Credit Sesame Acquires Challenger Bank

Credit Sesame made the move to acquire STACK, a Canada-based challenger bank, today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The announcement comes three months after Credit Sesame unveiled Sesame Cash, a digital bank account powered by STACK. After a successful pilot in March, Credit Sesame began a widespread rollout of Sesame Cash in mid-May. Since then, the company has onboarded more than 200,000 users to the new service. Now, as Credit Sesame reports, “the demand continues to surge with thousands of new accounts per day…”

Today’s acquisition will also help Credit Sesame expand geographically. The company’s financial management services will be available within STACK’s platform. The move into Canada marks Credit Sesame’s first step toward international expansion.

“Together with STACK, we are combining the power of smart banking and AI-driven credit management to create a new kind of personal finance,” said Credit Sesame CEO and Founder Adrian Nazari. “How much cash you have, and how and when you use your cash, have a big impact on your credit. Adding cash management to our credit platform was a natural next step to better help consumers manage their overall financial health, and it creates a unique benefit for our consumers and financial partners.”

The Sesame Cash account is aimed at underserved users and individuals living paycheck-to-paycheck. Some of the features include free daily credit score refreshes, cash rewards for improving credit, early payday, and real-time transaction notifications. The account comes with a Mastercard debit card that offers Mastercard Zero Liability protection, direct deposit, the ability to freeze or unfreeze the debit card in-app, and more.

Credit Sesame, which most recently demoed at FinovateSpring 2015, plans to launch more features, including a smart billpay service, transaction roundups to save or pay down debt, rewards programs, and credit-building opportunities. The company plans to reveal these offerings “over the next few months.”

Former STACK CEO Miro Pavletic is now Credit Sesame’s General Manager of Canadian and International Business. STACK’s former COO Nicolas Dinh and former CPO Ranjit Sarai have transitioned to serve within Credit Sesame’s banking services. STACK’s Canada-based employees will work out of Toronto, Canada-based STACK offices.

Photo by Pascal Swier on Unsplash

Credit Sesame Launches Digital Bank Account

Financial health platform Credit Sesame announced this week it has launched Sesame Cash, a debit card aimed to help consumers reach financial stability while optimizing credit.

The San Francisco-based company, which sees 500,000 new members every month, said that more than five million of its existing members want a digital banking service that integrates their cash and credit. Sesame Cash does just that.

“Through the use of advanced machine learning and AI, we’ve helped millions of consumers improve and manage their credit. However, we identified the disconnect between consumers’ cash and credit—how much cash you have, and how and when you use your cash has an impact on your credit health,” said Credit Sesame Founder and CEO Adrian Nazari. “With Sesame Cash, we are now bridging that gap and unlocking a whole new set of benefits and capabilities in a new product category. This underscores our mission and commitment to innovation and financial inclusion, and the importance we place in working with partners who share the same ethos.”

The Sesame Cash account includes a fee-free Mastercard debit card with no overdraft fees, no minimum balance, and no service fees. Cardholders have free access to more than 55,000 ATMs, the option for early payday, real-time transaction notifications, the ability to freeze or unfreeze the debit card, and virtual card integration with other mobile wallets.

Unique to Credit Sesame’s bank account are daily credit score updates, cash rewards for credit score improvement, and free identity theft protection.

Future advancements include a billpay service that helps users lower their interest payment and pay down debt faster, a roundup autosave tool, rewards programs, and budgeting tools.

This move by Credit Sesame comes at a time when many fintechs are launching debit accounts and high yield savings accounts in order to compete with traditional financial institutions for not only consumer deposits but also mindshare. One of the company’s closest rivals, Credit Karma, launched a high interest savings account last October that yields 1.30% (down from 2.03% at launch).

Credit Sesame’s decision to offer a debit card instead of a high yield savings account will ultimately prove to be a winning strategy. Many fintechs that have launched high interest accounts in the past couple of years have little differentiation now that the U.S. Federal Reserve has cut interest rates to 1.25%.

Credit Sesame Appoints New Chief People Officer

Consumer credit health platform Credit Sesame today announced the appointment of a new Chief People Officer.

Pablo Gaito (pictured), who will be the first to serve in the newly created position, is tasked with scaling Credit Sesame’s “people operations” ahead of the company’s planned IPO. Gaito brings 20 years of experience managing human capital at large companies such as Cargill, Gap, and ServiceNow.

Gaito said he was attracted by “the authenticity of the people” at Credit Sesame” as well as the company’s “noble purpose to improve people’s lives through democratizing credit health.” He added, “Given the recent funding and ongoing growth, Credit Sesame is at a defining moment. I’m thrilled to guide us on our talent and culture roadmap to achieve our goal of scaling a healthy mission-driven company.”

Credit Sesame aims to democratize access to consumer credit scores, and has offered the service for free for almost a decade. The company also offers identity theft protection, savings recommendations, and a complete picture of users’ financial state all in one place.

Last month, Credit Sesame raised $43 million, a round which brought its total funding to $110 million. The company’s investors include Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Globespan Capital, IA Capital Groups, Symantec, Capital One Ventures, and Stanford University.

After Credit Sesame’s most recent funding round in August, the company revealed that its valuation was nearing $1 billion and it planned to IPO soon. There is no word on the exact timing for the public debut, however.

Finovate Alumni News


  • INETCO’s Insight 7 Brings Machine Learning to Fraud Prevention.
  • Nubank’s User Base Soars to 15 Million.
  • Credit Sesame Appoints New Chief People Officer.

Around the web

  • Uwharrie Bank to leverage Fiserv for digital transformation.
  • Klarna to offer buy now, pay later options to Samsung customers.
  • TickSmith’s Marketplace Advanced Insights offers insight into how Nasdaq Basic Canada works in the marketplace.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Credit Sesame Raises $43 Million in Advance of IPO

Credit score and loan management platform, Credit Sesame, has raised $43 million so far in its latest funding round, which is likely to be the last before the firm goes public, writes Jane Connolly of Fintech Futures (Finovate’s sister publication).

The round, led by ATW Partners with participation from previous investors, has not yet closed. TechCrunch reports CEO and founder, Adrian Nazari, believes the company is on track to achieve a $1 billion valuation when the round does close.

The funding is a combination of equity and debt for the profitable company, which has seen 90% annual revenue growth for the last five years. It will be spent on business expansion and developing Credit Sesame’s RoboCredit artificial intelligence algorithms, which enable consumers to see what actions they can take to improve their credit scores.

Nazari said this is likely to be the last funding round before launching an IPO and the company has no plans to look at mergers or acquisitions until after it goes public.

“Credit Sesame is revolutionizing how consumers manage their credit,” said Kerry Propper, co-founder and managing partner of ATW Partners. “What once was a mystery and black box is now distilled by Credit Sesame’s PCM platform into easy to digest actionable insights that can effortlessly and meaningfully change a consumer’s credit and financial health.”

Users of Credit Sesame, which coined the term “Personal Credit Management,” can check their initial credit score and look at debt rebalancing options for free, but pay fees to take up products referred through the engine.

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Mountain View, California, Credit Sesame demonstrated its credit-based PFM for a co-branded environment at FinovateSpring 2015.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Namaste Credit Becomes Challenger Bank.
  • Chatbots.Studio Partners with Yozobi. Check them out at FinovateFall later this month!
  • Credit Sesame Raises $43 Million in Advance of IPO.

Around the web

  • Salt Edge marks 400+ integrations with open banking APIs.
  • Payfone teams up with Digital Matrix Systems to help companies fight fraud.
  • Fenergo appoints Louise O’Connell to the newly created role of Chief Customer Officer.
  • StrategyCorps brings on former Geezeo executive, Bryan Clagett.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Token Forges Strategic Partnership with Envestnet | Yodlee.

Around the web

  • ACI Worldwide to provide “technology backbone” for real-time payments platform designed by Payments Network Malaysia.
  • NCR partners with Samsung to launch new all-in-one POS commerce station, NCR Silver Quantum.
  • Grab chooses TransferTo to deliver real-time digital payments to its drivers in Southeast Asia.
  • Meniga wins London Design Awards for brand design experience.
  • PayPal’s TIO Networks suspends operations to protect TIO’s customers.
  • Kinecta FCU to Offer Mortgage Harmony’s CU RateReset products.
  • App Informers lists Credit Karma and Credit Sesame in list of top 5 Identity Monitoring Apps for 2017.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Credit Sesame Raises More than $42 Million, Unveils Robo Advisor for Credit

Credit service and financial wellness company Credit Sesame has raised more than $42 million in funding. Featuring new and existing investors such as Menlo Ventures, Inventus Capital, Globespan Capital, IA Capital, and SF Capital, the combined equity ($26.6 million) and venture debt ($15.5 million) financing will take Credit Sesame’s total capital to more than $77 million. The funding will help speed Credit Sesame’s growth, enable the company to hire more than 100 new employees over the next 12 months, and “advance its analytics, robo advisor and machine learning technologies.”

