LGT Lightstone Aspada leads funding round in microlender SmartCoin
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SmartCoin Financials Pvt. Ltd, which operates a micro-lending startup focussed on self-employed workers and small merchants, has raised $7 million (approximately Rs 51.74 crore at current exchange rates) in a funding round, according to several reports.

The round has been led by LGT Lightstone Aspada, the India-oriented impact investment arm of the LGT Lightstone, The Economic Times reported citing company executives.

Existing investors Unicorn India Ventures and Accion Venture Lab also participated in the round.

This is LGT Lightstone Aspada’s second reported bet this month. The impact unit also took part in a $6 million (around Rs 44 crore) pre-Series B funding round in Arya Collateral Warehousing Services Pvt. Ltd, a post-harvest services-focused agricultural technology platform.

The Bengaluru-based startup said it will use the funds to grow its loan book to at least Rs 1,500 crore (around $203 million). The firm, which received its non-banking financial licence last year, also aims to double its user base to 10 million over the next 12 months.

Rohit Garg, co-founder at SmartCoin, said the startup has been leveraging data and machine learning through its proprietary platform to analyse customer creditworthiness and income histories.

Bengaluru-based Unitus Capital acted as the financial advisor to the SmartCoin transaction.

VCCircle has reached out to SmartCoin on the details of the funding and will update this report accordingly.

Separately, LGT Lightstone Aspada managing partner Kartik Srivastava said the impact investment arm was confident of its bet on SmartCoin because of the startup’s business model and customer insights.

SmartCoin was founded in 2016 by Garg, Amit Chandel, Jayant Upadhyay, and Vijay Kumar Singh. It functions through an app-based model, with its credit underwriting engine aggregating data points on a customer’s smartphone, including financial transactions, device usage, and app behaviour to build a customised credit score.

In April 2017, the micro-lender raised an undisclosed amount in a funding round led by Unicorn India Ventures. A clutch of unnamed angel investors also participated in the round, the company said at the time. Then, in February 2018, it raised a little over $2 million in a round led by a Chinese venture fund. Accion also participated in that round, according to media reports at the time.

Deals in the NBFC segment

This is the latest bet on a firm operating in the larger NBFC space. Impact investors and development finance institutions (DFIs) are some of the significant contributors to this space, with NBFC companies rapidly focussing their products and loan books on middle- and lower-income segments.

Earlier this month, vehicle financing startup AutoMony raised $3 million (around Rs 22.28 crore) in its Series A funding round from a clutch of investors, including Asha Impact and Sundaram Finance. High net-worth individuals also participated in the investment.

Last month, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs)-focussed Prayaan Capital Pvt. Ltd raised $1.2 million (around Rs 8.61 crore) in its seed funding round. The round was led by Accion Venture Lab.

In September last year, digital lending platform LoanTap raised $12 million (around Rs 85.08 crore) in a Series B investment round led by Avaana Capital, an Indian venture-growth investment firm.

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