Millions of students and professionals leave their home nation each year for work and pursue higher education. Even after spending months in the new country, they struggle to get a credit card from local banks, and have to pay a premium to access a range of other financial services.
Banks in the U.S., or in most other countries for that matter, rely on local credit score to determine the worthiness of potential applicants. Even if an individual had a great credit score in India, for instance, that wouldn’t matter to banks in other countries.
That was the takeaway Raghunandan G, the founder of ride-hailing firm TaxiForSure (sold to local giant Ola), returned to India with after a trip. After doing more research and assembling a team, Raghunandan believes he has a solution.
On Wednesday, he announced Zolve, a neobanking platform that is aimed global citizens. The startup works with banks in the U.S., India and other countries to provide consumers access to financial products seamlessly and without paying any premium.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Raghunandan said the startup underwrites the risks, which has enabled banks in foreign countries extend their services to Zolve customers. “Consumers can open an account with us and access all banking services as if they are banking with their national bank,” he said.
As part of the announcement, Raghunandan said Zolve has raised $15 million in a Seed financing round led by Accel and Lightspeed. Blume Ventures and several high-profile angel investors including Kunal Shah (founder of Cred), Ashish Gupta (formerly the MD of Helion), Greg Kidd (known for his investments in Twitter and Ripple), Rahul Mehta (Managing Partner at DST Global), Rahul Kishore (Senior Managing Director of Coatue Capital, also participated in the round. So did Founder Collective (which has backed Airtable and Uber), in what is its first investment in an Indian startup.
“Individuals with financial identities in multiple geographies need seamless global financial solutions and we believe the team’s strong identification with the problem will enable them to deliver compelling and innovative financial experiences,” said Bejul Somaia, Lightspeed India Partners, in a statement.
The startup plans to offer a range of services including a credit card and insurance to its customers later this year. It has already amassed over 5,000 customers, said Raghunandan.
Zolve offers a range of compelling features even for those who don’t plan visit a foreign land. If you’re in India, for instance, you can use Zolve to buy shares of companies listed at U.S. exchanges. You can also buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrency from exchanges based in the U.S. or Europe, said Raghunandan.
“It is an absurd reality that global citizens have to rebuild their financial profile when they move to a new country. Zolve solves this problem by helping them get fair access to a suite of modern financial tools so they can participate in the new economy on an equal footing from day one,” said David Frankel, Managing Partner at Founder Collective.
“The global citizen community is largely underserved in terms of access to financial services and we believe that there is a huge market opportunity for Zolve. Raghu has a proven track record as a founder and we are delighted to partner with him again, on his latest venture. The team’s passion and commitment are commendable and we are positive that Zolve will create tremendous value for this community,” said Anand Daniel, partner at Accel, in a statement.
This is a developing story. More to follow…