenagers to purchase “skins” on Fortnite.

The Company’s founders recognized that kids receive no formal education in school on how to save money, earn money, or any element of the functionality of currency in society. MacDonald says that “it’s a crucial life skill that’s not really addressed properly when people are growing up. There were ‘Money 101’ skills that I had not learned — that no one had talked to me about.” 

MacDonald’s reasoning for creating Step will hopefully resonate with millions of young Americans struggling to understand thinks like building credit, how many credit cards you should or shouldn’t have, “debt to income ratio,” and countless other fiscal lessons that have seemed to fall to the wayside. 

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