Grammy Award-winning artist and entrepreneur Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has invested in Altro, a Black-led, free app helping users build credit through existing spending habits.
TechCrunch reports Altro was founded by friends Michael Broughton and Ayush Jain, who bonded over the belief that credit access should be free. The two men are now helping people build their credit through recurring payments, including subscriptions to apps like Netflix, Spotify, and other streaming services.
The two men have built a platform that finds a person’s recurring transactions and connects them to a tradeline, a line of data that goes directly into a bureau’s system that reports to all three credit bureaus.
Citi Ventures, Black Capital Fund, Concrete Rose Fund, Jay-Z’s Marcy Ventures, and individual investors helped Altro raise $18 million in a Series A funding round. The funding will be used to continue growing Altro’s credit and financial literacy program and expand its team.
“What we built is not an alternative or supplemental,” Broughton said. “We’re not creating our own score, but rather it is a direct correlation to your actual score being improved over time, which a user can see in our app.”
Participating services in Altro include YouTube Premium, Dollar Shave Club, Adobe Creative Cloud, Amazon Prime, Xbox Live, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and others.
Altro entered numerous pitch competitions, raising about $100,000, until one summer day in 2020, an analyst for Marcy Ventures was in the audience when the two men gave their pitch. A day later, Marcy Ventures wrote the two men a check for $250,000, kicking off the funding round.
Altro will soon also allow its users to build credit by making rental payments on time, which the app is bringing back after suspending that option. Altro makes its money by charging the subscription partners a fixed percentage of what its users are paying the partners directly, building relationships with Visa and Mastercard, and bringing on FICO board member and Altro investor Joanna Rees.