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Digitising Millenial Money: EF5 Alum Cleo raises $10m to replace banking apps for a generation

By Nasos Papadopoulos, EF Head of Content
22 September, 2018

The Cleo Team, with CEO and Founder Barney Hussey-Yeo front and centre

Entrepreneur First is delighted to announce that EF5 Alum Cleo, a digital assistant that helps people manage their finances, has raised a $10M Series A round to continue their mission to become the global interface for money.

The round was led by Balderton Capital, Europe’s leading Series A investor, who joined a world-leading set of existing backers that include Niklas Zennstrom, founder of Skype, Taavet Hinrikus, founder of TransferWise, and seed fund LocalGlobe.

It’s no secret that personal finance is a problem area for many millennials, widely referred to as ‘generation debt’. This lack of financial literacy is often exploited by retail banks as CEO Barney Hussey-Yeo points out – “from overdraft fees to credit cards, the traditional range of financial products doesn’t work for this generation. The model of retail banking is not set up for the people it serves.”

That’s where Cleo, a digital assistant for your money, comes in. Users securely connect their bank accounts to her and Cleo sits on top, giving them personalised insight into their spending data. Predominantly millennials, Cleo’s users talk to her in Facebook Messenger, where she creates a daily relationship between them and their money.

Cleo now has over 600,000 users, with 94% aged under-35. The AI has a fun, wry, and relatable personality which is helping to drive its rapid growth among millennials. Designed to help young people save, Cleo sets targets, tracks your spending, puts away savings automatically, and answers questions instantly and intelligently.

On top of all this, the company is now set to launch its own range of financial products and expand internationally, following a successful launch in North America in April 2018, which saw 350,000 people sign up within just four months. The demand for a new financial experience is clearly there.

Cleo CEO and Founder Barney Hussey-Yeo

Rob Moffat, partner at Balderton Capital, who led the round agrees: “In the future, people may not use a traditional bank account as their primary financial interface. Cleo has managed to strike the perfect balance between education and entertainment, bringing a unique personality that keeps users coming back. We believe Cleo has the team and product to become the leading global player in the coming years.”

While Cleo is just starting out as a business, their ambition is certainly not start-up sized. As Barney himself told us, “There’s an arms race going on to become the financial interface for this generation. A Google-size company will emerge in the next five years that achieves that.

At EF, we want our founders to build globally important companies because the opportunity cost of not doing so is too great. We want our founders to scale their ambition and maximise their impact, and Barney and the team he’s assembled at Cleo are certainly doing that.

This Series A will enable Cleo to continue scaling across Western Europe, the Americas, and Australasia, as they look to become the default interface between a generation and their money.

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