Partnerships / Acquisitions

E*Trade Buys Student Loan Startup Gradifi

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Online discount brokerage firm E*TRADE has acquired Gradifi, a student loan benefits and financial wellness provider, E*TRADE announced in a press release on Monday (Dec. 9).

Scott Whatley, president of E*TRADE Corporate Services, said that assisting personnel with achieving fiscal prosperity means grappling with student loan debt, “if we hope to set employees up for long-term financial success.”

He added that as an industry leader, E*TRADE has a central role in assisting employers with their participants’ monetary essentials, noting that “…innovative offerings like Gradifi help us deliver even more firepower to plan sponsors.”

Whatley further stated that aside from the tools Gradifi offers, the company also brings “an outstanding team of tech-minded professionals who share our spirit of disruption and laser focus on the customer.”

Among the greater concerns challenging today’s workers is student loan debt, hitting $1.5 trillion in the third quarter of 2019, which is $20 billion more than the second quarter.

Gradifi’s approach features an array of financial wellness services such as employer-sponsored student loan paydown and contribution resources for 529 plans. Offerings also include student loan refinance opportunities, loan counseling, educational material and digital financial planning tools.

Kate Winget, chief revenue officer of Gradifi, said the company looks forward to joining E*TRADE, which has “… a rich legacy of digital disruption and innovation.” She added that working as one team will better serve all clients’ needs, and that together they can “raise the bar even further for the benefits industry.”

E*TRADE acquired Gradifi for $30 million, Reuters reported. There was speculation that E*TRADE could be an acquisition mark following the Charles Schwab move in November to acquire TD Ameritrade. The deal would result in a brokerage powerhouse.

An increasing number of Americans are struggling to keep up with their student loan and credit card debt. A new PYMNTS research report indicates that 63.1 percent of students who are currently late on their payments work a full-time job. Although 57.4 percent are not currently late, they have been in the past.


Featured PYMNTS Study: 

With eyes on lowering costs to improving cash flow, 85 percent of U.S. firms plan to make real-time payments integral to their operations within three years. However, some firms still feel technical barriers stand in the way. In the January 2020 Making Real-Time Payments A Reality Study, PYMNTS surveyed more than 500 financial executives to examine what it will take to channel RTP interest into real-world adoption. Here’s what we learned.