Digital Banking Startup Business First Boulevard Raises $5 Million in Seed Funding From Investors

By James White Saturday, March 6, 2021

In an effort to provide the Black community with the proper financial support it needs, entrepreneurs Asya Bradley and Donald Hawkins launched startup business First Boulevard, a neobank startup company with the ambition to allow Black Americans to “take control of their finances, build wealth, and reinvest in the Black economy.” The digital banking startup company recently garnered $5 million in seed funding from investors for the business.

A man using a tablet in his office.

“After viewing yet another tragedy engulf the Black community, and the all-too-familiar protests against persisting issues, it was beyond clear to me that the solutions Black America needs must be financially focused and developed within our community,” said Hawkins, CEO of the startup business.

The seed funding round was led by Anthemis Group and Barclays Ventures. Anthemis Group is an investment firm committed to building “one of the world’s leading diversified financial services company with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as a blueprint for the economy.” Barclays Ventures is the investment arm of the global financial services company Barclays.

Building Wealth in Black Communities

“History has proven that oppressed communities can succeed when their finances are centralized, and when it comes to financial services for the Black community, a centralizing force is long overdue,” Hawkins said.

First Boulevard aims to offer a convenient digital banking platform for those looking to manage their finances, but also seeks to recirculate and build wealth within Black communities. The startup company sports a unique Cash Back For Buying Black™ program, which allows users banking with the business to earn up to 15% back on purchases made at participating Black-owned businesses.

Hawkins and Bradley’s startup company has already partnered with Visa and plans to launch a Visa Debit card in addition to pioneering Visa’s cryptocurrency APIs.

“Visa is the payments industry leader and we wanted to ensure the Black community had access to the best solutions available,” Hawkins said. “From the beginning of our conversations with Visa, it was clear they were distinctly aligned with our vision of bridging the gap between assets like Bitcoin and our community.”

Digital Banking on the Rise

Market research suggests that the global digital banking market will reach $10.87 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2020 to 2027.

First Boulevard intends to break into the market with a business uniquely focused on building wealth in the Black community. Other companies, like Greenwood, co-founded by Michael Render (aka “Killer Mike” of Run The Jewels), are also sprouting up to support a similar cause. These startup neobanks intend to support their communities by tapping into the estimated $1.4 trillion in spending power exerted by Black Americans.

“The current financial industry was not built to serve the needs of melanated people because we were excluded from its construction,” said Bradley.

About the Author

Headshot for author James White

James White is a Michigan State University graduate with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. He is interested in reporting emerging trends in technology, especially with regard to alternative energy and environmental conservation.

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