Black-owned First Boulevard bank secures $5m ahead of its official launch
US-based neobank, First Boulevard (formerly called Tenth), has just raised $5 million in seed funding.
TechCrunch reports that the fresh capital came from Barclays, Anthemis and a group of angel investors such as actress Gabrielle Union, Union Square Ventures’ John Buttrick and AutoZone CFO Jamere Jackson.
Co-founder Donald Hawkins told FinTech Futures in December, that First Boulevard obtained “significant funding” and would reveal the details closer to its official launch.
For co-founder Hawkins, the genesis for the Overland, Kansas-bank came after George Floyd’s murder. He and the bank’s co-founder and chief operating officer (COO), Asya Bradley, were talking about what Black America “really needed to get out of a vicious cycle” of dealing with the same issues with no real solutions in sight.
Part of its goal with the new capital involves building out a Black business marketplace, which will give its members “Cash Back for buying Black”.
It also plans to use the money to expand its team, increase its customer base and grow its platform to offer fee-free debit cards, financial education and on developing technology to help members automate their saving and wealth-building goals.
The pair aims to have a “fully inclusive” team that represents the community it’s trying to serve.
Currently, its 20-person staff is 60% Black and 85% Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC). Two-thirds of its leadership team are women and 100% is BIPOC. The company plans to boost its headcount to 50 by year’s end.
The company also recently announced a partnership with Visa, under which First Boulevard will be first to pilot Visa’s new suite of crypto application programming interfaces (APIs).
First Boulevard will also launch a First Boulevard Visa Debit card.