Cross River Bank closed a $620 million capital raise Wednesday, a round that values the Fort Lee, New Jersey-based bank at over $3 billion, said Hillel Olivestone, the bank’s head of corporate development.
"It's sort of the next level up from where we have been," Olivestone said. "The group of investors that have participated in this round is a mix of all top-tier investors across the board."
The latest round of funding includes investments from venture capital firms Eldridge and Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from T. Rowe Price Investment Management, Whale Rock and Hanaco Ventures funds, the bank's parent company, CRB Group, said Wednesday in a press release.
"This really is a sign from late-stage growth investors that Cross River really is at the epicenter and the leading infrastructure provider for fintech," Olivestone said in an interview.
Cross River CEO Gilles Gade founded the company in 2008 and has led it to become the banking partner to more than 80 fintech firms, with a big presence in the payments arena. Those fintech clients include the digital payments player Stripe, the buy now-pay later provider Affirm and crypto exchange company Coinbase.
"The capital infusion will accelerate Cross River's tech-focused growth strategy by building out embedded financial solutions, bolstering strategic partnerships, and continuing plans for international expansion," investment banking boutique Financial Technology Partners said in commenting on the deal. FT advised Cross River on the fundraising effort, as it has other paytech firms, including for Revolut, Bolt and SpotOn.
International expansion goals
The bank’s offerings are split into three main categories: payments, lending and banking-as-a-service, Olivestone said. The latest funding will aid the bank in expanding each of those areas, he added.
"We have a large focus on card offerings and card issuance and acquiring, as well as continuing to expand our lending products services," he said.
Cross River will also continue its focus on providing services in the cryptocurrency space. The bank has a long history of serving digital currency clients, and was an early banking partner and infrastructure provider for Coinbase.
"We have a large pipeline of additional crypto companies that have immense interest in working with Cross River and we will continue to offer them additional services as they grow," Olivestone said.
The company also has global ambitions. "We're pretty confident that the model that we've created inside the U.S. can be replicated and is valuable in other regions," Olivestone said.
The bank’s international strategy is still in its early stages, but Olivestone said Cross River could expand globally through strategic partnerships or acquisitions.
Cross River also plans to use the funds to grow its headcount. The 800-employee company will likely top 1,000 within the next year-and-a-half, Olivestone said.
With $85 billion in loan originations since the company’s inception, and a deep portfolio of some of the fastest-growing fintechs, the one-branch bank has spent the last several years punching well above its weight.
Most recently, Cross River has garnered significant attention for its involvement in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), during which it lent close to $13 billion to 480,000 small businesses.
The government-backed coronavirus relief program helped the bank showcase its capabilities to a wide audience like never before, Olivestone said.
"PPP was sort of that first time where we were out in the public — direct to businesses — and people really got an understanding and appreciation of what we built from a technology and scalable perspective," he said.
Bank or fintech?
The attention the bank continues to attract through its tech offerings has led to industry speculation over whether the company should be considered a fintech or a bank, Olivestone said.
"There's been a history of trying to figure out really what Cross River is and putting us in a bucket," he said. "We think we're a hybrid."
"Besides the technology, which is obviously one of the most important aspects of our platform, we also are a regulated financial institution, and the combination of the two really is the secret sauce that allows us to work with these companies and enables them to do what they need to do for their end customers," Olivestone said.
In a statement accompanying the firm’s recent funding announcement, Todd Boehly, co-founder and CEO of Eldridge, described Cross River as "a technology company with the established expertise of a bank."
"Cross River is providing essential infrastructure for the future of finance and enabling companies to empower customers with a full suite of fintech solutions," he said.