Homegrown Business: Daniel Eberhard, CEO and founder of KOHO

Daniel Eberhard is the CEO and founder of KOHO, a company helping Canadians take control of their financial future without a bank.

Homegrown Business: Daniel Eberhard, CEO and founder of KOHO
Daniel Eberhard, CEO and founder of KOHO

Call him a serial entrepreneur, but at the age of 28 KOHO was already his second venture. Now at 32, Daniel’s successful FinTech company offers individuals the insight into their money that they deserve.
Launched in 2014, KOHO is a FinTech company that provides Canadians a financial alternative to the Big Five banks. Through an integrated app and reloadable Visa card, users have direct access into their finances with no hidden fees, an automated saving incentive, and real time spend notifications to name a few of the many user benefits. Instead of charging individuals unnecessary banking fees, KOHO profits from the interchange fees that merchants are already paying when individuals use a credit card in a store. For those who don’t know, banks have traditionally kept this fee for themselves.

Here, Daniel talks about the differences between the European and Canadian banking system and offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

On the impetus behind KOHO.

“I had recently returned to Canada after traveling throughout Europe. It was in Europe that I saw firsthand the fundamental differences in the UK banking system as compared to Canada. There were far fewer banking fees and greater communication and transparency to consumers when charges did occur. When I returned to Canada and had to re-set my Canadian accounts, these differences became increasingly obvious. The process was complex. I had no visibility into the banking fees that I was being charged, not to mention the numerous fees associated with this process.

I decided to look into this. I asked 10 of my friends, including my brother, for their bank statements so I could directly see what they were being charged. My brother had paid $85 in bank fees within three months – and he didn’t know about this. This felt unfair.

In order to see if this was a universal issue, I built a website asking others if they had similar experiences. I was looking for other people’s testimonials. It turned out that a lot of people were looking for greater transparency and autonomy with their banking. I took these testimonials to investors and used this as market proof that there was indeed a need for a financial alternative – a challenger to the Big Five banks.”

On the Open Banking changes he wants the Canadian government to implement.

“There are a lot of things happening in the Canadian banking system right now that matter. In the EU and UK, there is something called “Open Banking” in which people have the right to determine who has access to their financial data. This is not the case in Canada. And this is used to exploit Canadians.
We need a government driven solution in Canada – similar to the UK- to democratize what happens to our financial data. Our own financial transactional data should not be used to exploit us. And it is vitally important for Canadians to pay attention to this.”

On the advice he would give other entrepreneurs.

“The first piece of advice I would give others, is to work on big meaty problems. This is important from both a capital and talent perspective. If you work on problems that matter and that people care about, then you will have an advantage when acquiring capital and talent. Individuals have optionality these days, and the best talent and investment goes towards problems that are meaningful.

Secondly, you need to be resilient. It is much easier to be resilient if you are passionate about the problem that you are trying to solve.

Finally, you need to remember that people are investing in you, so you need to give them a reason why they should stake their claim on you as an outlier. You must do something that is unique.”