Don’t miss out on these headlines of the week: Chinese P2P loan company becomes the biggest in the world; outbound travel platform raises USD 60 million; and online counseling service raises over USD 12 million.
Chinese P2P loan platform surpasses Lending Club to become the world’s biggest
The world’s most valuable fintech startup is now Chinese. Lu.com, a Chinese peer-to-peer personal loan platform, finished a USD 900 million Series B financing in December 2015, the tech channel of Tencent News reported on Friday.
According to a fundraising document revealed by Tencent News, after this round of funding, Lu.com’s valuation will be boosted to USD 18.5 billion, which is double the USD 8.9 billion valuation U.S. P2P financing platform Lending Club had with its IPO in 2014. The document leaked also indicates that Lu.com has already outperformed the American company becoming the global number one in the sector.
Lu.com was founded in Shanghai in September 2011 with registered capital of RMB 837 million (USD 131 million) and with the original name Lufax. It later changed its name to Lu.com in September 2015.
Lu.com finished its last round of funding at the end of 2014 with a valuation of USD ten billion. Investors participating at the last round of financing included BlackPine Private Equity Partners, CDH Investments and China International Capital Corporation’s private-equity division, according to a news release featured on Lu.com.
The company achieved a revenue of USD 100 million in 2014 and was estimated to have a revenue of USD 706 million in 2015. The fundraising document revealed by Tencent shows that the company is expecting a balance of income and expenditure in 2016 and a net profit in 2017. Lu.com is planning on publically listing as early as the latter half of 2016, according to Bloomberg.
Prior to this round of financing, Lu.com’s primary shareholder was Chinese commercial bank Ping An Bank, which holds 47.49% of the company’s shares. The Ping An Group also owns leading insurance agencies and asset managers in China, which support Lu.com in terms of assets supplies and customer acquisition. Revenue coming from Ping An Group accounted for 30% of total capital managed by Lu.com in 2014 and 12% for 2015, Tencent News reported.
Different from Lu.com, other internet financial platforms are primarily backed by tech companies instead of financial groups. Ant Financial, which is a member of the Alibaba Group, has a valuation of USD 45 billion and is also planning on going public in 2016. JD Finance, the financial affiliate to China’s second largest e-commerce platform, is planning on going public as well, with a valuation of RMB 46 billion (USD seven billion).
Medical e-commerce confirms USD 100 million Series B fundraising
Medical e-commerce company 7lk.com has confirmed raising over USD 100 million in Series B funding but has not disclosed investors, NetEase Tech reported on Thursday.
Founded in Guangzhou in 2010, the platform has built its own logistic systems in big Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. The platform plans to use the new funding to expand services offered through its health consultation app including searching for doctors, paying consultation fees and subsidizing medicines.
Jiang Haidong, CEO of 7lk.com, wants to build the platform as a leading part of a supply chain linking up pharmacies, doctors, patients and facilitating medical checkups. He wants to build an ecosystem in the health services field and to become the first point of call for mobile health.
Jiang reveals the medical e-commerce company made over RMB one billion (USD 151 million) in 2015. It’s reported that 7lk.com received more than RMB one billion in investment in 2015, in which RMB 300 million was raised from its affiliate Guangdong Qicheng Youth Fund as well as Govtor Capital, Grand Yangtze Captial and TusPark Ventures, in a Series A funding in January 2015.
Online counseling service raises over USD 12 million in Series A funding
OneXinli, a platform providing psychological counseling services, announced that it has raised dozens of millions of USD in a Series A funding round. SAIF Partners (Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund) was the leading investor, with Northern Light Venture Capital following suit, NetEase News reported on Tuesday.
OneXinLi was founded in Guangzhou in June 2011. In the past four years, the company took advantage of online new media, publishing magazines and placing its psychology podcasts on major Chinese radio platforms. In 2014, they started to develop mobile counseling products and help companies with their EAPs (employee assistance programs). The platform has connected over 12 million users with 6372 psychologists and over 600 psychological columnists, working with 792 psychological agencies.
But it is a challenging industry. Huang Weiqiang, the platform’s founder, says the company isn’t counting on booking counseling sessions for their main business, because counseling tends to be unpopular with Chinese people. Rather, Chinese customers are more receptive to using the online Q&A model to sort out their psychological issues.
This is the platform that introduces online Q&A as a new function on their app, which is undergoing testing. The platform charges 5-10 RMB for customers to get a question answered professionally. In the future, the platform may introduce a membership plan to provide private counseling services when the market is more mature.
The mobile health market is expected to see a boom in China. It was reported last year that among the 30 million Chinese who suffer from depression, only 10% were accepting treatment.
Jin Fengchun, a SAIF partner, said OneXinli has been developing steadily in the past few years, and it has good resources and a good service ecosystem. Its user numbers and growth rate are huge. It has huge potential to become the leading psychological app in China.
