Funding Circle raises $100 million to grow its P2P lending platform for SMEs
Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform Funding Circle has raised £82 million ($100 million) in an equity funding round led by Accel, with participation from existing investors, including Union Square Ventures, Baillie Gifford, Index Ventures, DST Global, Ribbit Capital, Rocket Internet, Sands Capital Ventures, and Temasek.
Founded out of the U.K. in 2010, Funding Circle connects small firms seeking capital with investors, who may include individuals, financial institutions, and government agencies. The company launched in the U.S. in 2013, followed by mainland Europe in 2015 when it acquired Zencap, a similar company that operated in Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany.
The London-headquartered startup has closed a number of chunky funding rounds over the past few years, including $65 million in 2014 and $150 million less than a year later, elevating the company to the much-coveted “unicorn” brigade with a $1 billion valuation. This latest round of funding takes its total past the $370 million mark.
“We’ve been impressed by the Funding Circle team since our early investment in the company,” explained Accel partner Harry Nelis. “It has achieved significant growth across multiple international markets by delivering an appealing lending option to SMEs and attractive risk-adjusted returns to investors on the platform.”
The P2P lending space has a number of notable players, including Prosper Marketplace, which has raised around $355 million in equity funding, and Lending Club, which had raised roughly the amount Funding Circle has raised now before it went public on the New York Stock Exchange two years ago. Of course, Lending Club’s shares have more or less been in free fall since its initial IPO trading price of $25, and now hover at less than $6.
“This investment makes Funding Circle the largest and best-capitalized SME lending platform in the world,” continued Nellis.
Funding Circle claims that more than 60,000 investors (individuals and companies) have lent $3 billion to 25,000 businesses around the world since 2010, with around 10 percent of investor money now coming from government sources, including the British Business Bank, which plowed £40 million ($48 million) into the company just last week. More recently, Funding Circle says that investors lent £1.1 billion ($1.33 billion) in 2016 alone, with Funding Circle itself recording a 90 percent year-on-year growth. The company states that it is cashflow positive.
“Today’s news is the next step on our journey to create a category-defining company that helps thousands of small businesses access finance and create jobs,” added Samir Desai, CEO and cofounder of Funding Circle. “Over the next 12 months, lending through the Funding Circle platform will create a further 50,000 new jobs, supporting economic growth in the U.K., U.S., and continental Europe.”