Chime Financial Inc. today became the most valuable financial technology startup in the U.S. after announcing that it has closed a $485 million round at a $14.5 billion valuation.
The investment is the third raised by the startup in six months. Chime is now worth about nine times as much as it was in March, when a $200 million round led by DST Global first catapulted it into the unicorn club.
San Francisco-based Chime operates a popular consumer banking service that consumers can access via their mobile devices. The startup offers checking and savings accounts that do away most of the fees traditional banks charge for actions such as ATM withdrawals. Chime also doesn’t require a monthly subscription to use its service.
Instead, the startup generates most of its revenues by charging a small commission on transactions users make with their Chime-branded cards. The startup encourages customers to use their cards more often via an automated savings feature called Save When You Spend. The feature rounds out the value of transactions to the nearest dollar, then adds the round-up differentiate to the user’s Chime savings account.
Though fairly simple, the startup’s spin on online banking has enabled it to stand apart from the numerous other fintech players competing in this niche. Chime claimed to have had 3 million bank accounts when it closed its $200 million round in May and is now adding several hundred thousand new ones every month, Chief Executive Officer Chris Britt (pictured, left, with co-founder Ryan King) told CNBC today.
The extra $485 million in funding could make it easier for the startup to expand into new parts of the financial services market if it so chooses. Revolut Ltd., another mobile banking unicorn that raised capital recently, has built on the popularity of its core checking account features by adding value-added products such as stock trading tools and insurance. With the extra funding, Chime is also better positioned to expand geographically.
The startup is already growing fast enough as it is. In the CNBC interview, Britt said the company has more than tripled its revenue since the start of 2020 and generates positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The plan, the executive said, is to make the company “IPO-ready” within the next 12 months.
The $485 million round saw the participation of over half a dozen institutional backers including Iconiq Capital, Tiger Global and General Atlantic. To date, Chime has taken in about $1.5 billion from investors.
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