Upgrade Closes $40M Santander-Led Funding Round


Mobile bank Upgrade Inc. has received a $40 million investment as part of its Series D round led by Santander InnoVentures, a division of Santander Group of Spain, the company announced Wednesday (June 17).

The cash will be used to fuel the growth of Upgrade Card, the company’s credit card and the launch of Upgrade Account, a mobile banking product.

Union Square Ventures, Ribbit, Vy Capital and Silicon Valley Bank, the San Francisco-based startup’s existing investors, and new additions Ventura Capital and Uncorrelated Ventures also participated in the round. That brings the total funding since its inception three years ago to $200 million.

Since its launch in 2017, Upgrade said more than 10 million consumers have applied for an Upgrade card or loan. They have provided more than $3 billion in consumer credit through cards and loans.

“We are thrilled to welcome Santander InnoVentures as a new shareholder,” said Upgrade Co-Founder and CEO Renaud Laplanche in a statement. “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 top 10 global banks to our partner roster.”

Chris Gottschalk, senior advisor at Santander InnoVentures, who will be joining the Upgrade board, said the firm wants to support the next stage of Upgrade’s growth.

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

Santander InnoVentures said it has invested in more than 30 FinTech companies after being established in 2014. The latest investment emphasizes the fund’s interest in the Americas. Its previous investments in U.S.-based companies include alternative insurer Blueprint Title, primary issuance platform Securitize, commerce platform AutoFi and digital mortgage software platform Roostify.