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Credit Karma has acquired an instant message bot, Penny, that helps people track their spending

The $3 billion company continues to expand beyond its credit roots.

Penny interface showing spending charts
Penny’s chat interface
Credit Karma

Credit Karma, the credit-checking startup that’s valued at over $3 billion, has acquired a young personal finance company, Penny, the companies tell Recode.

Penny is like other apps that allow users to track their cash and spending habits. But what makes the three-year-old, Y Combinator-backed startup different from better-known companies like Mint is its chat interface that allows the consumer to have a conversation with a bot and, for instance, ask questions about their month-over-month spending.

So Credit Karma is adding that interface to its arsenal as it seeks to move beyond merely offering credit scores and serve as a broader personal finance concierge. Now the company can combine its existing data on its customers with a user interface that allows Credit Karma to serve a bigger purpose as a personal finance coach.

“If I’m going to simply provide you your credit score, I don’t need to have a conversation with you. I just need to present the data,” said Credit Karma product chief Nikhyl Singhal. “Our goal is to tackle a more complicated thing — to tackle something like helping people with an auto loan or a mortgage is not a simple one- or two-step conversation. It’s a multi-step, highly complicated conversation.”

Credit Karma did not disclose the deal terms, but Penny hasn’t even raised a Series A round — it was about to fundraise before being bought — so this is a small acquisition. Credit Karma is taking the chat technology and Penny’s five engineers.

This is only Credit Karma’s fourth acquisition in its 11-year history. The company in recent years has added services like tax prep and mortgage refinancing as it remakes itself a bit during what are generally tough times for the fintech industry.

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