One of America’s largest banks has just poured some money to help millions of Indians without a credit score secure loans and make purchases online for the first time in their lives.
Bangalore-based ZestMoney announced today it has raised $15 million from Goldman Sachs and existing investors Naspers Fintech, Quona Capital, and Omidyar Network. Lizzie Chapman, co-founder and chief executive of ZestMoney, told TechCrunch in an interview that the new investment is part of an extended Series B round, the first tranche of which it announced in April this year.
The extended Series B round brings ZestMoney’s total raise to-date to $63 million, she said.
The penetration of credit cards remains very low in India; roughly three in 100 people in the country have a credit card. This has meant that very few people in the nation have a traditional credit score, which banks heavily rely on to establish one’s credit worthiness before issuing them a loan.
Moreover, small loans don’t generate lucrative returns for banks, giving them less incentive to write such cheques. In recent years, a growing number of Indian startups has stepped in to address this void.
ZestMoney assesses other data points and uses AI to help these people build a profile and become credit-worthy. The startup has partnered with over 3,000 merchants (up from some 800 in late April), including Flipkart, Amazon, and Paytm, to offer financing options at point-of-sale.
It has amassed more than 6 million users, who can access credit between $140 to $3,000 in credit. To make the deal even better, many of these merchants offer internet-free options to customers, provided they could pay back in a specified amount of time.
The startup, which has partnership with nearly every online payments processor including Razorpay, BillDesk, Cashfree, CCAvenue, and PayU, has also made a push in the brick and mortar market, by inking deals with Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, and Pine Labs, which has over 300,000 point-of-sale machines across the country.
ZestMoney has also raised an unspecified amount of debt, which it uses to finance the credit to customers. It recently entered in a strategic partnership with Credit Saison, a Japanese financial services company affiliated to Mizuho Financial Group, to deploy $100 million towards expanding digital lending in the country.
Philip Aldis, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, said its investment in ZestMoney would enable more households in India to access credit. “We look forward to leveraging our global experience and network for the continued growth of ZestMoney,” he said.
Goldman Sachs has invested in a handful of startups in India, including logistics startup BlackBuck, home rental platform NextAway, news aggregator DailyHunt, and online furniture store PepperFry.
The New York-headquartered firm, which is one of the world’s largest trading banks, has also invested in a number of financial startups including NuBank, a Brazilian startup that offers digital credit card to smartphone users. It is also the banking partner for Apple Card.
ZestMoney aims to disburse credit of worth $1 billion in 18 months. The startup says it aims to reach 300 million users one day.
This post was originally posted at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/dSwWFhccClY/.