Utour, one of China’s leading international travel companies, was the lead investor, followed by SIG China. Utour bought Qyer’s shares for 25 million through capital increase and transferring stocks. After the transaction, Utour now owns 5.499% of Qyer’s shares, and Qyer’s valuation is now about RMB three billion.
According to Utour’s announcement, investing in Qyer will improve the range of custom tours and self-guided tours available on its site and improve online experience for users. Utour will use Qyer’s large user base to upgrade the quality of its products and service, and help it build a business system.
Qyer.com will use the Series D funding to increase its own product line, increase staff and big data capabilities, and plans to upgrade its strategy with big data as a focus to match customer demands with travel services.
With growing demand for outbound tourism in China, the two companies are also planning to establish a joint venture to explore the outbound self-guided tour market. According to a study by HSBC, the number of Chinese outbound tourists is expected to rise to 242 million by 2024, more than double the 116 million outbound tourists in 2014.
Qyer.com’s biggest rival is Mafengwo.cn. It is also competing with OTA giants Tuniu Travel, backed by Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, and Tongcheng Travel, backed by real estate giant Wanda. On Monday, another outbound travel site Fxtrip.com raised USD 10 M in its Series B financing.
China’s largest steel material e-commerce site raises USD 153 million in Series E funding
Zhaogang.com, China’s largest steel material dealing and trading e-commerce site, raised RMB one billion (USD 153 million) in Series E funding from China Renaissance on Tuesday, Sohu reports.
Founded in 2012, Zhaogang.com is a supply chain which provides storage, simple processing and logistics. It also provides SMEs with financing services based on a credit model developed using big data analysis.
The platform trades about 200,000 tons of steel daily, out of which 60,000 – 70,000 tons went to shopping malls. Zhaogang.com’s sales from last year reached RMB 20 billion. The company has 1,500 staff with branches in 26 countries, which includes one in South Korea and one R&D center in Wuhan.
Mobile reading company ZhangYue announced its completion of initial financing recently of nearly USD 100 million, which boosts its valuation to almost USD one billion. Guo Jin Capital and Alpha Animation are the investors, NetEase reported on Monday.
After many years of expertise in mobile reading, Zhangyue started to expand in 2015. Apart from putting forward its i-reader, it cooperated with animation companies and original online story creation platforms to develop richer, more diversified content, and even expanded to the gaming, film and television industries.
According to ZhangYue’s co-founder Jia ShengTing, the company chose Guo Jin Capital because it has a well-planned investment structure in the film and television industry and in online entertainment. The reason they chose Alpha Animation was because of Alpha’s resources in the ACG (animation, comic and game) industry. The financing will be used mostly for building up the industry chain and in content selection.
ZhangYue also made several attempts in intellectual property (IP) expansion in 2015. For example, it provided three ways on its platform to adapt games, including progressive and reverse adaptation and interaction. In the film and television sphere, it prioritized the expansion of animation franchises over reading proceeds, and appeared willing to develop works of different genres and themes. Recently its most popular content Dangerous Partner was bought by LeTV, which will make it into a movie or TV series.
Chinese outbound travel platform completes USD 10 M Series B financing
Fxtrip.com, a site providing outbound independent travel packages, has received over USD ten million in Series B financing from its leading investor Shanghai Zhongwei Venture Capital and its Series A investor Shunwei Capital, tech media 36Kr reported on Monday.
Wang Zhenhua, founder and CEO of Fxtrip.com, says this round of fundraising will be used to add more travel destination options, expand distribution channels and speed up the pace of marketing. Prior to founding Fxtrip.com, Wang was the vice president of Ganji.com, previously the second biggest classifieds site in China.
Fxtrip.com, a travel platform that targets young women, started operating in September 2013 in Beijing. “In most cases, females are the ones who make travel decisions. And beaches and islands are among their preferred destinations,” said Wang.
Like most Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), Fxtrip.com handles air tickets, hotels, visa applications, pickup and itinerary plans for their users. But they claim to provide traveling choices of higher quality. “No cheap airlines and no express hotels,” says its official website. Fxtrip.com also has featured services including tailor-made itineraries and 24-hour customer service staff on standby for communicating through Wechat and phone calls.
While unlike most OTAs, with their bewildering arrays of choices, Fxtrip.com provides tour packages focusing only on several overseas destinations, including Cambodia, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Bali, Japan, Switzerland and Paris. According to Wang, they focus on only a few selected destinations in order to save their users the trouble of choosing, guarantee a high quality of service, give users more choices in one destination and also cut costs.
But from this year on, they plan to expand at the pace of one more destination per month.
Wang says, their revenue in 2015 reached RMB one hundred million, which is ten-fold the amount of the previous year. And the monthly growth rate of its revenue is 30%. He also says that the Cambodia route is the most popular with travelers from China.
Although Fxtrip.com has successfully landed its Series B financing, it still faces great pressure from many rivals, including OTA giants, Tuniu Travel backed by Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, Tongcheng Travel backed by real estate giant Wanda and also smaller travel platforms including Qyer.com and Mafengwo.cn.