Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook has joined digital banking platform Varo Bank as an investor and advisor. The nine-time All-Star led Varo’s $63 million funding round, which was announced today.
This coincides with the platform gaining legit banking credentials. After three years and multiple rounds of applications, the FDIC approved the fintech company’s national bank charter application, which allows it to take customer deposits. Varo launched its branchless bank by partnering with Bancorp. Those customer deposits will be transferred over to Varo in the second quarter, assuming it passes final regulatory tests, according to the company. Varo was last valued at $417.8 million and is backed by TPG and Warburg Pincus, according to Pitchbook. Digital bank Chime, by comparison, was last valued at $5.8 billion.
Varo aims to provide affordable banking services to individuals who’ve been traditionally underserved by America’s financial system. Varo Bank is a member of the FDIC and is the first digital-only U.S. bank to receive national charter status. “I am excited and ready to work with Varo to be a part of an economic revitalization for those who never had the access they deserved,” says Westbrook, who made his investment through Russell Westbrook Enterprises.
Westbrook isn’t the only NBA player to recently invest in financial technology; his former Oklahoma City Thunder co-star Kevin Durant invested in the financial literacy app, Brigit, last month. Another mobile banking app, Goalsetter, recently partnered with the NBA Players Association to open savings accounts for Black and Brown youth across the U.S.