Slideshow Nine Apps to Help the Underbanked Take Control of Their Finances

  • July 06 2015, 9:00am EDT
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At this year's EMERGE Forum in Austin, Texas, the Financial Solutions Lab — a $30 million, five-year initiative managed by the Center for Financial Services innovation with founding partner JPMorgan Chase — revealed the winners of a recent competition for apps that tackle consumers' cash flow challenges. The nine winning organizations, chosen from 298 applicants and 14 finalists, received a combined $3 million, along with mentorship, networking, peer learning and national partnership opportunities. The following is a look at their solutions to the problems of the working poor and others ill-served by traditional financial products.

Smoothing Out the Lumps

Even, based in Oakland, Calif. turns inconsistent income of hourly and part-time workers (such as baristas, ridesharing drivers or freelancers) into a steady salary by saving money from above-average paychecks, and boosting low paychecks automatically. Rather than interest, it charges a flat fee of $3.

Pictured: Quinten Farmer, co-founder of Even

Related Article: Startup Pitches 'Insurance for Paychecks' as Payday Alternative

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More Carrot, Less Stick

Ascend, which originates personal loans, offers an optional incentive program that rewards the borrower by lowering interest payments for positive financial behaviors like decreasing credit card spending and increasing savings.

Pictured: Steve Carlson, co-founder/CEO of Ascend

Mobile Money Management

Prism is a bill payment and management app that helps people manage their personal finances by giving them a platform to review, manage and pay their bills for free, wherever and whenever they like.

Pictured: Tyler Griffin, co-founder/CEO of Prism

Taking Some of the Friction Out of Divorce

SupportPay is an automated payment platform that enables divorced parents to share child expenses and exchange child support directly with each other, keeping financial tensions away from the children.

Pictured: Sheri Atwood, founder/CEO of Support Pay

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Pocket Planner

PayGoal, developed by the nonprofit Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, helps underserved workers improve the allocation of wages toward their financial goals using a guided mobile experience.

Pictured: Eric Cantor, VP Product Development of PayGoal

Saving Without Thinking

Digit is an automated savings tool with a text-based user interface that uses an intelligent algorithm to identify small amounts of money that can be moved from checking into savings based on spending habits.

Pictured: Ethan Bloch, founder/CEO of Digit

Related Link: No Thinking Required: Mobile's New Spin on Personal Finance

Fresh Start

LendStreet is a marketplace lending platform that helps borrowers refinance old debt and rebuild their financial lives. Investors can buy the loan at a discount.

Pictured: Jerry Nemorin, founder/CEO of LendStreet

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Food Stamps Simplified

Propel's technology eases the food stamp application process by streamlining the initial enrollment form, eliminating the hassle of submitting paper documents, and providing a phone-friendly database.

Pictured: Jimmy Chen, founder/CEO of Propel

Circle of Trust

Based on the accumulated savings and credit association model that has worked offline in the developing world, Puddle is a platform for reputation-based borrowing, available to anyone in the U.S. with a debit card. Users gain access to a shared pool of capital by contributing funds and building reputation with others they trust.

Pictured: Skylar Woodward, co-founder/CEO of Puddle