The former chief information officer of the New York Stock Exchange launched a super app Wednesday, intent on giving people the full picture of their finances — and making them feel good about it.
Rob Cornish, who is also the former chief technology officer of crypto exchange Gemini, has spent the last 18 months building Fierce.
“We call ourselves the Ted Lasso of finance,” Cornish said. “If you watch the show, you just feel good. You know, ‘we can do this, we believe.’ That's what we're trying to show, when there's all these other things going on in the world — you might have student loans or you might have something come up with your family — what we're trying to do is make you feel good about your finances.”
Through a partnership with Plaid, Fierce allows users to view the contents of all their bank accounts and investment accounts at once, thus creating a full picture of their net worth.
“That alone sometimes just gives you that feeling of like, ‘Yeah, I have this thing coming up, but I can handle it. I've been doing the right things, I've been putting in my 401K, I've been saving my cash, I can handle this.’ Then we also start to add different products that we feel really benefit the customer and help them get competence in their finances,” Cornish said.
He would know: Across savings, checking, 401Ks, 529 accounts for his kids, and others, he has 21 accounts linked to his Fierce app. Some may only have pennies in them, but he said it’s good to see them nonetheless.
Cornish hopes that those products — including Fierce Cash, an FDIC-insured checking account with an industry-leading 4.25% APY and a no-fee debit card white labeled for them from fintech-heavy Cross River Bank — entice Fierce app users to become bank and investment customers.
“We obviously hope that you'll then move [the funds in your external accounts] over to Fierce and consolidate those, so you can earn a great rate and use some of our products. But the main thing right now is focusing on people seeing that holistic view and getting confidence in their finances.”
Fierce users can also purchase shares of stocks and ETFs from the app, including fractional shares, and will be able to participate in Fully Paid Securities Lending, where they can earn passive income by lending their stocks. FPSL allows customers to earn additional income without additional effort, and customers can still trade shares at any time.
“That something has been done for decades, but only at the institutional level,” said Cornish. “And this is one of the ideas, when I saw the digital asset side people lending out I was like, ‘Okay, well, this is extreme,’ but we've been doing that for a long time on stock assets in a regulated way. Now we can offer that to retail customers.
“For instance, you own Amazon, and an institution wants to be able to borrow that for whether they're shorting the stock or whether they're taking a position in it, you can lend your stock out to them and earn interest [as long as borrowers have an appetite for it]. You can trade it 24/7 at any time, but you're able to capture that interest if you're able to do that for them. It’s great opportunity for people to earn a little extra on their stocks,” Cornish said.
According to Cornish, Fierce is focused on giving the average consumer the best tools available. Oftentimes, he noted, average consumers aren’t even aware that opportunities like earning interest in stocks exist.
“We're going to try to expose the … opportunities that only the elite few are aware of, and help [the average consumer] make their own decision [as to] if they want to use them,” Cornish said.
Features launching soon include the Fierce Rewards credit card, with 1.5% cash back on all spending, as well as regulated crypto trading. Cornish is, after all, an alum of Gemini, and he brought several others into Fierce’s fold: Phillip Hoffman, Gemini’s former head of technical program management, is chief operating officer; Lou Madia, Gemini’s former head of infrastructure, is chief informational security officer and vice president of infrastructure; and John Ryan, Gemini’s former enterprise architect, is Fierce’s chief architect.
The digital asset sector has had a rough year, given the laundry list of exchanges that went bankrupt in 2022. Trust in digital assets has taken a beating, and for a good reason: billions in customer assets are locked in Celsius, Voyager, FTX, and Cornish’s alma mater Gemini, and some of those assets may never be retrieved.
Still, Cornish has faith.
“I feel like digital assets are still the future of finance. It's just the ability for it to move anywhere in the world. Anyone in the world could participate, in our banking system, in our trading. I mean, you see it right now when people are trying to go across borders and they can't carry their cash because they get their cash taken from them, but they can hold their Bitcoin. All they need to do is remember a small phrase, a number of words, and that's all they need to be able to access their Bitcoin,” Cornish said. “The things I've learned is that we also need to protect our customers. You have to give them the right assets. We only ever plan on offering the top five or 10 digital assets that we believe have long term impact.”
Fierce’s launch was led by $10 million in seed funding, with funding Pendrell, AP Capital, Wheelhouse Digital Studios, Space Whale Capital and several angel investors, including International Securities Exchange founder and Chairman David Krell.
With this funding, Cornish plans to grow Fierce’s team from its current headcount of 18, grow its customer base, and launch new products, including personal loans, mortgages and insurance.
Offering multiple products allows Fierce to make money off several types of transactions, which is part of how it can offer such a high APY.
“Because we're building a super app, we're able to make a little bit off of each of the different products. For profit trading, we'll make a little bit off of some fees there, and then as we get into other products like insurance and loans, we'll make a little bit off of each one of those, rather than having to make a whole bunch off of any one of those individual products,” Cornish said.
Fierce launched Wednesday for iOS and will launch for Android later this year.