Seoul- and Gurugram-based mobile top-up turned lending and insurance startup True Balance that has a significant user base in non-metro cities in India has raised USD 28 million in a Series D round led by SoftBank Ventures Asia and Daesung Private Equity.
The new funding saw participation from Naver BonAngels and existing backer Shinhan Capital, taking its total fundraising to USD 90 million to date.
Established in 2014 by Korean entrepreneur Charlie Lee (Korean name: Cheol-won), the company started out as an app to inform users about their mobile balance and allow them to top up. The service became popular in rural and semi-rural areas in India as users don’t need an internet connection to check their phone balance and get suggestions about the best top-up plan offered by their telecom provider.
Over the course of five years, True Balance has now established itself as a platform where users can avail themselves of different financial services including payment of utility bills, online lending— currently its core operation—and different insurance products.
With 190 million unbanked adults, India is second to China among developing nations that have a large population of residents with no bank accounts, a World Bank report said. No formal interaction with the country’s financial institutions means no credit score which makes it difficult for this large populace to take loans from banks or non-banking financial corporations (NBFCs).
Many lending startups in India as well as Southeast Asia—which has an equally high number of the unbanked population—consider this as a business opportunity. These fintech startups including True Balance, look at user’s alternative information such as the kind of phone they use, if they own a house, the number of dependent family members, among other such data points to determine their lending capability.
In addition to lending and insurance products, True Balance launched its mobile-only e-commerce marketplace last year.