Melbourne-based startup Moula, which provides short-term capital of up to $100,000 to startups and small businesses, has today announced the closing of a $30 million investment round led by Liberty Financial, which has taken a stake in the company as a major investment partner, as well as NCN Investments and a group of private investors. The news follows the Australian launch of Rocket Internet-backed startup Spotcap, which also provides small businesses with loans of up to $100,000, as well as rumours of other US and European companies gearing up to take a slice of the small business lending market in Australia.
Launched in May 2014, Moula is a technology platform that can approve loans fast by processing the applicant’s data. From sources like eBay, PayPal, and over 50 banks in Australia, Moula’s technology has the ability to analyse real-time sales data and performance history, and determine whether the applicant can repay the loan. Since the startup is powered by technology, there is no need for applicants to provide any paperwork or waiting for long periods of time for an outcome that could still be ‘no’. Unlike a traditional bank, small businesses can apply for a loan in minutes and receive funding the same day.
The startup was founded by Aris Allegos and Andrew Watt who have combined experience in investment banking, risk management and credit modelling and felt that a platform like Moula would bridge the funding gap for Australian SMEs. The co-founders of Moula continually stress the importance of transparency, saying that there are no hidden fees or penalties for early repayment, which is prevalent in traditional loan systems. With Moula, only an interest rate applied against the borrower’s outstanding balance and the interest amount can be calculated on the ‘Pricing’ section of the site prior to applying for a loan.
As of April this year, Moula was lending over $100,000 per week to Australian small businesses. Allegos said, “Over the past 12 months we’ve experienced significant demand from small businesses in Australia and believe our new funding round will enable us to expand the offering while delivering the same quality of service and speed.”
Heidi Armstrong, Liberty’s General Manager of Marketing and Communications, implied the company has kept a close eye on Moula and is now excited to participate in its growth.
“Our experience in finance innovation will ensure Moula is well positioned to develop its platform and continue to offer their own innovative form of lending to small businesses in Australia,” Armstrong said.
Liberty Financial, a financial services company that has invested in businesses in Australia and New Zealand and raised $13 billion in domestic and international markets, will also provide funding for Moula’s loan book.
“The overwhelming support from Liberty marks a new and exciting chapter for Moula and for the acceleration of our business model; we’ve found an ideal partner with an unparalleled track record for building a successful financial services platform in Australia and a shared vision for responsible and ethical lending,” said Allegos.