Tala, a digital lending company, has raised $145 million in a new Series E funding round. The funding was led by Upstart with participation from the Stellar Development Foundation —the nonprofit arm of the Stellar network.
New investors Kindred Ventures and the J. Safra Group, and existing investors IVP, Revolution Growth, Lowercase Capital, and PayPal, also participated, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $350 million.
Founded in 2011 by Shivani Siroya, Tala provides small businesses and individuals access to financial services and working capital, to help them start and expand their businesses, and manage basic needs. In 2014, the company launched its mobile application to offer credit and collateral-free loans to consumers in Kenya and has since extended its services to the Philippines, Mexico, and India. Currently, Tala has more than 6 million users across these four markets, and the company claims to have lent $2.7 billion to its customers since its inception. The users, Tala said, “have used over 680,000 access points and mobile agents to cash out and repay, and have spent more than 108,000 hours reading over 156 educational articles in its app.”
According to Tala, 12,000 new users sign up every day to access credit. The company, realizing the need, wants to make credit more accessible, and with the new fund, plans to broaden its offerings, which will include crypto services. “We’ll use this investment to provide those services and accelerate the rollout of our new financial account experience, which provides fresh new tools to grow, save, and manage your money. We’ll also work to develop one of the first mass-market crypto products for emerging markets to help make crypto solutions more affordable and equitable for those who need them most,” Tala said.
Tala plans to use blockchain-based finance to improve its capital market strategy and connect investors and borrowers to its platform. Its partnership with Upstart and the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF)— two investors in the round, is critical in actualizing this goal.
With its artificial intelligence lending platform, Upstart has assisted banks and credit unions originate more than $13 billion worth of loans. As such, Upstart is expected to help Tala become even better in terms of its credit offerings. At the same time, The Stellar Development Foundation leverages interoperability with the world’s existing financial systems, and Tala will use the company’s know-how to leverage crypto to take its platform to the next level. Following the latest fundraise, Paul Gu and Denelle Dixon, the Co-founder of Upstart and the Chief Executive Officer of the Stellar Development Foundation respectively, will join Tala’s board of directors.
In addition to broadening its offerings, Tala plans to expand its team across the four markets it operates, and the United States, where it is based. The company also mentioned that it has plans to enter new markets, but did not specifically state which markets.