Cross River Bank Makes Moves as Fintech Acquirer, VC
Known in the space as the fintech partner bank, Cross River took another step down the path leading the industry: Last month, the bank bought PeerIQ, a company that does data analytics for loan underwriting. The bank also launched a venture capital arm to continue investing in startup fintechs in a more formalized way- though they have been partners for years.
“PeerIQ is a company we’ve known for a number of years; we’ve been working with them, partnering with them and in various ways for two or three years,” Phil Goldfeder, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at Cross River, said. “We recognized that we would probably better serve our customers and partners if we came together, so we’re happy that we’re able to acquire Ram [Ahluwalia, CEO of PeerIQ] and his team at PeerIQ and we’re excited about the collaboration moving forward.”
PeerIQ will function as a part of Cross River, bringing intelligent analytics to every transaction. Cross River, located 14 floors up just across the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey, has about $13.5 billion of assets and has originated more than $46 billion in loans since 2008, Bloomberg estimates. The way forward, as Goldfeder said, was through innovation, leveraging tech and teams like PeerIQ’s to better serve clients. That also means using the formal VC branch to help new firms grow their platforms and future acquisitions.
“Number one is to grow on PeerIQ’s core business, providing data analytics, and creating technology in the secondary market, but more importantly, for Cross River to help our partners and our clients serve,” Goldfeder said. “There’s, no question that we will continue to explore companies that would help strengthen Cross River and the fintech ecosystem and provide additional services to our partners.”
The bank has over 15 partnerships with top fintechs, like publicly traded Affirm, Rocket Loans, Coinbase, and private firms funded through VC rounds like Stripe. The bank most recently became a significant part of the PPP government emergency loan program. Ranking among giants like JP Morgan and Bank of America, Cross River ranked 6th overall for dollar amount approved. According to the bank, they doled out 490,000 PPP loans for a total of $13 billion, making up 4% of the entire program volume.
The way forward is clearly through embracing what it always has been at its base: the bank across the Hudson that is willing to partner with upstart brands and help them take over the world. With a flurry of consolidation purchases in the “post-pandemic” world (if that isn’t too early to say) that are only going to increase, Cross River seems to be on to something. Goldfeder said that Covid showed the rest of the world what the fintech space has known for ten years, that added value for customers and partners means innovation.
“Post-pandemic, where I think there was a larger recognition from the financial services industry of the need to innovate,” Goldfeder said. “Cross River is always known that we need to innovate… The post-pandemic dynamic we recognize that there’s tremendous value in creating a more formal venture arm to examine, explore companies that we can invest in to help them grow, help them succeed, and …. increase our support of our partners.”
Bloomberg reported Cross River is in secret talks to raise $200 million of funding at a valuation of $2.5 billion or more. The bank previously raised $100 million in 2018 in a round led by KKR, deBanked reported, and in 2016 raised $28 million.Last modified: July 13, 2021