Tala, the leading global technology company committed to financial inclusion, will bring its popular consumer lending app to India.
The expansion was announced along with a new $50 million Series C investment led by Revolution Growth to scale up the success already in progress. Tala has also recently raised an additional $15 million to power its loan book. The round brings Tala’s total financing to more than $105 million.
Tala, which launched Kenya’s first smartphone-based lending app in 2014, has grown significantly in the last year, expanding to Tanzania, the Philippines, and Mexico. Through its mobile platform, Tala has delivered more than 6 million loans to nearly 1.3 million customers and originated more than $300 million. The popular app is currently number 3 in the Google Play Store in Kenya.
The timing is opportune as the digital lending space in India is still nascent but with huge potential as the government pushes for greater financial inclusion using digital technology.
“We are excited to bring our globally proven, customer-driven product to India, where there is high demand for consumer credit and a significant underserved population. Tala’s speed, fully automated borrowing experience, and empathetic customer service will be an advantage in a fast-growing sector,” said Tala’s founder and CEO, Shivani Siroya.
“With more than 3 billion underserved consumers globally, Tala’s ultimate aim is to leverage mobile technology and data science to put more people in control of their financial lives and build a better, more equitable financial system,” she further added.
Mobile technology and data science to advance financial inclusion
Tala’s proprietary credit scoring technologies use machine learning to process thousands of alternative data points from a customer’s mobile device, including texts and calls, merchant transactions, app usage, and personal identifiers. These signals serve as a proxy for traditional financial data, helping Tala expand credit access to customers with little or no formal financial history. Tala requires no collateral. Applicants need only download the app and grant Tala access to key pieces of data on their Android smartphone.
Tala disburses loans between $10 and $500 USD to a mobile wallet or via payment rails of the customer’s choosing. More than 85% of Tala’s customers receive credit in less than 10 minutes.
“Tala is committed to putting our customers first at every interaction,” said Siroya. “From first download to final repayment, our app enables greater financial access, choice, and control. A transaction like this requires radical trust between Tala and the borrower—on one hand, we are absorbing the risk of a default; from the customer’s side, they are trusting us with important information.”
With new offices in Mumbai and Bangalore, the company is currently building out its local team and product testing with a small segment of customers in order to adapt its app to the India marketplace. Learnings from this pilot, combined with Tala's expertise and proven success scaling in emerging markets around the world, are laying the groundwork for a full launch in India later this year.
Leading investment to power global growth
In addition to Revolution Growth, Tala’s Series C round includes existing investors IVP, Data Collective, Lowercase Capital, Ribbit Capital, and Female Founders Fund. Steve Murray, managing partner at Revolution Growth, will join Tala’s board of directors.
“We are excited about how Tala is using mobile devices and data-science to unlock this huge unmet opportunity and serve a market that is underserved by traditional financial institutions,” said Steve Murray, Managing Partner at Revolution Growth. “Under Shivani’s vision and leadership, the company has grown to become one of the leading mobile-first lenders in emerging markets and is enabling millions of customers with no credit history to start businesses and participate in the global economy.”
“We couldn’t ask for a better partner in Revolution, who shares our commitment to bringing investment and opportunity to underserved communities,” said Siroya. “We are thrilled to welcome Steve Murray to our phenomenal team of investors and advisors as Tala enters this next phase of growth.”
A mission-driven global team
Tala was founded in 2012 by Siroya, who grew up in India and the United States and has a background in global health, microfinance, and investment banking, including with the United Nations Population Fund, Health Net, Citigroup and UBS. She started the company after doing 3500 interviews with microfinance borrowers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where she became frustrated by the lack of access to flexible capital and financial services.
Eventually, Siroya saw how alternative data could help prove the potential of these underbanked individuals while also enabling financial providers to design products specifically for them.
“This is data that would not be found on a paper trail or in any formal financial record,” said Siroya in a TED talk in 2016. “But it proves trust. By looking beyond income, we can see that people in emerging markets that may seem risky and unpredictable on the surface are actually willing and have the capacity to repay. ”
Siroya is building out Tala’s global executive team. Late last year, Kevin Novak, formerly head of data science at Uber, joined as the company’s first Chief Data Officer. In March, Tala added a new VP of Market Growth, Anay Shah, formerly an early employee at Remitly, where he helped launch 11 new markets as Head of Partnerships and ran growth for their largest market as Regional Director. In addition to Siroya, Novak, and Shah, Tala’s leadership includes CTO Johnny Lee, whose previous company was sold to Apple in 2014; and VP of Credit Gaurav Bhargava, who led analytical and product teams to develop cutting edge infrastructure focused on digital banking at Capital One.
Tala has more than 215 employees across offices in Santa Monica, Nairobi, Dar Es Salaam, Manila, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Bangalore.