One of the fastest growing fintechs in China has raised $ 220 million. WeLab, a Hong Kong-based mobile lending platform founded in 2013, closed a $ 220 million funding round, comprising both strategic debt and equity financing, with support from Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and other global banks. This funding brings WeLab’s total funding to USD 425 million
WeLab’s first backers include CK Hutchison’s TOM group, Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Sequoia Capital. WeLab completed a previous cycle in 2016 for US $ 160 million, which was reported as the world’s second largest Fintech B series of the year, according to KPMG and CB Insights.
Founder and CEO of WeLab Simon loong commented on the funding;
âFor this round of strategic funding, it was important for us to have participants who would help us take our business to the next level. We have been able to strengthen our cash position, further diversify our funding sources and strengthen our relationships with the world’s leading financial organizations. This will support our history of growth and allow us to bring even greater fintech innovation to the world’s fastest growing market. “
WeLab operates in China and Hong Kong and has grown rapidly, capturing 25 million users and processing $ 28 billion in loans. WeLab operates Wolaidai (æ æ¥ è´·), one of China’s largest mobile lending platforms, as well as WeLend, Hong Kong’s leading online lending platform. WeLab uses proprietary risk management technology that analyzes unstructured mobile big data in seconds to make credit decisions for individual borrowers. The company also licenses its technology to banks and telecommunications companies.
WeLab plans to use the funds to develop its cutting-edge credit technology, expand its fast-growing business, and accelerate its expansion into new products and geographies beyond Greater China.
âWith a particular focus on developing innovation and entrepreneurship in Hong Kong, we are investing in promising Hong Kong companies with breakthrough business models and technologies. We were drawn to WeLab because of its innovative business model. As one of the fastest growing fintech companies in Hong Kong and the mainland, we look forward to working with the team and supporting their future expansion, âadded Cindy Chow, Executive Director of Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneur Fund.
Swiss credit participated in the financing and acted as placement agent. Mervyn Chow, CEO of Greater China and Co-Head of Investment Banking & Capital Markets, Asia-Pacific for Credit Suisse, said WeLab has established itself as an exceptional fintech company with innovative products and cutting-edge technology.
âCredit Suisse is committed to meeting the diverse financing needs of entrepreneurs and we are proud to play a role in helping WeLab access the capital necessary to fund its continued growth,â said Chow.
Part of WeLab’s mission is to improve financial inclusion through technology. According to the World Bank, 36% of the Chinese population aged 15 and over has borrowed money, but only 10% have successfully borrowed from a financial institution. By providing a first mobile solution that does not depend on consumers with established credit histories, WeLab has been able to provide formal financing and loans to consumers in a more efficient, direct and inclusive manner.
âWeLab has demonstrated its ability to effectively make credit decisions based on non-traditional, but otherwise reliable, data for millions of Chinese borrowers with no credit history,â said Andi Dervishi, Fintech Investment Group Head of IFC, member of the World Bank Group. âWe believe that the company’s strategic partnership with banks will result in a sustainable competitive advantage for the company. Likewise, consumers will benefit from better access to credit and building a credit history, an important step towards financial inclusion.