Challenger banks — financial firms offering something much like banking services, and looking to compete with old-school banks — are a new idea. The basic structure that underlies them is not.

As Ingo Money CEO Drew Edwards noted in a recent conversation with Karen Webster, the model that most so-called challenger banks offer is basically a variation on an old theme. The customer gets a reloadable prepaid card that functionally behaves much like a debit card attached to a real checking account, and the card is also paired up with a slick digital app. Firms with that business model have been around for over two decades.

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