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Banking Economic Development Features

WSFS and Zenbanx introduce mobile global bank

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By Christi Milligan

Arkadi Kuhlmann

Arkadi Kuhlmann
Zenbanx founder and CEO

WSFS Financial Corp. and financial tech company Zenbanx announced the commercial launch of the first mobile, multi-currency solution for people who live, work or travel across borders.

WSFS Bank will be the official issuer of the Zenbanx account, which will allow customers to hold balances denominated in up to five of the nine currencies offered in a single account, exchange among currencies, and transfer funds domestically or internationally for a flat rate – all from their mobile, according to officials.

“We live in a diverse society now,” said Zenbanx founder and CEO Arkadi Kuhlmann, former founder and president of ING Direct Canada and USA, which was sold to Capital One in 2011.  “The people that need mobile banking are the people with family and business in other countries.”

Kuhlmann said Delaware embraced the online banking model a decade ago, and the state’s strategic location between Washington and New York City continues to make it ideal for growing business.

Calling financial business complicated and expensive, Kuhlmann said he began to look at changing the face of international banking through mobile, and hatched the idea for Zenbanx on the back of an envelope at the Charcoal Pit.

“Zenbanx is a bank for citizens of the world,” said Kuhlmann. “When you look at Astra Zeneca and DuPont and Dow – I think a company that specializes in a global bank account seems like a good idea for a state like Delaware. 

“People that have international connections need to be able to park money in different countries,” said Kuhlmann. “It’s about utility and usability.”

Incorporating the prevalence of social media, the account also allows users to send money with a note and photo attached, something Kuhlmann calls a Hallmark card on steroids.

“The idea is to get people not think about old-fashioned banking  – what you really want to do is share photos and pictures.”

Kuhlmann first launched Zenbanx in his native Canada this summer, where the service has attracted 18,000 customers.  He opened a second location in the Redwood City, California, and then joined forces with WSFS Bank.

The company plans to introduce 150 new Delaware jobs over the next several years at its Naamans Road location, in fields ranging from operations to marketing and legal.

WSFS Bank President and CEO Mark A. Turner said the partnership furthers the bank’s commitment to innovation for the customer.

“Our partnership with Zenbanx demonstrates how an entrepreneurial financial technology company and a well-regulated bank can work together to fill a void for consumers and ultimately deliver fulfilling jobs and a superior, safe and secure product for our communities,” said Turner.

“They have supported other startups and spun them off.  They have done that with us because of what they saw with ING direct and they’d like to support us as a Delaware company,” said Kuhlmann, of WSFS. “We will mutually learn from each other, make money together and they’re helping to build another company in Delaware.”

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