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KeyBank buys startup focused on student loan advice 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 has acquired GradFin, which offers counseling for people seeking help with student loan debt. In a press release, KeyBank described the firm as a leader in public service loan forgiveness advice.

KeyBank has purchased a handful of fintech startups over the past few years. Fintech is a 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 established in 2015 and is based in Philadelphia.

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

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

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

Keybank’s growth strategy: Buy fintechs

KeyBank continues to buy businesses to expand its digital presence.

The bank has hinted at this strategy during earnings calls with investors. In a January interview, Gorman said the company’s purchase of Laurel Road exceeded expectations.

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

The company acquired AQN Strategies and XUP Payments in 2021 and in 2019 KeyBank purchased Laurel Road’s cutting-edge technology, incorporating its distinctive customer experience.

Keybank has also forged partnerships with fintechs such as AvidXchange, BillTrust and Bill.com in the old days.

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