Nickels Selected for Village Capital’s Finance Forward 2020 Accelerator Program

Author Nickels
Read time 3 minutes read time

Ann Arbor, MI (August 6, 2020) – Village Capital today announced that Nickels was selected as one of the eleven early-stage fintech startups to take part in Finance Forward US 2020. An accelerator program, Finance Forward US 2020 will provide Nickels and the other startups with a total of 16 weeks of online programming. The program will focus on improving the startups’ business models and making their solutions available to those who need them most in the current economic climate.

Nickels is very excited to be a part of the program and sees a real opportunity to scale its solution across credit unions and banks to help their customers manage their federal student debt. Nickels CEO Joseph Gracia said, “Federal student debt is the largest debt category facing adults under 30 today and it’s by far the most problematic when you look at delinquency and default rates. Financial institutions have historically ignored this debt as they don’t hold the loans, but they’re now realizing that this debt is directly undermining their customers financial health and impacting their business in the process.” It’s not only the right thing to do, but by improving their customers’ financial health, credit unions and banks can unlock more business opportunities with their customers in the process.

With federal student loan payments now largely suspended until the end of the year, roughly 40 million Americans are now going to face a payment cliff immediately after the holidays. “Suspending federal student loan payments and setting interest rates to 0% was the right call in response to the economic turmoil caused by this pandemic, but policymakers don’t seem to appreciate the behavioral barriers they’re setting up for student borrowers. Payments will now restart right after the distractions and economic strain of the holidays.” said Nickels CEO. “On top of that, we’re seeing that after 9 months of non-payment, most Americans have forgotten to factor this debt into their monthly budget, which matters because many have had their income dramatically reduced due to the pandemic.”

Nickels’ service gives credit unions and banks a way to support their customers with their federal student debt, offering triggered emails and text messages that let borrowers know when they need to act to keep their loans in good standing. Like a good guide dog, Nickels stands by customers, continuously monitoring their student loans and alerting users when action is needed. Nickels web app then supports users through every phase of the repayment process, helping to ensure that borrowers’ debt stays in good standing so that they can improve their credit score and have greater access to the financial services we all need in life.

Finance Forward US 2020 is a part of a multi-year global coalition led by founding partners MetLife Foundation and PayPal to support entrepreneurs building tech-enabled solutions to challenges around financial health.

Each startup selected for the accelerator will work closely with mentors representing potential customers, partners, advisors, and investors they need to scale their impact using tools developed to help their self-evaluation, such as Village Capital’s Abaca. The top five peer-selected companies will be eligible to share $150,000 USD each in grant funding from MetLife Foundation.

About Village Capital

Village Capital helps entrepreneurs bring big ideas from vision to scale. Our mission is to reinvent the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Our vision is a future where business creates equity and long-term prosperity. Since 2009, we have supported more than 1,000 early-stage entrepreneurs through our investment readiness programs. Our affiliated fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in more than 100 program graduates, including 8 early-stage US fintech companies like Vault, Fig Loans, and Finix.