Portugal-based digital-only bank Banco BNI Europa has forged a partnership with UK-based Fintex Capital to invest in Upgrade, a US-based consumer lender platform.

Upgrade offers access to affordable credit and credit education to consumers.

Fintex Capital, which issued a bond to Banco BNI Europa backed by the portfolio, implemented this loan purchase programme. Fintex will also serve as asset manager for the underlying loans.

Banco BNI Europa has committed an initial sum of $30m.

The challenger bank has already invested in US consumer loans originated on platforms such as Lending Club and Prosper through a third-party fund.

With this investment, the Portuguese lender is joining more than a dozen of institutional investors that are investing in consumer credit through the Upgrade platform.

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Banco BNI Europa executive chairman Pedro Pinto Coelho said: “We are pleased to increase our exposure to the US consumer lending market and particularly delighted to benefit from the expertise of Upgrade’s experienced team lead by Renaud Laplanche.

“We consider Upgrade to be different from other consumer loan offerings in light of its focus on borrower free cashflow as a key metric.

“We’re also supportive of Upgrade’s credit education initiative, which provides much needed advice and assistance to US borrowers as to how they can improve their credit health.”