Xiaomi-backed P2P loans startup Jimubox secures $84M series C funding

TECHINASIA:  Peer-to-peer lending startup Jimubox has just secured $84 million in series C funding. It comes seven months after the Beijing-based firm attracted US$37 million from Xiaomi and ShunWei Capital, a venture capital fund headed by the phone maker’s founder, Lei Jun.

This time round the lead investor is UK’s Investec Bank. Haitong Kaiyuan Investment also joined in, along with new investors Mandra Capital and Zhong Capital Fund. Existing Jimubox backers Matrix China Partners, Xiaomi, Shunwei, Ventech China, and Magic Stone Alternative also threw in some cash.

Barry Freeman, Jimubox CFO and co-founder, tells Tech in Asia that the earlier tie-up with Xiaomi helped the startup see a big boost in traffic. Before the gadget maker got involved with the startup, 50 percent of the site’s traffic was from mobile – but now that’s up to 70 percent.

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The service, which offers business loans for small and medium-sized businesses and consumer loans for individuals, now has 23,000 separate loan borrowers as well as, Freeman says, a “much larger” (but undisclosed) base of investors who get returns on the primary loan issuance as well as any secondary trading of interest in the loans that may take place.

Freeman adds that Jimubox has seen about RMB 6 billion to RMB 7 billion (US$971 million to $113 million) in new issue loans since launching in August 2013, and about 25 percent of that tally ended up going into secondary trading. Freeman says that all the secondary trading shows the health of the platform as it gives investors a chance to stay more liquid and make shorter term returns.

China’s microfinance sector has exploded on the web in the past couple of years, and that has been matched by investor interest in many of the startups involved, such as Dianrong and Renrendai.