BEIJING, March 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — CreditEase, a Beijing-based leading FinTech conglomerate in China, announced that its venture fund, CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund (“CEFIF”), recently joined a group of prestigious investors to participate in the Series B investment round of $70 million in Branch International. Other strategic investors in this round of financing include International Finance Corporation (IFC), Andreessen Horowitz, Trinity Ventures and Victory Park. Already the most popular finance app in Africa, Branch International uses data science to provide financial services to over 1 million borrowers in emerging markets in a cost-efficient way.
Subsequent to the investment, Anju Patwardhan, Managing Director of CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund, will join as a board advisor.
Founded in 2015, Branch has grown rapidly into the top finance app by its mobile-first “branchless bank” service in Africa. Branch plans to use the proceeds from the Series B round investment to fund its continued expansion within the African market and to launch its services in India. The company also plans to expand its product offerings beyond micro-lending into savings and payments.
Before starting Branch, Matt Flannery was the Co-founder and CEO of the world’s leading non-profit lender Kiva. Matt Flannery, Co-founder and CEO of Branch, commented, “I’ve been working in microfinance — specifically in Africa — my whole career. Over the past decade, I witnessed the rapid spread of technology in the region. Microfinance has been slow to adopt mobile technologies, and customers have not reaped the benefits of quicker access to capital and more efficient pricing. After years of trying to change microfinance institutions from the outside, I decided to start one myself.”
According to the report recently published by CreditEase, jointly with IFC and Stanford Business School, there are over two billion adults globally in the emerging markets who do not have access to basic financial services. On a daily basis, Branch processes tens of thousands of loans, in amounts ranging from $2.50 to $500, and expects its total loan origination to exceed $250 million in 2018. Recently entered into the Nigerian market, Branch is currently growing 50 percent month-over-month within that country and 20% month-over-month overall.
Anju Patwardhan, Managing Director of CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund, commented, “A financial revolution is taking place in emerging markets, supported by increasing penetration of smart phones, availability of alternative data sources and changing consumer mindsets. There is a huge unmet demand for financial services in emerging markets. FinTech companies like Branch are leveraging these mobile technologies and their deep local market knowledge to capture these unprecedented market opportunities and promote financial inclusion.”
“Matt is a seasoned entrepreneur with a great track record, as he led Kiva for 10 years to disburse over $1 billion in loans to small businesses in over 80 countries. We are pleased with the Branch team’s track record and insights into these fast-growing markets, and we look forward to leveraging our CreditEase expertise in our new partnership with Branch International,” Ms. Patwardhan concluded.