NBA Star Russell Westbrook Invests in Varo Bank After $63 Million Funding Round

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  • Russell Westbrook led a $63 million funding round to become an investor in Varo Bank.
  • The NBA star will also serve as an advisor to the financial tech firm to improve banking relations with minority communities.

National Basketball Association star Russell Westbrook has joined financial tech firm Varo Bank as a new investor after the company raised $63 million in a new funding round.

Varo Bank announced the funding round on Thursday, adding Westbrook's investment was made through his enterprise firm. Investment company Jefferies Group advised Westbrook in the transition.

Terms of Westbrook's investment were not made available.

Varo, a digitally-focused bank, said the funds would be used to "further develop the product roadmap, including additional credit, savings, and transaction banking features."

In 2020, Varo became the first consumer-focused fintech company to get approval from the FDIC, so it's considered a national bank and allowed it to take customer deposits. Previously, the fintech firm was valued at $417.8 million, according to Pitchbook.

"We see it as a pretty big moat," Varo Money CEO Colin Walsh told CNBC last February when discussing the approval. "It was a long process – for this to finally see daylight is a big deal for the industry."

Westbrook, 32, will also be an advisor to the bank and focus his efforts to improving income inequality issues via Varo-driven programs targeting minority communities. He also wants to strengthen banking relations with the Black community.

"The banking system has ignored or underserved a large portion of the American population – particularly communities of color," Westbrook said in a statement. "I'm passionate about making lasting social change and creating a stronger and more inclusive system. 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."

In his first year with the Washington Wizards, Westbrook is averaging 18.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 9.5 assists. Westbrook is earning roughly $41 million this season, which is part of a five-year $206 million extension he signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017.

"The Varo team is thrilled Russell is joining us on our trailblazing journey as the only all-digital, mission-driven national bank in the country," added Walsh. "We both share a view that banking can be – and needs to be – a force for good.  Russell is a visionary and his energy and passion for design, product excellence, and community impact will help propel Varo's next phase of growth."

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