FinLab 2018 Challenge

Improving financial health in America

If you have an innovative product that can improve the financial health of people in America, we want to hear from you.

The 2018 Challenge

Most people in America continue to struggle financially. This group is larger than just the “unbanked” or “underbanked.” Despite continued low unemployment and modest wage growth, fifty-seven percent of all American adults — approximately 138 million U.S. consumers — are financially unhealthy. They struggle to manage their day-to-day financial lives, do not have a sufficient cushion to weather a financial shock, and lack a path towards financial security.

CFSI’s 2017 Financially Underserved Market Size Study found that underserved Americans spent $173 billion in fees and interest in 2016 on financial products and services. This represents a massive market opportunity for new innovation to better meet the needs of the financially underserved in ways that improve their financial health.

For this year’s challenge, we remain focused on identifying a broad range of new solutions to improve consumer financial health in the United States. And we are looking for products that have the potential to scale to millions of users. Given the diversity of Americans who struggle with their financial health, we believe the best products resonate with broad and heterogeneous populations. Accordingly, we continue to support and encourage diversity in solutions, customer focus, and founding teams.

57% of U.S. households are struggling with their financial health, according to CFSI’s Consumer Financial Health Study.
Nearly half of adults say they either could not cover an emergency expense costing $400, or would cover it by selling something or borrowing money, according to the Fed.

Serving the underserved

Financial health comes about when a person’s daily financial systems help build resilience and provide the foundation to pursue opportunities.

Industry research, including CFSI’s, shows that several demographic groups suffer from poor financial health at greater rates than the overall U.S. population. This year, we will again highlight the unique challenges facing a number of communities in our country, as well as topic areas we think are especially in need of innovation. We continue to believe technology has the promise to extend and improve financial services in new and transformative ways.

If you have a product that is leveraging technology to improve the financial health of those that have been hardest to reach, we especially encourage you to apply to the Lab.

Applications are now closed.

Feel free to explore our website to learn more about our program, our first three classes of companies, and ideas we’re blogging about.

Visit our FAQs, Legal page, and this blog post for more details about our application process.

Sign up for updates on future challenges.

2017 Challenge

57% of U.S. households are struggling with their financial health. In 2017 we sought innovative solutions to this pressing issue.


2016 Challenge

81% of Americans face a financial shock every year. In 2016, we looked for innovations that helped Americans weather financial shocks.

2015 Challenge

More than 100 million Americans struggle to manage cash flow, and our challenge in 2015 was to find innovators working to find solutions that can solve this problem — making financial health a reality for more Americans.

Let us know what's on your mind.