Venture

Tala, A Digital Lending Startup, Raises $110M, Eyes India For Expansion

To help over three billion underbanked adults have a chance at a loan, Tala has raised $110 million in a Series D round led by RPS.

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Shivani Siroya, the founder and CEO of the Santa Monica digital lending company, claims there are 3 billion adults around the globe who “do not have access to basic financial services, like the ability to borrow, save, or grow their money.”

The company currently has 500 employees across locations in Southern California, Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines, and India. The new money will be used to expand its India presence, as well offer new services. To date, Tala has raised $219.4 million in funding from investors like Revolution, Institutional Venture Partners, and PayPal Ventures.

On it’s website, Tala claims that “anyone with an Android smartphone can apply for a loan and receive an instant decision, regardless of their credit history.” Loans range from $10 to $500 dollars.

But that loan size, in some cases, turns into notable difference. For example, it helped a father in Kenya pay for his son’s university fees. Or an entrepreneur in the same region start a car washing business.

If all works well, individuals who are deserving of loans but don’t have the infrastructure to sell anyone on their story will get the loan.

We’ve been tracking the heat up of the broader digital lending space. Yesterday, for example, Better.com raised $160 million Series C for digital mortgages. Better has funded more than $4 billion in loans since its product went live in 2016.  And the elephant in the room, SoFi, which provides loans and wealth management, has raised a whopping $2.5 billion, making it one of the most well-funded startups in the fintech and lending sector.

And for Tala, the future looks bright, at least in terms of investor interest. Billions have been deployed into similar startups, and there’s a plentiful pipeline for late-stage deals: from January 1, 2014 to today, over 50 percent of venture investments into lending and investment startups were in the Seed stage.

However, venture capital dollars don’t tell the whole story. Lending is a difficult space to operate in. SoFi, for instance, has struggled to keep staff from doling out improper loans in an effort to boost their own bonuses. And aside from high-profile executive turnovers, SoFi has also struggled to meet growth goals, leading to layoffs.

Regardless, Tala raising a supergiant round puts it in a new cohort of competitors. And for those looking for accessible and quick loans, there likely has never been so many options on the table.

Methodology

Funding analysis for investment and lending startups was based off of Crunchbase’s category group “lending and investments.” The startups included in this category group are determined by automation and manual curation, leaving some room for error in classification. Therefore, investment totals should be taken directionally. Additionally, only funding rounds that were labeled as seed, early-stage, or late-stage were included in yearly funding totals. Notably, Ant Financial significantly skews funding totals. In 2016, Ant Financial’s $4.5 billion Series B accounted for over half of total venture funding in the lending and investments category. Ant Financial similarly impacts known funding totals in 2018 with its $14 billion Series C raise. For the numbers behind the chart, visit this Crunchbase Pro query.

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