Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Neo Financial CEO and co-founder Andrew Chau, centre, with co-founders Jeff Adamson, left, and Kris Read at Neo's headquarters in Calgary.

Todd Korol/The Globe and Mail

A Calgary startup led by two SkipTheDishes founders has raised $25-million from some of North America’s top investors including billionaires Peter Thiel, Peter Thomson and Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, to build a digital challenger to Canada’s big banks.

Neo Financial Technologies Inc. said Wednesday it had raised $25-million in equity led by Mr. Thiel’s Valar Ventures and backed by funds including Montreal’s iNovia Capital, Mr. Thomson’s Thomvest and Dragons’ Den star Arlene Dickinson’s District Ventures. Other investors include past backers of SkipTheDishes, the Winnipeg-based food delivery service bought by Britain’s Just Eat PLC in 2016, including Toronto’s Golden Ventures, Mr. Lutke and FJ Labs, as well as Afore Capital and Maple VC.

(Mr. Thomson, the founder and chairman of Thomvest, is also co-chairman of Woodbridge Co. Ltd., which owns The Globe and Mail.)

Story continues below advertisement

Neo has also secured a $25-million debt facility from ATB Financial, one of two financial institutions – the other is Concentra Bank – with whom Neo is partnering to offer high-interest savings bank accounts backed by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corp.

Neo chief executive Andrew Chau – who, along with chief merchant officer Jeff Adamson were senior executives with SkiptheDishes – said his two-year-old company has built the infrastructure to offer a savings account accessible by smartphone and a Mastercard credit card. It has also signed up 2,000 merchants including e-scooter company Bird, Esso and Guardian Drugs to join a loyalty points program. This week, Neo began formally signing up customers from a waiting list the company says numbers in the tens of thousands.

“We’re here to build a meaningful company and get to millions of users,” Mr. Chau said. “The Canadian banking industry is massive, yet the last meaningful challenger was ING Direct,” which launched in the 1990s and is now called Tangerine Bank and owned by Bank of Nova Scotia. “There is such a huge opportunity to layer technology and essentially rebuild the entire banking stack from the ground up.”

Neo’s savings account pays 1.55 per cent annually – much higher than the big banks – and comes with unlimited transactions and no monthly fees. The company claims it takes customers just three minutes to sign up. Mr. Chau said the company plans to expand its offerings to include mortgages, loans and investing products.

Matt Golden, managing partner of Golden Ventures, said that Mr. Chau and Mr. Adamson are passionate, skilled and have the experience in building a big company. “They understand the value of putting their customers and partners first as they did at SkipTheDishes and they will do the same in building a better banking experience for all Canadians through Neo.”

Maple general partner Andre Charoo said the pair “achieved something most people didn’t think was possible on the Prairies.”

He said that success, plus their ability to sign up thousands of merchants for a loyalty program and their home base in Canada give Neo an advantage against other challenger banks from the United States that might be interested in the Canadian market.

Story continues below advertisement

Billions of dollars have flowed into the Canadian financial-technology and payments sector in recent months in a flood of public listings, private financings and major acquisitions.

Montreal-based payments company Nuvei Corp. closed the Toronto Stock Exchange’s largest-ever tech initial public offering in September. Nasdaq Inc. bought the St. John’s-based fraud-detection software company Verafin in November for US$2.75-billion. Montreal’s Lightspeed POS Inc. bought two U.S. restaurant-management software companies for more than US$400-million apiece. Toronto wealth-management scale-up WealthSimple Technologies Inc. raised $114-million in October.

And on Tuesday, the Toronto-based free credit-score provider Borrowell – which, like WealthSimple, is backed by Power Financial’s Portag3 Ventures – said it had bought British Columbia’s Refresh Financial, which helps clients get better access to credit.

Though Borrowell gives clients credit scores and financial coaching for free, it makes revenue through referrals to financial services companies whose products and services align with clients’ financial goals. The company has worked with Refresh in this capacity for three years: Refresh’s products, including credit-building loans and secured Visa cards, are designed to improve a person’s credit.

“By bringing them in-house, we can do an even better job at identifying how consumers can use those [tools] productively,” Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham said in an interview. “And by using these products, we can recommend what can come next.”

The companies declined to share the value of the transaction, but Mr. Graham said the acquisition would double both Borrowell’s headcount and revenue. Borrowell had 65 employees before the acquisition.

Story continues below advertisement

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies