How Vola Finance Enables Faster Disbursements with Lithic

Vola Finance makes it easy for users to manage their finances and build their credit profile.

Tushar Bagamane and Jose Bazbaz had trouble building up their own credit history during college. After graduation, they surveyed college students in Missouri and Florida and discovered that many students were struggling to pay off bills between paychecks. In fact, many were even taking out payday loans with 300–400% interest in APR.

In direct response, they decided to launch Vola to help students:

  1. Manage their finances
  2. Avoid expensive overdraft fees
  3. Build their credit score
  4. Access interest-free advances

The result: a personal finance app that helps users access wage advances, track expenses, and avoid overdraft fees with the no-fee Vola Card.

After seeing initial traction with students, Tushar and Jose raised $2.7 million in venture capital to expand to other markets. They used this money to grow the business and open the app to anyone interested in better managing their finances.

Today, Vola has over 500,000 users and is growing 15% Month-over-Month.

Challenge

Vola originally used ACH transfers to facilitate its earned wage access offering, but the settlement times made it difficult for users to quickly access funds if they requested them on a weekend. To solve this, Vola decided to shift to tokenized digital cards.

The top vendors where Vola users spend their funds are Venmo, Uber, Uber Eats, Apple, Target, Walmart, and Starbucks — all companies that accept digital payments. It made sense to use virtual and tokenized cards in order to offer their users greater speed and convenience.

Additionally, implementing cards would enable Vola to earn revenue from interchange — something ACH couldn’t provide.

Shifting from ACH to cards also helped them avoid having to transfer funds to users’ bank accounts, although Vola still offers ACH transfers to users who prefer it. Avoiding these delays was also a key benefit over physical cards because users can instantly access their card through the app without having to wait for a physical card to arrive in the mail.

Once they knew what they needed, they began looking for a card processor partner.

Evaluation

Vola had three considerations for choosing a card processor:

  • Startup-friendly
  • Fast and smooth integration
  • Transparent pricing and clear communication

For Vola, Lithic checked all of these boxes.

“The Lithic team understood our needs and provided us with options that added clear value. The leadership was nimble and time was a big factor.”

He also liked that Lithic’s client dashboard and activity summary reports made it easy for his team to monitor the card program and manage operations.

Solution

Vola uses Lithic’s platform to issue virtual cards and tokenized cards. While these products may sound similar, they have key differences:

  • Virtual cards transact directly with the card’s permanent account number (PAN). They are the fastest and easiest card to issue but can’t be embedded in digital wallets.
  • Tokenized cards work similarly to virtual cards, but they transact with tokens that conceal the card’s PAN to protect users from fraud. Unlike virtual cards, these cards can also be embedded in mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Samsung Wallet, and Google Wallet.

Implementation

Implementing Lithic only took about 6 weeks, surpassing Bagamane’s expectations. As small issues arose along the way, they were quickly resolved, and Bagamane was especially happy with how smooth the experience was for his users.

“Lithic helped us bring a solution to market in an accelerated time frame. That allowed us to focus on tailoring the product for our user base while Lithic handled the complexities of the backend.”

Incorporating cards into Vola’s strategy proved a smart move, as the tap-to-pay potential exponentially increased usability of the cards and, as a result, increased their interchange revenue.

Results

“Vola has grown over 15% month over month since the integration with Lithic. The partnership and product expansion has definitely helped with this.”

Integrating with Lithic has helped Vola better serve its customers and increase revenue. In turn, Vola has achieved some impressive results for its users:

  • Saved users over $25 million in overdraft fees
  • Helped 22.8% of its users establish a credit score for the first time
  • Improved customer credit scores by an average of 53 points

Vola plans to use its interchange revenue to fund customer rewards and continue building their customer loyalty. Bagamane also foresees the company pursuing merchant partnerships to offer coupons and Buy Now Pay later (BNPL) options.