Goldman Sachs leads $50M round for credit card platform Deserve

4 Nov

Deserve, a credit card startup helping young people establish themselves as well as a cloud-based credit card platform for businesses, has raised $50 million in a new round of Series C funding led by Goldman Sachs, the company announced today. Others participating in the round include existing investors Sallie Mae, Accel, Aspect Ventures, Pelion Venture Partners and Mission Holdings.

The funds will be put towards Deserve’s further development of what it calls its “Card as a Service” (CaaS) platform, which helps businesses, brands, and others tailor credit card products to their own unique customer bases.

In doing so, Deserve will some extent compete with other white-labeled and co-branded credit card issuers, like Synchrony Financial and Alliance Data, with its CaaS service aimed at businesses, fintech companies, consumer brands, and universities who want to offer their own financial products.

Deserve’s turnkey, cloud-based and API-based Deserve Credit Platform promises partners the ability to set up a program in as fast as 90 days, instead of the typical 18 to 24 months. It also leverages technology like machine learning alongside traditional financial data and other alternative and proprietary data sources in order to underwrite a larger population — including those who may be new to credit.

This is particularly important as many younger consumers have been avoiding credit cards in the hopes of not being dragged down by debt. Those born in or after 1995, for example, make up only 5% of U.S. consumers who carry credit card debts, reports have said. But as these consumers enter the market for the first time, they’re often choosing credit cards over other credit products, a recent report from TransUnion found. However, without an established credit history, many younger users often fail to qualify for traditional cards.

That’s where Deserve can help. In addition to helping consumers quickly apply for credit right from their phones and get approved in minutes, the program also features financial education and other perks like cashback rewards, and incentive programs from Amazon (Prime Student), Mastercard (cellphone protection), Priority Pass (airport lounges), and others — like Deserve’s own cards offer.

Since its August 2018 fundraising round, Deserve has partnered with clients like Sallie Mae, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Honor Society to help them launch credit cards designed for their specific audiences. Its overall platform today serves more than 100,000 consumers.

With its new investment led by Apple Card partner Goldman Sachs, Deserve plans to further build out its platform’s tools, APIs and machine learning capabilities with data science and engineering hires, while also expanding its b2b sales and marketing departments.

“Goldman Sachs is supportive of Deserve’s mission to expand access to credit, and to simplify the ability for organizations to offer their own bespoke credit card products,” said Ashwin Gupta, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, in a statement. “We believe Deserve’s card platform will bring meaningful savings and new opportunities to institutions across a range of verticals.”

The funding brings Deserve’s total raise to date to around $100 million. The company is not yet profitable, but that could now change.

“This current round will lead us to profitability,” Deserve co-founder and CEO Kalpesh Kapadia claims.

Deserve declined to share its valuation.

Currently, Deserve is a team of 60, but it aims to grow to 100 over the next six months.

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