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March 1, 2019
Mitzvah-minded unicorn Cross River is on holy mission to foster bank-fintech harmony
Then I took your ancestor Abraham from the other side of the Euphrates River and led him through the entire land of Canaan. I multiplied his descendants, and gave him his son Isaac.” That’s a passage from Joshua 24:3 in describing how Abraham “crossed over” the demarcation line into a spiritual awakening. It’s also the inspiration for the name of Cross River Bank (CR), led by its charismatic founder Gilles Gade.
The Hudson River may not have the holy resonance of the Euphrates; however, there’s no denying the special character of this Fort Lee, New Jersey-based bank that supports fintech companies including Affirm, Circle, Best Egg, Coinbase, Rocket Loans, Stripe, Upstart and Transferwise.
From its modest beginnings as a one-branch bank in nearby Teaneck, to its leading position within the marketplace lending industry, to its current aspiration to be a standard-bearer of bank-fintech cooperation, CR has been a model of adaptability. A constant, says Gade, is a belief that it’s possible to simultaneously protect customers and deliver more and better services to them. In CR’s latest iteration, those services involve a variety of technology-infused offerings which have defied skeptics, regulatory uncertainty created by court decisions such as Madden vs. Midland Funding and increased competition. To preserve its momentum, the bank recently closed on an eye-popping $100-million growth equity round led by a KKR division and purchased a sizable office building near the George Washington Bridge. That latter move may be unconventional for a fintech high-flier, but as anyone familiar with CR knows, the bank plays by the rules — but it doesn’t play by conventional wisdom. And so far, that’s working out divinely.
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