Juvo, the San Francisco tech startup that focuses on financial inclusion and helps unbanked consumers in emerging markets improve their standing from a financial perspective by giving them micro-loans, raised $40 million in a venture capital funding round.
According to a news report in TechCrunch, the venture capital (VC) funding round was led by NEA and Wing Venture Capital. While the marketplace for companies bringing financial services to emerging markets where there is a need and a large population of unbanked is getting crowded — with Branch and Tala just two examples — Juvo aims to stand out from the pack by working with a mobile app as the starting point.
The tech startup offers micro-loans to pre-paid mobile customers when they don’t have enough cash for data or mobile minutes. With the mobile app, users can borrow tiny amounts of money, and it gives the unbanked a financial identity that can help them build their credit score over a period of time, reported TechCrunch. Borrowers of Juvo first can only borrow enough to cover a day or two of mobile service, but after they pay that back they can borrow larger sums of money.
The San Francisco financial inclusion-focused company, which was founded by Steve Polsky, a serial entrepreneur who was most recently a founder, president and COO of Flixster, previously raised $14 million in VC funding from Freestyle Capital, and the former CEOs of AT&T Wireless, NYSE, Sprint, Telefonica International and Vodafone Group, noted the report.
TechCrunch noted the current addressable market for Juvo’s services is 500 million subscribers. The company is just starting to tap that market, which means there’s a big opportunity for future growth.
“There are 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world and 3.5 billion are in developing markets,” Wing Venture Capital General Partner Peter Wagner said in the report. “For those individuals, mobile is a lifeline service … and it’s their most important regular transaction.”
The new funding from NEA and Wing Venture Capital will go to expand into more markets, reach more partnerships with carriers and ink deals with financial services companies to offer products beyond micro-loans for the mobile phone market.