Malaysia’s government sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah Nasional has led a Series B investment exercise of $160 million in WeLab, a Hong Kong-based fintech startup.
WeLab is a mobile lending and credit analytics platform in China, and they operate Wolaidai, one of China’s largest mobile lending platforms.
Just a year ago, WeLab completed a Series A funding round of $20 million, which attracted investors such as Li Ka-Shing’s TOM group and Sequoia Capital. The $20 million investment was used to help WeLab’s launch in mainland China as well as further enhancing their credit analytics platform.
The Series B funding round will help WeLab in further developing their credit analytics technology as well as marketing their mobile lending platform to the younger generation to cater to their mobile-first behaviour.
The consortium of investors in WeLab includes ING Bank and Guangdong Financial Technology Group, Guangdong’s government state fund, among others, explained by Khazanah. Khazanah’s Managing Director, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, said that Khazanah is in the midst of strengthening their presence internationally, especially in the innovation and technology sectors.
Khazanah’s investment in WeLab is their first investment in China’s fintech scene, and it is expected that they will continue efforts in hunting for businesses internationally to support in the near future.
The interest shown towards WeLab by major investment and government funds across the world may be explained by the appeal of their business model. WeLab allows for the possibility and opportunities for sustainable collaboration with incumbent traditional corporates and financial institutions through supplying a purely online and mobile platform that serves the needs of people who are unable to do so through traditional channels.
Fintech is still at it’s nascent stages in Asia with an abundance of startups at early-stages. While fintech is taking the stage by storm in Asia, startups will need to push themselves hard and figure out strategies to scale and sustain their businesses. There are plenty of opportunities available with the underbanked population, underserved small and medium businesses and fragmentation of markets in this region. Fintech startups with the ability to carve out a niche and identify an accurate painpoint faced will be able to leap ahead their competitors.
We are excited to see Asian fintech startups such as WeLab leading the pack and proving that fintech startups in this part of the world are able to flourish hand-in-hand with their Western counterparts.