Africa | April 10, 2019

Branch raises $170 million to improve access to credit in emerging markets

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, April 10 – Crowdfunding microfinance platform Kiva has disbursed $1 billion in loans to 2.6 million people who otherwise lack access to financial services. Kiva’s co-founder Matt Flannery has built a new venture, Branch International, to further scale financial inclusion. Branch, which enables mobile lending, has now secured $170 million from Visa, Foundation Capital, B Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8 and Trinity Ventures.

Branch is among a growing number of fintechs using alternative credit scoring to expand and expedite financial services to the underserved. (The company emphasizes that it gets “explicit permission” from its customers to access their data.) It uses smartphone data to underwrite small loans, and has disbursed more than $350 million through 13 million loans to three million people in Kenya, Nigeria, Mexico, and India.

Flannery’s inspiration to launch Branch in 2015 was Kenyan mobile money service M-Pesa, while has helped millions of un- and under-banked East Africans transfer money and conduct personal and business transactions since launching in 2008. Branch aims to fill a gap in mobile money services that exists in spite of surging smartphone adoption worldwide.

“Unfortunately, mobile money isn’t available in most countries. With the help of Visa, now we can send cash to any ATM and reach the underserved around the planet,” Flannery said in a statement.