Cushion, a leader in bank and credit card fee negotiation, announced today that it has raised $12 million in Series A funding. The funding will enable Cushion to hire talent across product, engineering, data analytics, and marketing as it readies its bill pay solution for a general audience after months of beta testing. The already talented team includes former leaders from Twitter, Bill.com, Square, and Credit Karma, as well as several PhDs working on the machine learning side of the product. The round was led by Rose Park Advisors, with participation from Flourish Ventures, Vestigo Ventures, TSEF, Green Cow Venture Capital, and CMFG Ventures Discovery Fund.
“We’ve built a reputation for being a capital-efficient team that makes big bets, solves difficult problems, and puts forward solutions that are orders of magnitude better than competing offerings,” said Paul Kesserwani, founder and CEO of Cushion. “Over the past decade, we’ve seen e-commerce get optimized to death. It has become easier and easier to shop online, automatically apply a coupon at checkout, buy now and pay later. But paying bills, the very thing keeping the lights on, is fundamentally broken in this country. Cushion’s goal is to make sure consumers never miss a bill payment ever again.”
An expanded roster of team roles will push Cushion closer to launching the streamlined bill payment solution. The new product offering is eagerly awaited by more than 100,000 current customers and has an additional six-figure waitlist.
“Bill pay has been on Cushion’s radar since day one, but the pandemic made one thing very clear: Consumers need a solution sooner rather than later,” said Emily Onimus, Product Operations Manager at Cushion. “Our support team has been in the trenches with customers fighting tooth and nail to refund bank fees so that people can get by during these hard times. Unfortunately, being on the front lines, we’ve seen the devastating financial hardships our customers have endured over the past two years. Enough is enough. It’s time for Cushion to step in here and make things a bit easier for them.”
Cushion’s solution reimagines the bill payment experience as a single place to manage, pay and finance bills, allowing customers to track bills, avoid late fees and overdrafts, and borrow money when needed — all while paying just one biller, Cushion. In turn, it will also provide customers with the opportunity to build their credit scores.
“Having the ability to connect your banks to Cushion and find all of your recurring bills waiting for you when you arrive — that’s pretty magical,” said Ian Tibbetts, Engineering Manager at Cushion. “You get this feeling that your bills are finally under control. We’ve spent years building trust with our customers. Now that we’re allowing them to pay their bills with us, and build their credit in the process, they feel confident knowing that we have their backs, that we can provide a level of security between them and their finances.”
Cushion’s bill pay offering will be in addition to its already successful fee negotiation product that refunded consumers over $10 million in a single year during the height of the pandemic. As pioneers of automated bank fee negotiation, the team is armed with over one billion transactions, a roster of top-tier fintech VCs and angel investors, and experience shipping, monetizing, and scaling solutions.
“We’re sitting on a mountain of data that we’ve accumulated over the past five years,” said Tom Angsten, Machine Learning Lead at Cushion. “Using this data, we’ve trained machine learning models that initially have allowed us to uncover customers’ sneaky bank and credit card fees. But now, as we expand into bill pay, we’ve focused on developing models that can automatically find people’s recurring bills for them and populate a bill center with rich information immediately after onboarding. Our system even identifies which bills have been paid, which are overdue, which are at risk, and more.”
Bill pay will allow Cushion to tackle the foundational issue causing consumers to acquire fees in the first place, providing a way for them to successfully pay their bills on time, in full, and fee-free.
“Two-thirds of consumer bills – totaling almost five times e-commerce spend in the United States – are paid manually and one at a time. We are thrilled to partner with the Cushion team to connect consumers and billers in a new and innovative way and give millions of individuals newfound confidence in their financial lives,” said Chris Calder, Principal at Rose Park Advisors.