A Chinese peer-to-peer lending platform has attracted more than $200m in funding, led by Standard Chartered in what it claims is the first time a major commercial bank has invested directly in a Chinese internet finance company.
The C-round funding for Dianrong.com of $207 million, which is co-led by the state-owned China Fintech Fund, is also believed to be the biggest equity investment in a Chinese P2P finance venture to date.
Standard Chartered Private Equity's co-head Wei Zhu stated that the investment in a startup is a rare occurence for the bank's private equity arm as it typically focuses on growth and late-stage companies but he highighted Dianrong as "an exceptional case".
Online lenders are growing in popularity in China by targetting SMEs that are struggling to raise finance from the state-owned commercial banks. But this growth has also sparked concern that the sector is too lightly regulated and susceptible to fraud.