Smartphone App-based Startup Branch Set To Operate In India

Expansion of Branch’s personal loan offering to India to provide financial access to the underbanked with its mobile lending app

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San Francisco-based startup Branch International, a mobile app-based lender with operations in Africa and Latin America, launched in India this month.

Branch offers customers personal loans 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’s) mobile-only Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) license in India.

Branch International has witnessed 3X growth year-over-year globally. The company’s steady growth has attracted leading Silicon Valley investment firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Trinity Ventures to invest over $80 million USD, enabling Branch to expand its financial offerings to more countries.

In India, Branch is using mobile technology to break through demographic and geographical barriers to reach first-time borrowers. While most lenders require salary slips, bank account statements, and CIBIL scores, Branch does away with these burdensome requirements for a simpler experience and direct access to financing.

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 analyze thousands of data points to determine the creditworthiness of a user and offer a loan in minutes.

“I believe there is a large untapped opportunity in India’s digital lending space with its growing tech-savvy population that is strongly backed by the government’s financial transformation policies and digital drive. We hope to build a fair, secure and robust digital lending ecosystem in India through our world-class financial offerings.” said Matt Flannery, Co-Founder and CEO of Branch International and Co-Founder of Kiva.

Charishma Chotalia, General Manager of Branch India shares, “This demand is surpassing our initial expectations and proving that Branch is providing a product that India needs.”

Available on Google Play, the Branch app offers easy sign-up for users, who can create their profile directly 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.  

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 USD since its inception.

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