Firstcard: $4.7 Million Secured To Build Better Banking For College Students

By Annie Baker • Sep 13, 2023

Firstcard – a fintech startup building better banking for college students – recently announced that it has raised $4.7 million in Seed funding from VCs and Angels such as AngelList Early Stage Quant Fund. And this comes a year after the company’s $3 million pre-seed fundraising, bringing the total funding to date to $7.7 million.

The company was founded by immigrant entrepreneur Kenji Niwa – who was an MBA student at UC Berkeley Haas Business School after successfully selling his first startup in Japan. And Niwa first experienced the challenges of getting financial products as an international student and witnessed the financial stress many local college students underwent.

Firstcard also recently debuted its Credit Builder Card today to help students build better credit and start their financial journey early with safety guardrails at the forefront. And with Firstcard Credit Builder Card, students can get a credit card and start building credit without worrying about their credit history, overspending, or application rejection. Plus, Firstcard provides students with a bank account, lets them earn up to 15% cash back at selected merchants, and soon grows savings with up to 4.25% APY with the launch of Firstcard Plus (a $3 monthly subscription plan) — all within a single platform.

The features of the Firstcard Credit Builder Card include:

– Build and track credit scores – Firstcard reports to all three major credit bureaus so students can start building a strong credit history immediately.

– No need to worry about overspending – You deposit what you can spend, creating financially healthy habits for student users.

– Get approval regardless of your credit background or location – Students don’t need to worry about credit history when applying for Firstcard. Additionally, Firstcard accepts international students without an SSN. Firstcard believes in providing equal opportunities and financial access to all and aims to empower students to kickstart their financial journey regardless of credit background.

– Grow cash over time – Earn 1.25% APY with Firstcard and soon 4.25% APY with the launch of Firstcard Plus, our $3 monthly subscription plan (Not applicable for international students without an SSN at the moment).

– Partners with selected merchants for cash back – Enjoy cashback rewards through 29,000+ strong partners, many of whom are right on campus.

– No annual fee. No minimum deposit. No overdraft fees. No late fees. Students’ financial journeys shouldn’t come with surprises. We believe in transparency and aligning interests with you.

As part of a recent survey done by Firstcard, 50% of college students do not have a credit card because they fear overspending and application rejection. And according to a recent FICO study, 29% of Gen Z consumers don’t have a credit score or don’t know if they have one. For this reason, the executive team consisting of Kenji Niwa (CEO), Daniel Junqueira (CTO) and Ma Qing (CMO) launched Firstcard and built the Credit Builder Card to address the credit issue for students first.

With this new funding round, Firstcard plans to double down on its student-first approach and scale its tech infrastructure and marketing efforts on college campuses. And upcoming features will include an AI “financial advisor” to help students save money and build credit by analyzing their financial behavior, a budgeting tool, financial aid and student loan solutions, ways to earn bonus APY for savings, financial education content, and other features that will support Firstcard’s commitment to helping students succeed in their financial future.


“We built Firstcard because students are provided with very little knowledge to manage their finances coming out of college. For this reason, we started Firstcard with an ambitious mission: to help students succeed in their financial journey by changing the culture of finance and making financial products accessible to all students – no matter who they are, where they are from, or what their credit history is. Firstcard is about students, not just about another credit card or neo-bank. We put students first and believe that in order for students to take control of their financial future, we need to provide students with the right financial tools and knowledge early on so they can be prepared for success.”

– Firstcard CEO Kenji Niwa

“We’re excited to be investors in Firstcard. We know from our hiring data that Firstcard has been among the very best startups for attracting top talent on Wellfound (formerly AngelList Talent).”

– Abraham Othman, PhD, at AngelList Early Stage Quant Fund