San Francisco-based startup Branch International, a mobile app-based lender with operations in Africa and Latin America, launched its operations in India this month. Branch offers customers personal loans ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 50,000 through its Android app and is one of the first recipients of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) mobile-only non-banking financial company (NBFC) licence in India. Branch International has witnessed 3X growth year-on-year globally.
Founded in 2015, the microlending startup began its operations in the African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria, where it offers small-scale loans between $2.50 to $1000. Proving to be a truly global company, Branch has since expanded into Latin America, specifically Mexico, before launching in India.
With over 2 million customers and 11 million loans processed, Branch International has disbursed over $250 million since its inception. Seeing the steady growth ,this startup has recevied funding of over $80 million from investment firms such as Andreessen Horowitz and Trinity Ventures enabling Branch to expand its financial offerings to more countries.
Available on Google Play, the Branch app offers easy sign-up for users, who can create their profile in the app by filling out a simple form. Once their profile is verified, users can apply for loans and receive money in their bank accounts within minutes. Even the repayment of loans is an effortless process as users can simply repay through their bank accounts, debit cards, or UPI. By repaying loans in a timely manner, users can increase their credit score and unlock access to larger loans.
In India, Branch is reaching out to first-time borrowers. While most lenders require salary slips, bank account statements, and CIBIL scores, Branch does away with these burdensome requirements. By relying solely on the data from a user’s mobile device, Branch is able to tap into an underserved market, including those who are self-employed or part of the informal sector, yet very creditworthy. The company uses machine learning algorithms to analyse thousands of data points to determine the creditworthiness of a user and offer a loan in minutes.
Charishma Chotalia, general manager, Branch India shares, “We are overwhelmed by the response we have received in the last week since our app launched in India. This demand is surpassing our initial expectations and proving that Branch is providing a product that India needs.”