US non-bank lender Upgrade closes $40m round with the help of Santander

By Oliver Smith on Thursday 18 June 2020

Alternative LendingDigital Banking

The lender turned digital bank has closed its Series D.

US non-bank lender Upgrade closes $40m round with the help of Santander
Image source: Renaud Laplanche/Upgrade.

Upgrade, the US alternative lender, has raised a $40m Series D funding round from investors including Santander InnoVentures.

The lender also revealed that since its launch in 2017, more than 10m consumers have applied for its loans and credit cards, with over $3bn of credit extended.

“We are thrilled to welcome Santander InnoVentures as a new shareholder,” said Upgrade CEO and co-founder Renaud Laplanche.

“Our strategy of partnering with banks and credit unions of all sizes is delivering tremendous value to our partners and customers, and we are delighted to add one of the largest banks in the world to our partner roster.”

It’s the second time in as many weeks that Santander has made waves in the world of fintech, with the bank’s executive chairman Ana Botín pledging to hire 3,000 IT professionals only last Friday.

Upgrade says its credit lines are currently growing at a “triple digit annual rate”, with the current financial crisis certainly supporting that.

“We're excited to support Upgrade in their next stage of growth,” said Santander InnoVentures senior advisor Chris Gottschalk, who’ll be joining Upgrade’s board of directors.

“Upgrade is building a neobank with credit at its heart, which we believe is a smart strategy as credit represents 70% of banking revenue globally and is often the main reason customers seek banking services.” 

Other investors in the round include Upgrade’s existing investors like Union Square Ventures, Ribbit, Vy Capital and Silicon Valley Bank, and new backers Ventura Capital and Uncorrelated Ventures.

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