Nova Credit lands $45M to grow its cross-border and alternative data credit products | TechCrunch

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Moving from one country to another is difficult in many ways, not the least of which involves starting over financially.

Nova Credit, which started out as a graduate research project out of Stanford University about seven years ago, was founded to help immigrants overcome the obstacles of applying for things like apartments or loans with no credit history in the U.S.

“We realized that half of the graduate student population of any university consists of international students – and if you go and ask them about their experience with financial services, you’ll hear some version of the same story – ‘I can’t get credit or I can’t get a credit card. Or I need to go ask my classmate to co-sign for an apartment or cell phone plan,’ ” said Misha Esipov, CEO and founder of Nova Credit.

With that Credit Passport product, Nova has connectivity into credit bureau data from other parts of the world through its APIs. Nova launched that product with American Express and then added dozens of institution partners over the years, such as HSBC,Scotiabank, Verizon and Earnest. (Nova Credit emerges embedded within those institutions’ applications).

It works in 20 countries outside of the U.S. as well. If a person from the U.S. moves to London or Singapore, for example, they can get approved for banking products internationally in those markets through Nova.

In recent years, the startup also has expanded beyond its flagship Credit Passport product to also offer anyone – not just immigrants – the ability to use alternative data for credit but providing access to their bank account. That product, dubbed Cash Atlas, is cash flow underwriting product that allows anyone with a U.S. bank account to allow the information – such as rent payment history or direct deposit of paychecks – inside those accounts to be used to help them apply for credit. It is aimed at the tens of millions of people that are “effectively locked out of the U.S. financial system,” Esipov said. 

We’ve started to expand from a single product company to a multi-product company and platform…Our strategy is to evolve into a more data analytics company that serves not only people that are new to this country, but frankly any customer segment and plugging the gaps in this antiquated traditional credit reporting industry which doesn’t do well for serving customers who are new to credit,” Esipov told TechCrunch in an interview.

Today, Nova is announcing that it has raised $45 million in Series C funding, additional capital that it plans to use toward expanding its product offering and geographically, Esipov told TechCrunch exclusively. The round came together “in a matter of weeks,” he said.

Canapi Ventures led the round, which included participation from existing backers Kleiner Perkins, General Catalyst, Index Ventures and Y Combinator as well as new investors such as Avid Ventures, Geodesic Capital, Harmonic Capital, Radiate Capital, and Socium Ventures (Cox Enterprises).

The raise marks the company’s first external round of financing since February 2020, which makes it a bit of an outlier in the fintech space, which experienced a major funding boom in 2020 and 2021. At that time, Nova raised $50 million in a financing that reportedly gave it a valuation of $295 million after its first close.

Esipov declined to disclose Nova’s current valuation, saying only that the company was “xxxx happy” He also declined to reveal hard revenue figures, saying only that the company has grown its revenues by 10x since that 2020 funding round and that it more than tripled its data transaction volumes since the start of 2023. 

Nova has remained relatively lean, with about 100 employees. It does plan to do some more hiring with its new capital. It also plans to take its Credit Passport business global – having already launched in markets such as Canada, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirate and Singapore. The company is also planning to invest in its Cash Atlas product and developing more new products.

For now, Nova’s Passport product provides the majority of the company’s revenue but Atlas “is growing even more quickly on a percentage basis right now.” Esipov said the company has invested “heavily” in information security and compliance since it was a seed-stage company.

The executive projects that the company will reach profitability in the relatively near future, possibly as early as next year. It opted not to raise more capital – in fact less than its last round – to avoid taking on “unnecessary dilution,” he added.

Jeffrey Reitman, general partner at Canapi Ventures, told TechCrunch he was initially attracted to Nova’s mission of enabling newcomers and thin-file consumers the ability to have fair access to financial products.  Canapi first invested in the company in the Series B round and is impressed with “the explosive growth” it has displayed since. 

Many of our banking LPs are in active dialogues with Nova Credit to leverage their products to better serve their customers and that also nicely aligns with the mission here at Canapi,” he said.

Nova, Reitman added, “has amassed more collective access to international credit data than any one of the major credit bureaus and that makes for a very valuable proposition for its customers.” 

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