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Jiko raises $40 million to build T-Bills-based retail bank

Jiko raises $40 million to build T-Bills-based retail bank

Jiko, a US fintech startup offering an account where all customer deposits are turned into Treasury bills, has raised $40 million in Series A funding.

Jiko, which is led by former Goldman Sachs trader Stephane Lintner, first made the headlines last month when it bought Minnesota-based Mid-Central National Bank after securing approval from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

With the bank's license in its hands, Jiko is set to emerge from beta and launch its app-based account that immediately turns deposits into T-bills. When customers make a payment or an ATM withdrawal with their Jiko card, the equivalent amount in T-bills is sold to cover it.

Jiko has spent the last three years quietly building its core infrastructure, which merges payment rails with real-time, 24/7 principal trading capabilities on T-bills. This means that an investment can act as a liquid and spendable alternative to cash.

The benefit of the model, says Jiko, is that customers get to keep the yield on the treasuries. Lintner tells CNBC that the Jiko account generated a 3.3% annualised return last year.

Upfront Ventures and Wafra Inc. co-led the new round of financing, which also included participation from Radicle Impact, NYCA Partners, Anthem Ventures and all existing investors. The round brings Jiko’s total equity raised to $47.7 million - including $7 million in debt - since inception.

“A fintech buying a bank isn’t standard, and we spent most of the last few years of our effort on that—the whole round was designed around it,” Lintner told Fortune. “We needed very patient investors.”

With the acquisition, Jiko has secured over 50,000 people on its waitlist and recently started onboarding handfuls of customers after beta testing with about 1,500 people. It plans to charge $9.99 per month or $99 a year for its product.

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