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Santander invests in alternative lender Upgrade

Santander invests in alternative lender Upgrade

Santander InnoVentures has led a $40 million Series D investment round in Upgrade, the consumer credit platform that is moving into mobile banking.

Union Square Ventures, Ribbit, Vy Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Ventura Capital and Uncorrelated Ventures joined Santander in the round, which brings Upgrade's total funding since inception to $200 million.

Since launching in 2017, Upgrade has seen more than 10 million applications for a card or loan, with the company delivering over $3 billion in credit, growing at a triple digit annual rate.

The investment will fuel the growth of Upgrade Card, a credit card that promises the low cost and responsible credit of installment lending to millions of retail locations in the US, and the upcoming launch of Upgrade Account, a mobile banking product.

Chris Gottschalk, senior advisor, Santander InnoVentures, who will be joining the Upgrade board, says: “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.”

Upgrade was set up by Renaud Laplanche after he was forced out as chief of LendingClub following an internal review which found that $22 million in near-prime loans were sold to an institutional investor that did not want them.

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