Gambling with a Cartoon Bear

How the Dave App entices borrowers to go further into debt

Andy Spears
2 min readAug 30, 2022


Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

The Dave App — the one with the friendly cartoon bear that wants to give you a low-dollar loan right from your phone — has a new way to encourage existing customers to borrow more.

It’s bad enough that Dave charges interest rates in excess of 500% — now, the app is trying to entice customers to apply for more cash advances.

A story in the L.A. Times notes that the bear in your phone who gives out fast cash is charging up to 547% for the service

Here’s how the Times broke down the fees associated with a loan from Dave:

Given that the money had to be repaid in 12 days, the $5.99 fee and $2 tip, if considered as interest, cost Goad 122% on an annual percentage rate basis — a metric that helps compare the relative cost of loans. If he tipped $6.93, the company’s average in the first quarter, it would amount to an APR of nearly 200%. If he chose a 15% tip, the total cost would rise to $35.99 with an APR of 547% — corner payday loan territory.

Here’s more on the trouble with the Dave App — and the reality that despite the fancy fintech packaging, Dave is basically a slick payday loan store with a friendly bear posing as a benevolent lender:

Some Dude Who Hasn’t Shaved in Two Days Wants to Give You a Loan on Your Phone | by Andy Spears | Medium

The whole business seems shady — and it is couched in language around “leveling the playing field” and offering easy access to credit for those most in need.

If that’s the goal, why is Dave now encouraging customers to play casino-style games in an attempt to spur more borrowing?

More on fintech lenders:

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .