When bills are due today and payday is still days away, millions of Americans lack the funds to bridge the gap. Over half of Americans would not be able to cover a $400 emergency expense without selling something or borrowing money. Instead, when mismatches in income and expenses occur or when unplanned expenses arise, many turn to higher-cost products and services.

The Financial Solutions Lab, a $30 million, five-year initiative managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co., launched its rst competition in February 2015. The goal of this competition was to identify emerging innovations that leveraged technology to reduce the cost, time, and stress Americans face as they manage their household cash flows. 298 innovators applied.

Collectively, the Lab’s diverse pool of applicants provides a window into the state of consumer-focused financial technology in the United States and allows CFSI to make a number of observations about the state of emerging technology intended to improve consumer financial health. The CFSI team was particularly struck by the evolution of personal financial management applications, emergent credit models, and the widespread use of prepaid products. Distribution and access to larger financial industry players continue to challenge innovators.