Cheese, the digital bank focused on serving the Asian American community officially released on Wednesday. The neobank provides its own debit card and is available to anyone, even those without a credit history.
CEO Ken Lian came to the United States from China in 2008 to attend college. In the years following his move, Lian said he paid thousands of dollars in bank fees and got rejected “multiple times” for basic bank accounts, even with a FICO score over 800. These experiences ultimately led him to come up with the concept behind Cheese.
Lian founded Cheese along with co-founders Zhen Wang and Qingyi Li based on the premise that Asian-Americans are often subject to discrimination and “an unequal playing field” in the United States.
In a statement to TechCrunch, Lian said, “[Cheese] understands Asian users much better than anybody else because we are the user. [Traditional] banking didn’t understand me or my culture or my lifestyle or what matters to me. Our needs are different.”
“A lot of challenger banks also never focused on Asian communities and immigrants,” he added. “We want to provide a great product to welcome these people to the U.S. and make it easy for them to bank.”
Beyond the innovation, Lian and his team are also pledging $100,000 to the Cheese Giveback fund. The proceeds will be donated to nonprofits and community programs that battle the violence, racism, and economic struggles Asian Americans are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.