Peter Thiel’s VC fund backs climate-conscious fintech TreeCard


TreeCard presents customers a spending and cash administration platform tied to a debit card comprised of wooden.


TreeCard, a climate-conscious digital cash app, raised $23 million from buyers in a brand new financing spherical.

Based by British entrepreneur Jamie Cox in October 2020, TreeCard is a novel idea within the fintech world. It presents customers a spending and cash administration platform tied to a debit card comprised of wooden.

The agency makes use of 80% of the income it makes from card interchange charges to plant bushes by means of a partnership with inexperienced search engine Ecosia. TreeCard has to date planted greater than 200,000 bushes.

The deal underscores elevated curiosity by VC buyers in corporations addressing local weather change. Funding for local weather tech startups hit a file $111 billion in 2021, based on a report from U.Okay. startup community Tech Nation.

“There’s a whole lot of thousands and thousands of individuals on the planet who’re altering their conduct based mostly on the setting,” Cox informed CNBC in an interview. “There is not a brilliant app for the setting but.”

Tremendous apps act as all-in-one platforms that serve a variety of consumer wants spanning on the spot messaging, banking and journey. Cox envisages TreeCard changing into a brilliant app centered on local weather — his app features a recreation that lets customers visualize what number of bushes their exercise has helped produce, for instance.

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Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures was the biggest investor in TreeCard’s spherical, whereas EQT, Seedcamp and climate-centric enterprise capital agency World Fund additionally chipped in. Valar is a prolific investor in fintech, having beforehand taken stakes within the likes of Smart and N26.

The platform, which continues to be working in beta testing mode, plans to make use of the funding for an official launch later in 2023. As well as, TreeCard will use the money to develop its roughly 30-person crew, with the goal of practically doubling in dimension.

TreeCard is at present solely obtainable within the U.S., with a waitlist of greater than 250,000 shoppers. It’s now step by step onboarding customers. TreeCard plans to launch within the U.Okay. and Europe, too, “hopefully quickly,” Cox stated. 

Although based mostly within the U.Okay., TreeCard selected the U.S. as its launch market. The U.S. has been a troublesome place for rival European fintechs. Monzo pulled its utility to accumulate a U.S. banking license, whereas N26 shuttered its American operations fully.

TreeCard is not a financial institution itself however presents its accounts by means of Sutton Financial institution, a regulated lender.

The TreeCard app features a recreation that lets customers visualize what number of bushes their exercise has helped produce.


Increased charges on the charges retailers should pay each time a buyer makes use of their card to spend make the U.S. a extra profitable alternative than Europe, TreeCard’s CEO stated.

However based on Cox, what European fintechs usually get mistaken within the U.S. isn’t realizing “the form of necessities on a finance product are very totally different to Europe.”

“When finance-type corporations come from Europe, they do not perceive intimately the American viewers,” he informed CNBC.

“Rewards are nearly at all times entrance and middle for particularly spending merchandise however a number of finance merchandise. It is extra of an afterthought in Europe.”

TreeCard presents shoppers as much as 3% of annualized curiosity on their deposits, a function it presents by means of third-party distributors.

“The dedication there may be that your funds aren’t used for fossil gasoline investments,” Cox stated.

Banks have channeled huge sums of cash to assist fossil gasoline corporations down the years. Evaluation from marketing campaign teams Urgewald, Reclaim Finance and greater than two dozen different NGOs discovered that business banks channeled $1.5 trillion to the coal trade between January 2019 and November final yr.

TreeCard’s funding additionally defies a few of the troubles being confronted within the fintech sector, the place companies are placing itemizing plans on ice and reducing again on bills to brace for a probable recession. Klarna, the purchase now, pay later agency, noticed its valuation plunge 85% in July, and laid off 10% of its workforce.

“We will probably be hiring however we’ve got to watch out,” Cox stated. “The setting is totally different from final yr.”

He added: “The important thing factor is that companies over the subsequent yr and a half in all probability, shopper companies are going to have to search out methods to develop that are not simply standard, ‘plow a great deal of cash into Fb adverts and get customers.’ That is not going to be the sustainable mannequin of progress.”

Whereas at college, Cox based an organization referred to as Cashew, which he described as “Venmo for the U.Okay.” He later joined Peter Thiel’s Thiel Fellowship, a two-year entrepreneurship program, the place he began cloud computing startup FluidStack.

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