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London Tech Week

Griffin secures $24M in funding as it becomes the UK’s first fully licensed Banking-as-a-Service platform

Griffin, London-based Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, has announced approval from UK financial services regulators to launch as a fully operational bank. The announcement comes alongside a $24 million funding round led by MassMutual Ventures, NordicNinja and Breega, with continued participation from existing investors Notion Capital and EQT Ventures. The investment will be used to scale Griffin as it expands its services to new and existing customers.

Approval from the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) makes Griffin the UK’s first full-stack BaaS with a banking licence. TFN spoke with co-founder and chief technology officer, Allen Rohner, about what makes Griffin different.

A new type of banking platform

Griffin’s banking licence immediately sets it apart from other fintech platforms. While there are many options for businesses looking for white-label finance options, Griffin’s status as a fully fledged bank allows it to go further. Most fintechs offering white-label financial services are e-money institutions and when interest rates were very low, there is little to different them from banks. But with higher interest rates, Griffin’s banking licence means it can do more. “We can offer white-label savings accounts, and pay interest on customer’s deposits, which is huge. We can also offer loans tailored to our customer’s business because we understand fintechs in a way most other banks don’t.” And Rohner feels they feel they offer then best of both worlds, “Griffin’s product and tech also compares favourably with EMIs, as opposed to high street banks.”

It also means that Griffin can offer their clients more security and stability. “We have an integrated suite of financial crime and onboarding tools designed to lower both the customer’s risk and our risk,” Rohner said. And they aren’t at the mercy of a partner bank’s risk appetite. “We have designed our products and policies around serving fintechs. Owning our own banking licence is a great way to control our destiny, and be a more stable partner for our customers,” Rohner continued.

Griffin is also keen that who they are, as much as what they offer, sets them apart. Rohner, along with co-founder and CEO David Jarvis, are both successful Silicon Valley engineers, having co-founded tech unicorn CircleCI. But they are joined by a leadership team with a strong track record in banking and technology names like Form3, Swift, Barclays, Virgin Money, and Lloyds. And they are explicit in their desire to build a human and sustainable business.

“At the end of the day, what’s the point in working this hard to start a company if you don’t enjoy it?” Rohner asks. He points to their website, where details of their corporate culture and values are given the same prominence as their products. “David and I wanted to enjoy going to work every day, and feel good about the work we’re doing.”

And the pledge extends beyond their workforce too. “Aside from having good products, technology, and policy, we try to ‘do things that don’t scale’, as the startup advice goes,” Rohner told us. “That means more communication with customers to understand their pain points, more interaction after the sale is closed, and a tighter feedback loop on product design.” They are also a member of Tech Zero, working towards helping meet global Net Zero targets by reducing their own environmental impact.

Accelerating their growth responsibly

Griffin plans to use the funding and licence to accelerate their growth, but are deliberately taking a responsible approach. Working with their pilot customers, they are inviting invitations for new customers through their Foundations programme. The aim will be to offer participants a close working relationship while they onboard, working together to embed finance seamlessly into their existing user portals.

MassMutual Ventures’ Managing Partner Ryan Collins echoed this. “Our continued support for Griffin is a testament to its extraordinary progress to date,” he said. “As the UK’s first full-stack BaaS platform with a banking licence, Griffin is the partner of choice for fintechs and brands to build innovative financial products with a seamless client experience.”

Rohner says they want to take full advantage of the potential their banking licence offers. “We want to enable card issuing, cross border payments, and FX. We want to offer loan products tailored to specific industry verticals we understand well.” Griffin will also offer the more bread-and-butter aspects of banking. “We also see an opportunity for a large number of ‘boring’ back-office products that make our customers’ lives easier like loan scoring, collection and management, treasury management, regulatory reporting, and management information.”

International expansion is also planned, in large part because of the benefits it offers customers. “Geographical expansion is also a product because our customers want to operate in multiple jurisdictions, without the added complexity of multiple banking partners,” Rohner said. Griffin may be the UK’s first licensed full-stack BaaS, but they are not resting on their laurels. “We’re just getting started on the products we can offer,” says Rohner.

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