Africa’s most downloaded lending platform with headquarter in San Francisco, Branch International has raised a $170 million Series C investment led by Foundation Capital with participation from B Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8 and Trinity Ventures. The company also announced a new partnership with Visa.
The company which has over three million customers and deployed more than 15 million loans in countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mexico and India said the investment would enable it build its presence in India and Latin America. The partnership with Visa also gives Branch access to a global network of ATMs which will help borrowers withdraw funds from an ATM using a virtual code sent to their smartphone. Customers do not need to use physical debit or bank accounts to access the loans.
Prior to the announcement, Branch customers had to visit a local convenience store or bank branch to retrieve their loan using a code sent to their smartphone.
According to Matt Flannery, Branch’s co-founder and CEO, the company is working to expand access to credit in countries where the average middle class borrower might not have a credit history or even a bank account.
“As we look to the future, we are looking for the opportunity to reach people who are outside the formal economy or in places that are underserved,” said Bill Sheedy, Visa’s executive vice president of strategy who also joins the board of Branch following the new investment. “It is about tapping into their distribution to help shape the future of microfinance.”
Branch opened its India office in March 2019 and has since amassed about 30,000 customers through word of mouth according to a report by Forbes.
“I think it speaks to the latent demand,” Flannery said referring to the growth in India.
“Since we have gone live in India with our app, we have received tens of thousands of loan applications from all over the country,” says Charishma Chotalia, general manager of Branch India. “As we start to expand our product portfolio, we see India becoming a crucial market for them. The current series of funding will help us build our India operations to deliver simple, fast and reliable credit for our customers.”