Fintech companies are beginning to make a significant impact to how people live in Asia. Mywish Marketplaces, one of the more mature startups in what is admittedly a very broad sector, has raised $15 million to push its financing business into new areas.
This isn’t a huge round compared to what other companies have closed, but it is entirely strategic. The capital was proved by Franklin Templeton, the U.S. banking giant with more than $700 billion in assets under management. Puru Vashishtha, who is board director at Mywish Marketplaces, told me in an interview that the company didn’t need to raise the funds and it wasn’t short of interest, but it did so for growth opportunities and was very deliberate with the capital that it did close.
“We were chased by a lot of venture capitalists and investors globally,” Vashishtha said. “Because we were profitable, we did not need to raise a lot and didn’t want to dilute too much too soon — that’s one of the reasons we chose Franklin Templeton. Also, Franklin Templeton has built a very big emerging market business, we want to leverage the experience and leadership of their team.”
Neither party would confirm a valuation for the deal, but TechCrunch understands from a source close to the negotiations that the round values Mywish Marketplaces at $100 million.
To backtrack a little, Mywish Marketplaces operates Deal4Loans, a price comparison and loan aggregation website in India. Its products include credit cards, home loans, business loans and personal loans.
Like Credit Karma in the U.S. and countless others worldwide, it works with banks, credit card companies and other financial institutes to help drive customers, while for its users, it tries to provide a holistic look at financing option and which one suits best for each case. The Deal4Loans site claims to have served more than 6.3 million “satisfied” customers, while the company says it has dispersed a total of $2 billion loans in the last six years at a current rate of $400-$450 million per year.
“We are primarily trying to cater to customers who are in the market for banking products, we are the intermediary between them and banks,” Vashishtha said.
“We ensure they get the best possible advice, make responsible decisions, are given information and transparency,” the former Wall Street hedge fund investor, who joined Mywish Marketplaces in April, added. “We try to understand our customer and matchmake perfectly with the various products available at that point of time, and which banks, via algorithms.”
Vashishtha argued that, rather than just a pipeline for new customers, Deal4Loans streamlines the process to ensure that the right customer focuses on the right banking product, thus minimizing risk that banks would otherwise incur when assessing potential new customers.
“We are neutral so able to get a lot more information on customers and what they are looking for [than a bank would and we] sometimes turn customers away, which lets us target a very high-end,” he explained, although, in the right conditions, he added that a loan or credit can be approved in two minutes.
So why is this profitable company — profitable from day one, it claims — raising money?
I hinted at it earlier, but Mywish Marketplaces wants to expand into more verticals with new financing products for Indian consumers.
“We’re trying to become a financial superstore,” Vashishtha said. “Help customers make decisions right across their financial needs, whether it is loans, credit cards, etc, we want to build a platform to manage their needs.”
Another side to that is expanding the current reach of Deal4Loans.
The service is entirely online, but it relies on partnerships with banks and financial organizations for domestic reach in India, particularly as some areas are better serviced by regional or local players. As of now, Deal4Loans clams to be present in around 200 Indian cities, but Vashishtha said the goal is to increase that to 350-400 through new partnerships and offerings.
Admitting that the company’s core product, a platform that tailors marketing messages and mediums to customers — i.e. learning more about them, suggesting services to them and finding them on various ‘touch points’ (ad placements) across the web — is highly scalable, Vashishtha said that Mywish Marketplaces may well venture outside of India in the future.
“Next year [we may be] keen to expand globally, but first the goal is [to develop a fully] end-to-end experience for our Indian customer base [and] really focus on consolidating our position. At some stage, we may go into the Middle East, Southeast Asia and a few other regions,” he added.