A challenger bank for Latino immigrants has closed its seed round.
On Tuesday, the New York City-based Comun announced that it raised $4.5 million in seed funding led by Costanoa Ventures with participation from South Park Commons and FJ Labs. The digital banking app launched publicly to consumers in September 2022.
The app was co-founded by two immigrants to the U.S. from Mexico. Spanish is the default language for the offering, which includes a no-fee checking account, app and debit card, although users can switch to English. Applicants do not need a Social Security number to sign up for an account; instead, they can use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, a foreign passport, or another form of official foreign identification, and supply proof of address.
“We built Comun to make it easier to thrive as an immigrant family in the U.S.,” said Andres Santos, co-founder and CEO of Comun. “My co-founder [Abiel Gutierrez] and I both experienced how challenging it can be to navigate the banking system as immigrants.”
Comun’s website defines the adjective “comun” as belonging to, or affecting, the whole of a community. New York City based Piermont Bank, which has $448.9 million of assets, provides the underlying banking services for Comun.
The co-founders will use the funding to expand Comun’s offerings and add more educational content, especially related to financial literacy, in the app. Comun makes money via interchange fees.
The number of neobanks that are bilingual or Spanish-first has ebbed and flowed in recent years. Dora, a challenger bank developed by Rye, New York-based credit union USAlliance Financial and three other credit unions, is bilingual. It launched in September 2021. Viva First in Lubbock, Texas, bills itself as a Latino-first banking app. Welcome Tech, which builds products and services for immigrant communities in the U.S., has a digital banking service called PODERcard that, like Viva First, is bilingual. The website for Crediverso, a financial technology company for Latinos, says that it is launching a banking app for Latino families. But the website for Tend, a neobank that launched in both Mexico and the U.S. in 2021, is no longer operational.
Other neobanks, such as Majority, target immigrants more broadly. Of the U.S.-based neobanks reviewed, Comun appears to be the only one whose website defaults to Spanish.
Traditional financial institutions and other financial services companies have made their own overtures to Spanish-speaking people. For example, Community First Credit Union in Santa Rosa, California, trained its conversational bot to communicate in Spanish as well as English. In September, Square announced that its entire product ecosystem would be available in Spanish as well as English.