What’s in a name? Why we named the company M1 Finance

Brian Barnes
Brian Barnes February 15, 2022
What’s in a name? Why we named the company M1 Finance.

We often get the question, “Why did you name the company M1 Finance?” Well, there are three reasons. 

1. M1 defines the platform we’re building

 Economists use “M1” to refer to a measure of the money supply and quantify how much liquidity exists to facilitate transactions. If you add up the value of all coins, paper bills, and checking accounts(a), you get a single number — M1. In a sense, M1 is synonymous with money. 

But coins and paper bills are on their way out, because most money today is represented digitally. When you buy something online with the click of a mouse, and the item shows up at your place, the only money exchanged happens through an electronic message that updates a few database entries. These electronic messages and database entry updates are quite inexpensive — they’re basically free. 

Since money is digital, we questioned why a checking account could only be backed by “cash” or deposits at a bank. It should be free and instantaneous to convert between spendable cash and anything else that can be digitally represented, like ownership of investments or borrowed funds. 

So, we set out to build a single platform that gives you the transaction capability of a checking account but with your money backed by assets in your account. If you have excess cash, it can be swept into investments to put it to work. If you need more liquidity, you can instantly tap a line of credit. We believe all your money should be automatically allocated according to your custom plan.  

That’s our version of M1, a comprehensive money account.  

An M1 account (b)

2. M1 defines the company we’re building

When we started, many recommended we go with a name that described the first feature of our app. Others said we should choose something silly to stand out in the crowd. That didn’t line up with our vision. We’re not building an app feature. And we’re not building a silly company. (We’ll leave that to other fintech companies, and they’ll pick their names accordingly.)  

We’re building a financial institution.  

Financial institutions endure for decades, if not centuries. Their names have a timeless quality to denote they’ll be around to serve you in years to come. That’s our plan with M1. Create a company that helps you improve your financial well-being over your lifetime. Lifetimes are long, and we need a name that stands the test of time.  

M1 fits that bill. 

3. M1.com is now available

It turns out two-letter domains are difficult to procure. As a finance company, we added “Finance” to the end of our name to secure our naming rights and domain. But that pesky M1.com ownership problem is no longer an issue. 

M1 Finance is now M1.  

Going forward, you can visit us at M1.com

(a) Since May 2020, this now includes savings accounts and money market accounts, which used to be part of the M2 money supply. 

(b) Due to financial laws and regulations, we must open separate accounts for checking account functionality and for investing functionality. However, we integrate them into one platform so you can easily manage all your money as if it were in the same account. 

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