WeLab, a tech startup headquartered in Hong Kong and operating in the financial services sector has just announced raising of its Series B+ financing round. The company has raised a sum total of two hundred and twenty million USD in both debt and equity financing.
This new round of fresh funds brings the total sum raised by WeLab to a sizeable four hundred and twenty five million USD. The Series B+ financing round saw participation from marquee investors such as Alibaba through its Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, World Bank's International Finance Corporation and Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse also played the role of the placement agent for the round.
The company has chosen to not make its valuation public post the last round of fundraising. Simon Loong, CEO and Founder in a statement addressed the rumours surrounding a possible near term Initial Public Offering commenting that “it's too early to talk about IPOs”. He did however state that the firm is keeping a sharp lookout on the IPO horizon with regard to competitor IPOs. He agrees that most of the Fintech IPOs at the moment have similar profiles to that of WeLab, with quite a few of them starting in 2012-13.
WeLab’s primary customers are individuals and small businesses that do not have sufficient credit worthiness as established by the traditional banking system. Devoid of low interest rate loans , these people generally look to friends and family for loans. Some lucky ones manage to avail the special microloan schemes.
WeLab’s own proprietary platform allows the customers to apply and submit the loan application via a smartphone based app in an extremely efficient manner. The company has nurtured its current ability to dish out loans in matter of minutes.
WeLab does its own creditworthiness check from data gathered from online sources, including bill payment records and social media profiles, using its proprietary technology, which it also licenses to banks and telecom companies.
The company was founded in the year 2013 and currently lays claim on an active customer base of twenty five million. The company has managed to do business worth twenty eight billion USD till date. Loong plans to utilize the freshly acquired firepower to liaise with an even greater number of banks, thereby developing even better financial products and services aggressively expanding into Southeast Asia.
At the moment, the firm has tie-ups with a total of forty banks. The company also aims to develop its own artificial intelligence platform to better help detect frauds, lower its operating costs and in turn help in the building of a better customer experience.
The company sees a massive untapped market in the Southeast of Asia with 73% of the 600 million strong population not having access to banking facilities. An extremely high mobile penetration too adds to this exotic concoction.
Alibaba’s interest in the venture is a given, considering its own subsidiary companies Ant Financial and AliPay leveraging technology to disrupt the traditional banking system in mainland China. Cindy Chow, Executive Director of the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund states that the fund is aimed at making investments only in businesses aimed at developing innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong.