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国际资讯投融资

为银行提供小额贷款筛选服务,ZestMoney获1340万美元融资

国际资讯投融资

为银行提供小额贷款筛选服务,ZestMoney获1340万美元融资

近日,小米领投了印度金融科技创企ZestMoney的1340万美元融资。这家刚刚上市的中国公司曾表示会在5年内为印度创企投资10亿美元。之前它还投资过借贷平台KrazyBee。

这笔资金是对ZestMoney最近刚完成的650万美元A轮融资的加码,目前公司的融资总额已达到2200万美元。这1340万美元中还有PayU、Ribbit Capital和Omidyar Network三位现有投资人的参与。

ZestMoney由英国创业者Lizzie Chapman创立于2015年,他于2011年搬至印度,当时他是为了领导发薪日贷款创企Wonga在印度的部门,据报道Wonga后来倒闭。随后Chapman将之前的同事Ashish Anantharaman和Priya Sharma组织起来,三个人建立了ZestMoney。

尽管和Wonga有着密切的关系,但ZestMoney是从一个完全不同的角度去解决消费贷款问题。

发行日贷款公司一直因为其受限制的条款而受到批评,这种商业模式只有在客户无法按期偿还贷款时,才能获取最高利润。

相反,ZestMoney以及其他亚洲贷款服务更加以消费者为中心。也就是说这种商业模式只有在消费者按时偿还贷款时,才能盈利,而它的条款对于客户也更加友好。

“新时代的金融科技更加乐观。它就是要告诉你‘表现好,做好事,你就能得到更低的贷款利息’。”Chapman在采访中告诉外媒。

这家创企也和银行建立了合作,而不是和银行竞争。

这完全行得通,因为它发放的小额贷款,与传统印度银行的思维模式相反。这些数额在200美元到300美元之间的贷款因为金额太小而无法带来可观的营收,而银行业不适合去吸引数量众多的小额贷款者。

这里存在一个数据的问题,在美国、英国等西方国家并没有碰到这种问题。几乎没有多少消费者拥有信用积分,也就是说银行不确定贷款者是否会携款逃跑。

这也解释了为何银行不会提供这种服务,而ZestMoney可以。

这家公司实质上就是为银行充当一个筛选器,它能带来大量的小额贷款客户。ZestMoney每月要处理20万笔贷款申请,Chapman表示这主要是一些单次购买的商品,购买电子设备、学费和度假费用是贷款的主要原因。但该服务也鼓励回头客,因为这能提供数据去验证将来的贷款。

Xiaomi  has continued its investment in India after it led a $13.4 million round for fintech startup ZestMoney.

The newly-public Chinese firm previously said it would invest up to $1 billion in India and Indian startups over a five-year period, and this deal follows its maiden India fintech investment in lending platform KrazyBee.

The new capital is an extension to ZestMoney’s recently closed $6.5 million Series A, and it takes the company to $22 million raised to date. Existing backers PayU,  Ribbit Capital  and Omidyar Network joined Xiaomi in this ‘Series A2’ round.

ZestMoney was founded in 2015 by British entrepreneur Lizzie Chapman, who moved to India in 2011 to head up payday loan startup Wonga’s  division in the country. Wonga — which is reportedly close to shutting down — didn’t ultimately pursue that opportunity. After a spell consulting, Chapman reunited with her former Wonga India colleagues Ashish Anantharaman and Priya Sharma and the trio launched ZestMoney.

Despite close ties to Wonga, it’s fair to say that ZestMoney comes at the problem of consumer loans from a totally different direction.

Payday loan companies have (rightly) come under fire for restrictive terms and a business model that is most lucrative when customers pay back late or default on loans.

In contrast, ZestMoney — and other loan services across Asia — are much more consumer-centric. That’s to say that the businesses monetize when consumers pay back their loans, while terms are considerably more customer friendly.

“New age fintech is much more optimistic” than what’s come before, Chapman told TechCrunch in an interview. “The thesis is ‘Behave well and do good things and you’ll get cheaper pricing.'”

The startup also works with banks, rather than against them.

That makes plenty of sense because the idea of giving microloans runs counter to any kind of orthodox thinking at banks in India. Loans of $200-$300 are too small to yield any significant revenue, and banks aren’t in a position go out there and attract thousands of small loans customers that would make it viable.

Then there’s the issue of data. It simply doesn’t exist in the same way it does in the U.S, UK and other Western markets. Few consumers have a credit score, which in conventional banking terms would mean lenders are taking a stab in the dark backing them.

That explanation plus the low volume explains why banks don’t offer the services themselves, but it also goes somehow to understanding why startups like ZestMoney can.

They can essentially act like a funnel for banks, bringing in significant volumes of micro-loan customers by specializing on that area of financing. In ZestMoney’s case, that’s 200,000 applications per month. While by focusing on financial support for single-purchase items — Chapman said electronics, education and learning, and vacations are among the top reasons for loans — the service encourages repeat customers, which in turn provides data which can help vet potential loans.

Added to that, it is also in the common interest within the tech ecosystem to encourage more flexible financing.

Companies like Amazon  and Flipkart,  which are keen to tap the growth potential of India’s 1.3 billion population, acknowledge that more flexible payment solutions are necessary when the average salary is orders of magnitudes lower than say the U.S. That’s why these e-commerce companies and others work with ZestMoney to subsidize many of the costs around loans. The startup passes that on to consumers, meaning that, often, they get attractive interest-free rates on big-ticket items likes phones or computers.

Chapman concedes that this situation won’t last forever, but she said it helps gain initial reach among some new users and encourage repeat business from existing customers.

Indeed, Xiaomi and ZestMoney have collaborated in a similar way before.

The Chinese firm tapped the startup one year ago to develop its Mi Finance service for Xiaomi customers in India. That relationship, which Chapman said included reciprocal learnings on both sides, led to this week’s investment deal.

ZestMoney is eying a larger round of funding soon as it aims to ramp up its business, and particularly technology. Chapman said the firm is focusing on AI and facial/voice recognition which she believes will enable her company to go beyond tier-one cities in India and reach those who are less comfortable with English and are less experienced in using the internet and digital services.

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