PayPal Vets Bring Full-Stack Embedded Finance Platform Out of Stealth With $54M Raise with Top Fintech VCs

January 18, 2022


Highnote is the most modern purpose-built card issuing platform, offering speed-to-market and customization that pushes payments innovation to the edge

Highnote, the world’s most modern card platform purpose-built for embedded card experiences, today announced its emergence from stealth with $54 million in combined funding from both a Seed and Series A round. Oak HC/FT led the Series A and co-led the Seed with Costanoa Ventures, with participation from XYZ, SVB Capital, and WestCap. Bill Ready, President of Commerce & Payments at Google (former COO of PayPal [PYPL]), and Renaud Laplanche, CEO of Upgrade, also participated as angel investors.

Consumer expectations are changing, and frictionless payments are table stakes. Customers now expect a fast and easy process when paying for things, whether that’s a rideshare trip, a coffee, or a health insurance bill. That capability, called embedded finance, is poised to be a $3.6 trillion market over the next decade in the US alone.

While companies like Amazon, Shopify, and Apple can meet this demand thanks to vast resources and armies of engineers, small and mid-sized companies can only rely on legacy providers who offer clunky, decade-old platforms which don’t give them control and require lengthy implementations.

Highnote is the first card issuing platform specifically built for small and mid-sized companies. Founded by John Macllwaine, former General Manager at Braintree (a PayPal [PYPL] company) and Kin Kee, former Director of Architecture at Braintree, Highnote empowers innovative companies to differentiate themselves through embedded payment experiences. With Highnote, companies can dramatically reduce their speed to market without sacrificing the flexibility needed to build customer loyalty and engagement.

“Highnote's ability to act as the issuer and the processor allows us to own the user experience while also providing significantly better revenue generation and lower cost of ownership than any other solutions we evaluated,” said Aman Magoon, Head of Product at Nayya, a leading healthcare technology company helping Americans better protect themselves through smarter health, insurance, and finance decisions. “The team has deep domain expertise in payments and really understands what it takes for non-fintech enterprises to seamlessly embed card programs into their core offerings to drive growth, and we've been really impressed with what we've seen so far.”

Highnote’s platform provides the following benefits:

  • Speed to Market: Highnote’s platform significantly reduces the time it takes a company to launch a card, from four to eight months to just weeks. By embedding capabilities like compliance and fraud detection, operating with the highest-performance tech stack, and serving as both a card issuer and processor, Highnote helps companies launch cards and related financial services faster than existing card issuance platforms.
  • Simplicity: Highnote offers one simple, easy-to-use platform for everything a company may need to start offering payment experiences. It is built with low-code APIs that help small, nimble developer teams compete with much larger companies.
  • Flexibility: Small and medium-sized businesses are currently stuck with rigid “one-size-fits-all” platforms built a decade or more ago. Highnote gives developers the flexibility to customize their payments experiences to suit their organizations’ unique and fast-changing needs while gathering data in real time and continuously improving their product for their users.

Highnote’s funding will be used to grow its product and engineering teams as it continues to build out its platform to include instant credit issuance, full-stack acquiring, and global expansion.

The enthusiasm for Highnote’s product is also shared by its investors.

“We’ve backed many of the leading companies in the fintech space, but there is something really special about John, Kin, and their team,” said Matt Streisfeld, Partner at Oak HC/FT. “We understand the many challenges enterprises currently face in embedding payments capabilities to drive customer engagement, loyalty, and revenue, as well as for consumers and SMBs that need access to wages and funds immediately. We see a massive opportunity emerging to whomever is able to crack the code. We’re building that at Highnote, and as a result, we are thrilled to provide the support they need to continue their incredible velocity.” 

“This team’s ambitious vision for a modern card platform and innovative embedded finance simply blew us away,” said Greg Sands, Managing Director of Costanoa Ventures. “We genuinely believe they have the power to change how any company doing commerce envisions what’s possible for their customer experience.”

About Highnote

Highnote is the world’s most modern card platform, purpose-built to realize customer loyalty and engagement through embedded card experiences. Its fully integrated tech stack provides every service needed for innovative companies to launch new ways to use card payments. Utilizing the Highnote platform, clients launch virtual card programs in weeks, not months, to create compelling value for their customers. The company has raised more than $54 million from leading investors and strategic partners and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For additional information, please visit, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Oak HC/FT

Oak HC/FT is a venture and growth equity firm investing in companies driving transformation in healthcare and fintech, two uniquely complementary and high-growth sectors. With deep domain expertise and strategic resources, Oak HC/FT partners with leading entrepreneurs at every stage, from seed to growth, to build businesses that make a measurable, lasting impact on these industries. Founded in 2014, the firm has $3.3 billion in assets under management and is headquartered in Greenwich, CT, with investors in San Francisco and Boston. Follow Oak HC/FT on Twitter and LinkedIn and learn more at

About Costanoa Ventures

Costanoa Ventures is an early-stage boutique venture firm backing tenacious and thoughtful founders who change how business gets done. Costanoa seeks to be a long-term partner to entrepreneurs rethinking data, infrastructure, fintech and verticals and who want to build durable companies. For more information, please visit