Even a financial value of $ 180 million as “Google thefts” of online loans

  • Fintech startup Even Financial has created a machine-learning-based platform that algorithmically targets and matches customers with lenders, helping banks get more returns on their marketing investment.
  • The company said on Wednesday it had raised $ 25 million from investors including Citi Ventures, Goldman Sachs and American Express.
  • The deal values ​​Even at $ 180 million, according to sources familiar with the terms.

Banks spend billions to market personal loans, credit cards and more

retail banking

products to consumers in a context of intensifying competition. A startup just got a valuation of nearly $ 200 million for a platform that algorithmically targets and matches clients with lenders, helping them get more returns on their marketing investment.

Even Financial, a New York-based fintech startup founded in 2015, on Wednesday announced a strategic $ 25 million investment led by Citi Ventures, with participation from Goldman Sachs and American Express, among other backers.

The company, which has now raised $ 50 million in total, declined to comment on its valuation, but sources familiar with the deal say the investment values ​​the startup at $ 180 million.

Even commanded this hefty price tag on investors for the creation of a platform that acts as a digital matchmaker between financial institutions and clients looking for their services in an increasingly disparate array of sites on the Internet.

Read more: The mortgage start-up Better.com, backed by Goldman Sachs and Kleiner Perkins, which has just raised 160 million, predicts a wave of hiring of 400 people in 4 months

Co-Founder and CEO Phillip Rosen enjoys making comparisons to ITA, the flight software company that created a data-driven marketplace for the airline industry and has been used by airline ticket search engines from around the world. websites from Delta and United to Orbitz and Kayak. Before ITA, which was acquired by Google in 2010 for $ 700 million and now powers Google Flights, people were often at the mercy of travel agents – an almost unimaginable scenario for many today.

But instead of plane tickets, Rosen and company are linking consumers to personal loans and

high yield savings accounts

. For example, a consumer might read an article on a personal finance website like The Penny Hoarder or Credit Karma and receive personal loan advertisements showing them personalized offers from Marcus by Goldman Sachs or SoFi.

Or someone can be logged into a money management app like Pocket Guard or Empower and see suggestions for a high yield savings account they could qualify for with Barclays, Amex, or Discover.

Even uses machine learning to sift through stacks of data – from lenders, third parties, and customers themselves – to predict the type of offer a customer is more likely to respond to and qualify for. The company’s engine programmatically takes care of verification, pre-approval and regulatory compliance, streamlining the process for financial institutions and potentially reducing defaults and charges.

This, in turn, helps websites or apps that advertise these products – which are often paid based on successfully generated leads – to earn more money.

Banks spend billions on marketing

There are thousands of places like this where customers can be inspired to get a quote or click on an offer, and a large financial institution isn’t likely to connect directly to an individual platform unless they do. it won’t be on a large scale, according to Rosen. So with Even, banks can instead connect directly to Even’s API, or application programming interface, which serves as a single conduit algorithmically coordinating widely dispersed supply channels.

“The goal is to create this infrastructure and platform that can really support the distribution of these products and engagement with consumers through whatever the consumer used to go in the model of. branch or agent, ”Rosen told Business Insider.

This is good news for banks, which face increasingly intense competition on a variety of consumer credit fronts, from mortgages to credit cards.

“The competition for user acquisition in financial services is probably fiercer than it has ever been in history,” Luis Valdich, CEO of Citi Ventures who led the business, told Business Insider. business investment. Due to the proliferation of fintech competitors in recent years, customer acquisition costs are increasing, he said.

Read more: Apple’s long-awaited credit card launched with Goldman Sachs. A Wall Street company calculated the numbers on how much money it could make.

Nearly 30 leaders

american banks

and card companies spent $ 13 billion last year on marketing, according to EMI Strategic Marketing’s analysis of data from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. Five institutions – JPMorgan Chase, American Express, Capital One, Bank of America and Citibank – each spent more than $ 1 billion on marketing.

These efforts are moving further and further away from traditional methods such as postal mail and towards digital platforms.

“Even plays a lot at the heart of this” age-old change, “Valdich said.

Even’s growth has been rapid, but there are still holdouts

Even’s rapid rise over the past year has earned him the trust of investors like Valdich, who has followed the company from its inception but did not invest in the tour last year. the company’s nearly $ 19 million Series A, saying he wanted to see the startup expand the range of financial products it could serve.

Even – which now has 78 employees, down from less than 20 at the start of 2018 – began primarily by focusing on personal loans, but now supports the offerings of chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, student loans and insurance. They work with over 60 financial institutions, including American Express, Barclays, Discover, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, LendingClub, and SoFi.

Yet some giant institutions are noticeably absent from their client lists, including America’s largest banks. Gaining buy-in from legacy institutions can always be difficult, Rosen said, as many are reluctant to relinquish custody of their brand.

Read more: Machine-learning-based mortgage startup Blend has exceeded expectations with a fundraiser of $ 130 million. Their CFO explains how they succeeded.

Financial institutions “really need to do a better job of interacting with and acquiring customers in an affordable and profitable way,” said Rosen. “And that means engaging with consumers where they are, which very often isn’t the bank branch or the banks connecting experience.”

On the other hand, he added, they are also “very afraid to give up control of their brand and put it in someone else’s experience.”

Rosen believes that the lure of a smarter, data-driven, and profitable market to attract customers will eventually win out and become the norm, just like in the airline industry.

“This year the traction has been huge. And the buy-in from our clients, the financial services companies, is not just the enthusiasm to work with us. They now want to be part of its construction,” said Rosen. .

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David A. Albanese