Investment, Venture Capital

Alibaba Fund, IFC Join $220M Round In HK Mobile Lending Firm WeLab

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Hong Kong-based mobile lending start-up WeLab has raised a US$220 million series B+ round from Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, International Finance Corp, Credit Suisse and others.

The round brings the start-up’s total fundraising to US$425 million, following a US$160 million series B round last year. It refused to disclose its valuation in the round.

Founded in 2013, WeLab is a mobile lending company operating across the Greater China region. With proprietary risk management technology, WeLab claims it can analyze unstructured mobile big data within seconds to make credit decisions for individual borrowers. It also licenses its technology to banks and telecom companies.

According to the World Bank, 36% of China’s population aged 15 and above has borrowed money, but only 10% managed to borrow from a financial institution. WeLab says it can provide formal financing and loans to consumers in a more efficient fashion.

"We have been focusing on pushing the innovation in Hong Kong and invest in companies with innovative business model and technologies," said Cindy Chow, Executive Director of Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund. "WeLab is the fastest growing fintech company in Hong Kong and mainland China and we are attracted by their innovative business model. We are looking forward to cooperating with the team and supporting its expansion."

The firm now has over 25 million users and US$28 billion in processed loans. It said two months ago in a conference that the company was actively looking for strategic partnership in Southeast Asia to expand its business in the region.

WeLab previously raised a US$160 million series B round in January last year led by Malaysia’s state fund Khazanah Nasional, with participation from ING Bank and Guangdong Financial Technology Group. One year prior, the company also completed a US$20 million series A round from DST Global’s founder Yuri Milner, U.S. investment advisor Iconiq Capital, Hong Kong-listed Chinese media conglomerate TOM Group and Sequoia Capital.

It plans to use the latest proceeds to develop its credit technology and expand its business outside of China.


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