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Skype founder’s Oriente raises $105 million to bank Asia’s unbanked

ImpactAlpha, November 28 – Nine figure Series A investment rounds are rare. They’re even rarer for companies targeting large populations of unbanked customers. 

But nine figures is how much the year-old fintech startup Oriente raised to extend financial services to the 82% of Asia’s adults that don’t have a bank account and the 89% that rely on informal credit.

The Hong Kong-based company was launched last year by Skype co-founder Geoffrey Prentice with a mission to use data science and artificial intelligence to develop alternative credit risk assessment for Asia’s unbanked, and provide them with digital lending and other financial services. Underpinning Oriente’s business rationale is the region’s rapid smartphone penetration and demand for payment services and unmet credit needs. 

Oriente’s first service was Cashalo, a low-cost credit service in the Philippines. Oriente and its partner on Cashalo, Filipino billionaire John Gokongwei, have pledged to invest $200 million in the company over the next three years. Oriente has since rolled out a second service, Finmas, in Indonesia.

Oriente’s $105 million capital infusion was committed by the company’s founders and several Asian family offices to develop Oriente’s technology infrastructure, expand its existing services and launch in new markets.

It is unclear whether a portion of this funding will be used for lending. However, unlike other fintech and financial services companies that raise debt for their lending activities, “Oriente lends from its own balance sheet and the funds it’s obtained from investors,” Tech in Asia reports.

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