Meet Kathleen Pierce-Gilmore. She’s the ex-PayPal executive that left her high-flying job to become the COO and President of a gift-card marketplace start-up. The company, Raise, recently gained $60 million in funding. And, Pierce-Gilmore thinks it’s a great way to disrupt the banking industry.
Pierce-Gilmore has a background working for some major financial companies, before PayPal she had worked for American Express and Capital One. But she’s seen first-hand, what credit card debts can do to people with low-finance.
In fact, Pierce-Gilmore herself grew up below the poverty line. She told Business Insider, “Capital One serves some of the most vulnerable people in America. I learned during my time there that a lot of people that worked there didn’t have a deep appreciation of how their products impacted their customer’s lives.”
She no longer wanted to be part of a company that could lead to customer-debt. Instead, she joined Raise because of the no credit aspect. Raise’s gift cards are prepaid and there is no opportunity for customers to spend money that they don’t have.
How Does Raise Work?
The company was founded in 2013, by CEO George Bousis and it started as a marketplace where individuals could buy and sell unused gift cards at a discounted rate.
But now, big brands use Raise too, and they sell gift cards on the site for less than their cash value. Dunkin’ Donuts sell their gift cards with a 19% discount, while other’s like Amazon choose to give buyers a 1.1% discount.
It’s great idea, for example, if you are having the squad around and you know you’ll be ordering dinner from Dominos. You can visit Raise, and buy a $30 Dominos gift card for 10.5% less. You’ll save $3.11. I know that doesn’t sound much, but if you apply this technique to every purchase your savings are sure to grow.
Pierce-Gilmore now has plans to make Raise a go-to for all shoppers. She hopes the app will become as natural to users as scrolling through Amazon. She says, “We’re in a unique position. We’re not hurting anyone, only helping.”
The Raise app can also help users stay in charge of their budget. It’s a good way no to over-spend, as you know you only have a limited amount on each gift card to spend at a particular retailer.
Another perk of the company is that users can avoid the high transaction fees that come with processing credit card payments.
And Pierce-Gilmore even admits that she is getting addicted to seeing how much money she can save through the app. “I’m already finding my own addiction driving my own behavior,” she said. “Every time I am trying to buy something, I look in the category that I am going to shop in.”
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