During WeLab’s (我来货) 2020 strategy and partner conference on December 12, it announced the completion of Series C round of financing worth CNY 1.1 billion (equivalent to USD160 million) led by Alibaba Group (阿里巴巴集团). Another renowned investor CCB International (建银国际) also participated in the C round.
Both Alibaba Group and CCB International were also involved in WeLab’s previous funding. The company has held four financing rounds in the last four years, accumulating an estimated funds of USD 540 million.
Founded in 2013, WeLab is the pioneer in China’s online lending scene. Using proprietary risk management technology, WeLab is able to provide financing services and consumer financing solutions for its customers. Cooperating with traditional financial institutions, WeLab also offers B2B enterprise solutions. Its value proposition is that the company is offering flexible cash instalment.
The record-breaking funding will be mainly used for a more extensive technological frame and to broaden its financial service expansion. These goals can be achieved through the improvement of algorithms and computing power, applying innovative technologies to more of its financial mechanisms, cultivating virtual banking and fintech output services, and tapping into more products and innovative business models in the existing markets.
The Hong Kong-based company has been experiencing a rapid growth in recent years. It is reported that as of December 2019, WeLab has served over 41 million customers, with business coverage spanning mainland China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The number of micro finance loan applications has surged by as much as 418% compared to 2018.
The company currently boasts six brands across the markets: ‘Welend’ as an online loan platform and ‘WeLab Bank’ as virtual banking in Hong Kong; ‘Wolaishuke (我来数科)’ as an online fintech platform, ‘Taoxinji (淘新机) as a cutting-edge leasing platform, and a one-stop fintech service provider ‘Tianmian Big Data Lab (天冕大数据实验室),’ for mainland China; and a fintech company ‘AWDA,’ a joint venture project with Astra group in Indonesia.
Some of the most notable international fintech companies offering similar loan services include Boston-based Forward Financing and New York-based Lending. Forward Financing is also utilizing proprietary technology to provide instant financing for businesses. Lending provides quick service loans specifically to small enterprises.
The global digital lending platform market size in 2018 was estimated to be USD 4.8 billion, and is projected to reach USD 19.9 billion by 2026, with a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19.6% in the period of 2019 to 2026. However, these types of online loan services are increasingly being implemented by commercial banks as well, hence competition in this sector is expected to be fierce.