For freelance workers and entrepreneurs without a consistent salary flow, finding a fee-free business banking account—or access to credit—can be near impossible.
Such was the dilemma for Hussein Ahmed when he started working as a freelance consultant for startups. He found that others in his WeWork location faced the same problem. So Ahmed founded Oxygen in 2018.
The fintech company is intended to be a one-stop mobile banking platform. Users can sign up for FDIC-insured personal and business banking accounts (provided by Bancorp Bank) with no monthly fees or minimum balances. They can also access debit cards with cash-back rewards and accounting tools.
“When you invoice clients, there’s no need to go through the hoops of signing up for FreshBooks or QuickBooks, trying to tie it to a merchant account like Stripe, and then moving your money from Stripe to the bank,” says Ahmed. “It’s all easily set up within the app.”
Oxygen, now with over 600,000 users and more than 120 employees, even helps clients form limited liability companies (LLCs).
The need for such a platform has proven to be great. As the pandemic-fueled unemployment rate reached 14.7% in April 2020, some 57 million Americans turned to gig labor that year to make ends meet—a nearly 20% increase from 2014, according to Forbes.
Investors are taking note. By spring of 2021, Oxygen had raised more than $33 million in funding. Some seven months later, TechCrunch reported that the company was in talks to raise another $70 million in a Series B round.