Slam dunk for Varo Bank as NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook leads $63m investment round

By Aisling Finn on Thursday 18 February 2021

Digital Banking

Westbrook will also join the bank as an adviser for financial inclusion in communities of colour. 

Slam dunk for Varo Bank as NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook leads $63m investment round
Image source: Russell Westbrook/Keith Allison

US digital challenger Varo Bank (previously Varo Money) has bagged a $63m investment, led by nine-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook.

The funding round was led by Russell Westbrook Enterprises, with Westbrook joining the bank as an adviser to give guidance to Varo Bank about how best to make its services inclusive for communities of colour and African American communities. 

Of his investment, Westbrook said: “The banking system has ignored or underserved a large portion of the American population- particularly communities of colour. I’m passionate about making lasting social change and creating a stronger and more inclusive system.”  

“I am excited and ready to work with Varo to be a part of an economic revitalization for those who never had the access they deserved.”

The latest funding will be used by Varo to enhance its technology, inclusive design and focus on its social impact. 

Colin Walsh, CEO and founder of Varo Bank, added: “The Varo team is thrilled Russell is joining us on our trailblazing journey as the only all-digital, mission-driven national bank in the country.” 

“We both share a view that banking can be - and needs to be - a force for good.  Russell is a visionary and his energy and passion for design, product excellence, and community impact will help propel Varo’s next phase of growth.”

In December 2020, Varo launched Varo Advance, a short-term cash advance line of credit that gives eligible customers access up to $100 when they need it.

Westbrook is not the first A-List celebrity to invest in Varo Bank.

Back in January 2018, The Rise Fund, a global impact fund co-founded by U2 frontman Bono, participated in the digital bank’s $45m Series B for the second time.

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