Mobile loans apps have been booming for the past half a decade or so. It is a lucrative market that continues to see new players. However, the popularity of these platforms has been spearheaded by key products such as M-Shwari, Branch and Tala, to mention a few.
Branch, which operates in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, is a household name locally. The ‘branchless bank’ has been offering loans to people with less hassle and minimal requirements, a process that has bolstered its growth significantly with over 1 million unique borrowers across its turf.
Today, the firm has announced a $70 million series B investment to conquer new markets in the near future. The funds will also allow it to add more features in the app, including the ability to make savings and payments. The last two additions mean that Branch will only be a few steps shy of Timiza’s feature set that also snuck in insurance service during its launch a fortnight or so ago.
It is worth noting that Branch chose the savings route thanks to a study done by McKinsey that highlighted lack of such services to about 2 billion people and 200 million small businesses.
India will be Branch’s next market in an activity that clearly aims to expand the institution’s operations. At the moment, Branch processes tens of thousands of loans daily in amounts that range from KES 300 to KES 50,000. Its growth is marked by a 20 percent month-over-month jump and expects to disburse $250 million in 2018.
Trinity Ventures features as the key contributor of the $70 million Series B investment that incorporates debt and equity. Trinity’s General Partner Schwark Satyavolu will join Branch as one of the board directors. Additional participants include Victory Park, International Finance Corporation (IFC), Andreessen Horowitz and CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund. Also, Anju Patwardhan of CreditEase will also join Branch’s Board.
“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,” says Branch CEO Matt Flannery.
“In America, financial services are well-established, and the smartphone market is mature. By contrast, millions of consumers in emerging markets lack access to basic financial offerings like credit. Meanwhile, smartphone adoption in those countries is accelerating at break-neck speed,” said Trinity Ventures general partner Schwark Satyavolu. “Because of the confluence of these two megatrends – the tremendous gap in financial service offerings and the rapid rise of the platform able to deliver them – and because of the team’s incredible bench of talent, I’m excited to invest in Branch and am bullish on its future.”