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Mobile credit firm Tala raises Sh3bn as it moves to expand user base

Mobile credit firm Tala has raised more than Sh3.09 billion ($30 million) in new capital from existing and new investors to finance expansion into new markets.

US based Tala, formerly known as Mkopo Rahisi, said in a statement that it received the funding from US venture funds IVP and Ribbit Capital, as well as from existing investors who include Lowercase Capital, Data Collective, Collaborative Fund and Female Founders Fund.

And as part of the financing deal, IVP general partner Jules Maltz will join Tala’s board of directors.

“The new funds will be used to accelerate product development, expansion into new markets and building its internal team. Tala’s new model can reach more than two billion people globally who have been underserved by traditional finance companies,” said Mr Maltz in a statement.

Tala currently operates in East Africa and Southeast Asia with its main top markets being Kenya and the Philippines. It is owned by California-based InVenture.

The platform has been gaining traction among small- and micro-entrepreneurs in need of quick loans, but are locked out by traditional banks which demand collateral deeming them high-risk borrowers. In its first year of operation running to May 2016, it issued loans totalling Sh1 billion, highlighting Kenya’s increased appetite for mobile phone-linked financing services.

Tala’s mobile app for Android aggregates different data points on a customer’s device when building up their credit profile.

These include financial transactions, savings, network diversity, and geographic patterns, and builds a customized credit score, or financial identity.

Once a customer has been scored through the app, he or she can quickly apply for credit and receive their loans.

Tala disburses loans of up to Sh50,000 via M-Pesa, and charges a one-off processing fee of between five to 15 per cent depending on customers’ profile and size of loan that must be repaid up to in six months.

Kenyans looking for short term loans have sometimes been forced to go to loan sharks, who sometimes charge up to three times the prevailing market average rate for loans, also with punitive default penalties.

Mobile based instant loan are on the rise in Kenya, with a number of firms offering this line of credit coming up in recent years.

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