Credit Karma’s Mission to Build Self-Driving Money in Canada

Fintech disruption can come from any angle, and one international player is making major strides in Canada.

Credit Karma has announced that they have passed two million total Canadian members, along with launching the first truly bilingual free instant credit score platform in Canada. Platforms to check credit scores for free existed in Canada before—including Credit Karma’s, which launched in the country back in 2016—but they were not available both in French and in Quebec. With this new expansion, customers in every province and territory can now access free credit checks. A native iOS app in French is set to launch in Q1 or Q2 as well.

“We believe in a world of worlds,” Credit Karma CRO and co-founder Nichole Mustard explains regarding the app’s Canadian launch. “There’s your social world, there’s your professional world, there’s your travel world and there’s your financial world. And there’s one button that’s going to own that, and we want that to be Credit Karma. The faster people can get to us and the easier that is, the more likely that will be the place consumers come together as a community. It’s a long-term play from having a deep relationship with our users.”

This new member milestone comes on the heels of the San Francisco-based Credit Karma debuting their new app in Canada a few months ago. The mobile platform is increasing engagement by a factor of 2.5 as well—app members log in 4.5 times per month, while mobile web and desktop members log in 1.9 and 2.5 times respectively.

The launch of the app in Canada also signifies the next step for Credit Karma’s expansion as a global financial company. Consumers are placing added value into ease of use, accessibility, and personalization, so Credit Karma wants to create an ecosystem where they can offer all of that and more. The company makes a fair chunk of its profits through partner recommendations, so if a user already trusts the company enough to check their credit and other financial insights, they’re likely to find a credit card there too. Credit Karma can centralize every credit card available to the user in one spot, including details like APR, rewards program, and more. Consumers are caring less and less about loyalty—they just want what’s best for them, and Credit Karma can help find it.

“Consumers are on this journey towards allowing technology to do almost everything for them,” says Mustard. “Self-driving cars are the easy example, but I think self-driving money is the future here.”

The app roll-out in Canada is another step to building trust and credibility with users here in the country. If Credit Karma can continue to find new users and keep information secure, they may search the company out as their own form of “self-driving money,” as Mustard put it. From there, less of a reliance on traditional banks could be established.

“People are looking for someone that’s not a financial institution that can talk to them about finance,” says Monisha Sharma, head of business development at Credit Karma Canada. “I think that relationship with the institution tends to be asymmetric—it’s them talking down to you. They’re not as consumer-centric as we are. But we’re still a friend to the banks, and we sit in the middle and bridge the gap.”

Credit Karma currently works with eight of the top 10 Canadian banks. The only two who are not partners are TD and RBC, though Mustard has been meeting with executives in a bid to change that. When Credit Karma looked to launch in Canada two years ago, it was major executives from Capital 1 and other financial institutions that introduced them to bank executives here. Two members of Credit Karma’s legal team are also Canadian, which ensured the company was well-ready to launch in every province and territory—including Quebec.

“Being great in Quebec was something that we have been grounded in from day one and we identified early on, so when we were getting ready to get there, there was no last hurdle we had to get over,” says Mustard.

Credit Karma is also aware of the competition that exists in Canada when it comes to free credit checks. Companies like Borrowell have raised huge amounts of capital and partnered with major banks like CIBC to provide credit checks. Mustard is a fan of Borrowell and knows their intentions are different when compared to Credit Karma. Borrowell is interested in personal loans, while Credit Karma wants to connect users with credit cards and other banking partners.

So far, Credit Karma has given out over 13 million free credit scores to Canadians. They will continue to roll out features and updates to their Canadian platform as they do for their U.S. one, eventually looking to use their extensive data insights to focus on the all-in-one financial platform Mustard is hoping to achieve.