Growth Companies

Digital Lending Continues to Be a Magnet for Capital

As consumer and business debt levels climb, investors pour money into online lending firms.
Vincent RyanJuly 26, 2018
Digital Lending Continues to Be a Magnet for Capital

Online lending appears to be a pretty crowded market at this point. But consumer and business debt levels keep building. That’s one reason why private capital providers continue to allocate funds to digital lending startups.

On a global basis, alternative, nonbank lending, which includes business and consumer loans, is expected to have an annual growth rate of 18% between now and 2022, according to Statista.

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June wasn’t a banner month for U.S. fintech investments, but digital lenders attracted the largest amount of capital in the sector — about $243 million, according to S&P Capital IQ.

The largest chunk went to LendStreet Financial, which garnered $117 million in a series A round. Prudential Financial participated in both the equity ($7 million) and the debt ($110 million) components.

LendStreet focuses on debt relief — debt restructuring and consolidation for financially distressed consumer borrowers. Its online platform allows investors to buy shares in the loans it grants.

Another online lender, Bluevine Capital, landed $60 million in a series E round, bringing its total capital raised to more than $400 million. Debt financing has included a secured warehouse credit line of up to $75 million from Fortress Investment Group and a $200 million asset-backed revolving credit facility with Credit Suisse.

Bluevine offers invoice factoring and lines of credit to small and mid-size businesses.

A firm called LendingPoint, meanwhile, secured $53 million of mezzanine financing from Paragon Outcomes Management. Last year it secured two senior credit facilities, arranged by Guggenheim Securities, both in the $500 million range.

LendingPoint grants personal loans of $2,000 to $25,00, according to S&P Capital IQ, and its primary focus is “near-prime” borrowers, who tend to have credit scores in the 600s.

LendingPoint says it has originated more than 50,000 loans in excess of $500 million since it opened in 2015.

Finally, a company called Drip Capital, specializing in trade finance, raised $15 million from Accel Partners, Sequoia Capital, and others. The firm provides what it calls “collateral-free post-shipment finance to Indian exporters.”

The revived interest in online lenders comes a year after venture capitalists turned skeptical on the sector after early player Lending Club ran into compliance problems and the shares of OnDeck Capital performed poorly once the company went public.

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