That’s right. Robo advisor. In addition to the company’s funding announcement, Credit Sesame founder and CEO Adrian Nazari introduced new robo advisory technology that enables consumers to automate the management of their credit and loans. Credit Sesame sees this as “addressing the liability side of the balance sheet” rather than the asset side typically watched over by most robo advisors.

Credit Sesame CEO and founder Adrian Nazari demonstrating the company’s credit-based PFM solution at FinovateSpring 2015.

“While many companies have spent the last few years catching up to our free credit score offering for consumers, Credit Sesame has been developing and proving robo advisor technology.” Nazari said. He added, “this technology translates consumer financial and credit information into simple and actionable steps that consumers can easily understand and utilize to improve their financial profile and leverage their credit.”

Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Mountain View, California, Credit Sesame demonstrated its credit-based PFM for a co-branded environment at FinovateSpring 2015. With more than 12 million members, Credit Sesame’s mobile and online solutions give consumers free access to their credit profile, including their credit score, credit report grades and monitoring, as well as interactive tools and tips for securing better borrowing options such as low or no-balance credit card offers and debt consolidation loans.

Credit Sesame has achieved 100% annual growth for the past three years, reaching profitability earlier this year. This spring, the company launched a new service to pre-qualify members for credit cards. In February, Nazari was named to the Entrepreneur’s List of Most Inspirational Leaders in 2017, one month after earning similar recognition from

Finovate Alumni News


  • AutoGravity Partners with Global Lending Services.
  • SelfScore Rebrands as Deserve, Closes on $12 Million in Funding.
  • Credit Sesame Raises More than $42 Million, Unveils Robo Advisor for Credit.

Around the web

  • Avoka extends strategic partnership with Mitek for digital identity verification solutions.
  • Commercial loan origination, CRM are among the new features in Baker Hill NextGen solution.
  • OnDeck partners with Ingo Money and Visa to provide loans to SMEs via debit card.
  • Westpac NZ to transition to real-time banking platform from ACI Worldwide.
  • Regions Bank to add P2P payment and account-to-account transfer solutions from Fiserv.
  • iSignthis announces new agreement with operator, Dialinvest.
  • Payment Ninja to launch in the U.S. in November.
  • ThreatMetrix and partner to deliver ID verification for government and commercial digital services
  • Russian bank Lipetskcombank implements new mobile banking app built on Tranzware Mobile Banking from Compass Plus.
  • Accenture and nCino expand alliance to accelerate digital transformation within top U.S. banks
  • Symbiont joins Wall Street Blockchain Alliance as corporate member.
  • Envestnet | Yodlee to integrate risk insight solutions with Fannie Mae’s Ddsktop underwriter validation Service.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Worldline Buys First Data Baltics for $85 Million.
  • Symbiont Announces Strategic Investment from Medici Ventures.

Around the web

  • Benzinga features SuperMoney, LendUp, Credit Sesame, Capsilon, & BeSmartee as companies revolutionizing lending.
  • HuffPost features Jeana Deninger, ‎Chief Operating Officer at CoverHound.
  • BellaDati announces BellaDati IoT Cloud for the exploration of real-time data from Cross Domain Development Kit XDK of Bosch Connected Devices.
  • Symphony Software Foundation now counts more than 50 projects, 100+ contributors, 4 working groups, & 25 members.
  • Roostify helps First Cal Cut Loan Process to 15 Days.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Alumni News


  • Barclaycard Brings the Ka-Ching to Bling in New Wearables Payment Partnerships. See Barclaycard at FinDEVr in New York this month.
  • Excited to see Finicity at FinDEVr New York on March 21 and 22. Check out our interview with Co-Founder & EVP Nick Thomas.
  • Excited to see NuCypher at FinDEVr New York on March 21 and 22. Check out our interview with CEO & Co-Founder MacLane Wilkison.


  • Check out this week’s FinDEVr APIntelligence.

Around the web

  • Arxan Technologies completes the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 validation process from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
  • Credit Sesame launches new service that pre-qualifies members for credit cards.
  • Sisense and Narrative Science partner to Merge BI and AI.

This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Why PropTech and MortgageTech Are the Future of Fintech

If this is the first time you’ve heard the term proptech, it won’t be the last. Proptech (also known as real estate tech or REtech) and its subset mortgagetech have been around since 2014. Here’s why 2017 is poised to place proptech among the ranks of wealthtech, insurtech, regtech.

This year has already been favorable to mortgagetech and proptech companies. SoFi, for example, is about to close a massive, $500 million round, its competitor LendingHome topped $1 billion in mortgage loan originations last year, and RealtyShares has seen over $300 million raised on its platform. According to CB Insights, since 2012 the real estate technology sector has closed 817 deals worth $6.4 billion. Of that amount, $2.6 billion closed in 2016 alone, which represents a 40% increase from that sector’s funding in 2015.

In the U.S., there are a handful of reasons 2017 will be favorable to real estate. Interest rates are projected to rise for the second time, millennials are starting to buy their first homes, and investors are looking to diversify out of the volatile stock market. On top of all of this, regulations are slated to loosen under the Trump administration, and changing in regulation brings opportunities for innovation.


The broader category of proptech can be broken down into four basic segments.

1- Mortgagetech
These are mostly B2B companies specifically focused on facilitating part of all of the mortgage application process. They do not lend or service the loan.

2- Digital mortgage lending companies
These online lenders facilitate the mortgage application process and service the loan.

3- Real estate investment tech
Companies in this category are focused on the investment aspect of commercial and residential real estate.

4- Pure property plays
These don’t have a fintech angle but play a role in the broader proptech industry. Since this category is out of scope for this blog, this list only encompasses a fraction of companies in this category. Check out CB Insights’ coverage of commercial real estate technology for more.

What’s ahead in 2017

  • Expect to see more mortgagetech-bank partnerships along the lines of Roostify’s recent deal with JP Morgan Chase. As banks try to gain a competitive edge for market share, more established banks will need to leverage mortgagetech offerings.
  • We’ll see more niche alt-lending solutions such as SoFi that facilitate the application process and save borrowers on closing costs.
  • Expect to see more players offering real estate investment technology, coupled with some consolidation in real estate crowdfunding companies.
  • Outside of fintech, we’ll see more platforms aimed at cutting out the middle person, the realtor; and more business models such as Knock and GoldenKey that make the selling process easier.

You don’t have to take my word for it

We posed the question, How do you see proptech/ mortgagetech growing in 2017? to these Finovate alums working in the space. Here’s how they responded:

BhatRajesh Bhat, CEO and cofounder of Roostify:

“We expect to see further widescale adoption of digital mortgage solutions – to the point where one should expect it to be table stakes in 2018. We should also expect to see more players emerge in the space as investors see larger market adoption and validation.”


Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 9.52.53 AMLinda Schicktanz, Chief Advisor of CK Mack*:

“If there is one area ripe for fintech innovation, it’s real estate investing. Why put 30% down just to gain massive management headaches when you can now invest in rental cashflow online with very similar returns? Fintech and Real Estate are like peanut butter and jelly, they just go together!”

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 8.30.31 AMNima Ghamsari, cofounder and CEO at Blend:

“There is going to be an explosion in the use of data driving the mortgage process in 2017. Both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have announced their data initiatives toward the end of 2016, and lenders are starting to push consumer financial data aggregation into the core components of their customer experiences. This ties in nicely to the industry-wide push forward to a more digital, end-to-end process that started in 2016.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 4.07.54 PMJilliene Helman, CEO at RealtyMogul

“The impact of digital technology on the real estate industry and mortgage technology is still in its infancy, but I see both less experienced and more sophisticated investors, alike, moving toward a process that takes place entirely online. With over $250 million of capital invested and 100,000 registered investors on the platform, is a testament to this change. The more that technology can offer real estate borrowers and lenders transparency, as well as the efficiency of process and convenience, the faster both sides will adapt.”

*Full disclosure: I’m related to Linda Schicktanz. Yup– she’s my mom.