London and San Francisco, 17 June 2020 - PRESS RELEASE
Santander InnoVentures, Santander Group’s venture capital fund, today announces its investment into Upgrade, an alternative lender that offers affordable credit to mainstream consumers. Upgrade has received $40 million from various investors as part of its Series D round, which Santander InnoVentures led.

Over the last three years since Upgrade launched in 2017, more than 10 million consumers have applied for an Upgrade card or loan. Upgrade has already delivered over $3 billion in credit, growing at a triple digit annual rate. 

Chris Gottschalk, senior advisor at Santander InnoVentures, said: “We're excited to support Upgrade in their next stage of growth. 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.” Gottschalk will be joining the Upgrade board of directors.

Renaud Laplanche, Upgrade co-founder and CEO, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Santander InnoVentures as a new shareholder. 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 largest banks in the world to our partner roster.” 

Santander InnoVentures has invested in over 30 fintech companies after being established six years ago. The latest investment emphasizes the fund’s interest in the Americas, after previously investing in US-based companies such as alternative insurer Blueprint Title, primary issuance platform Securitize, commerce platform AutoFi, digital mortgage software platform Roostify, amongst others. This investment also reiterates Santander InnoVentures’s commitment to innovation and investing in all aspects of the financial services value chain. 

The investment will fuel the rapid growth of Upgrade Card, an innovative credit card that brings the low cost credit of installment lending to millions of retail locations in the U.S., and the upcoming launch of Upgrade Account, a mobile banking product to mainstream consumers. 

Existing investors including Union Square Ventures, Ribbit, Vy Capital and Silicon Valley Bank and new investors Ventura Capital and Uncorrelated Ventures also participated in the round, as well as Santander InnoVentures, bringing total funding since inception to $200 million. 

Santander InnoVentures is Santander Group’s corporate venture capital fund. It invests in fintech startups and adjacent verticals to accelerate their growth, helping entrepreneurs and their teams, and supporting them with capital, scale and Santander's expertise. Since launching in 2014, InnoVentures has invested in over 30 companies, making it one of the most active bank-backed fintech corporate ventures in the world.

Upgrade is a neobank that offers affordable and responsible credit to mainstream consumers through cards and personal loans, together with free credit monitoring and education tools that help consumers better understand and manage their finances. Upgrade has delivered over $3 billion in consumer credit through cards and loans since launch in 2017. Upgrade is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with an operations center in Phoenix, Arizona, and a technology center in Montreal, Canada. Personal Credit Lines are issued by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. Upgrade Card is issued by Sutton Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. More: