Credit-building startup Self raises $20 million

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The savings and credit building startup Self Financial has raised $20 million in a Series C funding round to help fuel its expansion to serve financially struggling consumers.

The Austin, Texas-based startup’s Series C funding round was co-led by Altos Ventures and Conductive Ventures. The funding will allow Self to accelerate its growth by hiring additional team members and investing in marketing and product development to improve overall customer success.

“We’re thrilled that with Conductive Ventures’ investment, and the continued support from Altos Ventures and our ongoing investors, we can impact so many more consumers on their journey to financial wellness and stability,” said James Garvey, founder and CEO of Self, in a press release.

Self’s reported target market is the roughly 100 million consumers who have a credit score of 600 or lower or are unscoreable because of a lack of credit information. Most of these consumers are generally unable to acquire traditional credit cards and loans.

The startup offers the Self Credit Builder account (a CD loan combination product) and a secured Visa credit card. The CD loan product builds a credit history while helping the consumer to save money over time.

The secured Visa credit card is for customers who have established a Self Credit Builder account, have made more than three on-time payments, have at least $100 in savings progress in their account and have no outstanding fees.

Self’s secured credit card avoids the large upfront deposit fees of $200 to $500 which are typically required by other lenders. According to the Federal Reserve, 40% of Americans could not come up with $400 to pay an unexpected bill without having to borrow money or sell something.

The subprime credit card market has been attracting outsized interests by large companies as well as venture capitalists drawn to the untapped potential for serving a profitable market. Recently Ally Financial agreed to pay $2.65 billion to acquire CardWorks, which offers a secured credit card among other products; and Amazon launched a secured credit card with Synchrony last June.

According to Crunchbase, a website that tracks investments in private tech companies, Self has raised about $37 million in seven funding rounds since 2015. Additional investors in the company include Silverton Partners, Ozmen Ventures, Rightside Capital Management, Temerity Capital Partners and Techstars Austin Accelerator.

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