KeyBank buys startup focused on student loan counseling in another fintech acquisition

CLEVELAND, Ohio – KeyBank has bought another fintech startup, this time acquiring a company that works with people who have student loan debt.

The Cleveland-based bank announced Monday that it acquired GradFin, which offers counseling to people seeking help with student loan debt. In a news release, KeyBank described the company as a leader in Public Service Loan Forgiveness counseling.

KeyBank has bought a handful of fintech startups over the last few years. Fintech is technology used to support or enable banking and financial services.

Gradfin describes itself as using smart technology and personalized advice to help people follow the “perfect student loan plan.” The company was started in 2015 and is based in Philadelphia.

According to the startup’s website, it has consulted with 60,000 student loan borrowers since 2015. The company also works with financial advisors and employers who help pay down workers’ student loans.

“GradFin combines the best of digital and human interaction to create a unique client experience,” Jamie Warder, head of digital at Keycorp, said in a news release. “Advisors thoroughly understand the economic environment as well as the specific needs of healthcare providers, while the digital platform provides fast and effective solutions for debt relief and government forgiveness programs.”

KeyBank said the deal will enhance the company’s offering for healthcare clients. The bank owns Laurel Road, an online bank specifically for people in the healthcare field.

Keybank’s growth strategy: Buy fintechs

KeyBank continues to buy companies to expand its digital presence.

The bank has alluded to this strategy during earnings calls with investors. In an interview in January, Gorman said the company’s purchase of Laurel Road had exceeded expectations.

KeyBank said in a statement Monday that the “acquisition of GradFin is the organization’s next step in providing digital innovation at scale through strategic partnerships with fintechs.”

The company acquired AQN Strategies and XUP Payments in 2021 and in 2019, KeyBank purchased Laurel Road’s advanced technology, integrating its distinctive client experience.

Keybank also formed partnerships with fintechs like AvidXchange, BillTrust and in the past.

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