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Australian Fintech Startup Athena Raises $70M To ‘Free People From Mortgage Handcuffs’

Athena Home Loans, a fast-growing Australian fintech startup, has raised a $70 million Series C in its third round of funding in less than 18 months.

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The company, which has developed a mortgage loan platform, set a local record with the latest financing, according to Australian Financial Review, “closing the largest capital raise ever led by local venture funds.”

AustralianSuper led the round, which also included participation from Square Peg Capital, Salesforce Ventures 1Salesforce Ventures is an investor in Crunchbase. They have no say in our editorial process. For more, head here./footnote] NAB Ventures, Hostplus and AirTree Ventures. The latest infusion brings its total raised to $113 million, according to its Crunchbase profile, and is more than triple the amount of the $25 million Series B it raised last November. Athena Home Loans is now valued at $230 million, according to the Financial Review.

The company plans to use the new capital primarily to expand into home loans, the publication reported, after an initial focus on the refinancing market. It also aims to “start offering loans for property purchases, which is a substantially bigger market,” noted the Review.

Athena Home Loans was founded in 2017 by former bankers Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey with the goal of “freeing people from the mortgage handcuffs” (per itself) but did not formally launch its digital lending platform until February of 2019. Within its first three days of launching, the company surpassed $250 million in home loan applications, according to a press release  issued earlier this year by partner Austin-based Q2 Holdings. As of April 2019, Athena had “written more than $500 million worth of loans,” according to the Financial Review.

I reached out to the company for more specifics and a spokesperson told me that Athena has had over $4 billion in submitted apps since its launch. Also, in October alone, Athena saw more than $1.2 billion in applications since announcing that it had passed on the RBA rate cut in full.

Q2 Holdings powers Athena’s cloud-based platform, which gives users the ability to apply for a loan in “as little as 15 minutes and receive a decision in a matter of minutes.” Athena claims to save borrowers an average of $60,000 over the life of their loan.

There’s no shortage of digital lending platforms here in the United States. We’ve written about a few of them (for example, in June, mortgage tech startup Blend, raised $130 million). But Athena’s goal is to disrupt Australia’s $1.7 trillion mortgage market, which it says is dominated by banks.

For more on the Australian startup scene, check out Natasha’s piece from earlier this year.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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