Shunwei Capital leads Series A round in online microlending platform Upwards

Mumbai-based consumer-focused microlending firm Upwards has raised $5 million (Rs 36.43 crore at current exchange rates) in a Series A round of funding led by Chinese venture capital firm Shunwei Capital, a company statement said.

Existing investors India Quotient and Mayfield Fund also participated in the round.

Upwards Fintech Services Pvt. Ltd, which operates Upwards, will use the capital to strengthen its technology backbone and data science capabilities and will also expand to other geographies, the statement added.

“The mobile disruption occurring in India today is very similar to what happened in China eight years back,” Tuck Lye Koh, vice president and chief executive of Shunwei Capital stated.

Upwards was founded in late 2017 by IIT-Delhi graduates Abhishek Soni (CEO) and Nimesh Verma (chief technology officer). The venture operates an online platform that provides quick personal loans for salaried employees. Users can avail loans of up to Rs 50,000 within 24 hours through a paperless application process.

Upwards disburses its loans through Bajrang Investments Pvt. Ltd, a non-banking finance company registered with the Reserve Bank of India.

The startup currently operates in over 30 Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities across India including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai among others. The company claims to have a non-performing assets percentage that is less than 1%.

“We firmly believe that conventional underwriting and loan offerings cannot serve the needs of India’s emerging middle class and have invested heavily in building advanced data science-driven underwriting algorithms to address this gap,” co-founder Soni said in the statement.

Prior to co-founding Upwards, Soni was previously the business development director at Gurugram-based SME lending platform Indifi. Earlier, he had also co-founded, a mobile marketplace for jewelry.

Verma had previously worked at the engineering vertical of Craftsvilla, an online marketplace for ethnic and traditional products. He has earlier worked at real estate portal and social networking giant LinkedIn.

Deals in the space

A number of other startups in the online consumer lending segment have recently raised capital.

Earlier this month, SlicePay, a digital lending platform, which caters to college students and young professionals, raised a Series A round of funding led by Chinese firm FinUp Finance Technology Group.

Last month, Bengaluru-based digital lending startup ZestMoney raised $13.4 million (Rs 93.6 crore) in an extended Series A funding round led by handset maker Xiaomi.

In July , Shunwei Capital had led a $6.25 million (around Rs 42.8 crore) funding in Mumbai-based LoanTap Financial Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a digital platform that offers loans and overdraft products to salaried professionals.

In the same month, Mumbai-based Paysense Services India Pvt. Ltd, which operates an online consumer lending platform, raised $18 million (Rs 123.88 crore) in a Series B funding round led by Naspers-owned PayU.


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