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CompareAsiaGroup raises capital from Alibaba, Goldman funds

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CompareAsiaGroup, an online personal finance marketplace backed by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, has secured US$50 million in new funding from investors led by the World Bank's International Finance Corp.

[SINGAPORE] CompareAsiaGroup, an online personal finance marketplace backed by Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, has secured US$50 million in new funding from investors led by the World Bank's International Finance Corp.

Other backers in the series B round included Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund, the Chinese e-commerce giant's non-profit startup sponsorship outfit, SBI Group and H&Q Utrust, the company said in a statement. Existing investors including the Goldman fund, Nova Founders Capital, ACE & Co and Route 66 Ventures also took part in the fundraising.

A growing Asian middle class and improving internet access is fueling demand for online financial products. CompareAsiaGroup provides price comparisons as well as management tools to people hunting for insurance policies, credit cards, loans or other financial products.

It operates local websites across several countries including SingSaver.com.sg in Singapore, where it has more than 500,000 monthly users and works with a bevy of financial services providers. The company lists partners such as Citibank, Allianz, DBS and HSBC on its website.

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"Singapore is one of our fastest-growing markets and remains a top priority," Sam Allen, the company's chief executive officer, said in an interview.

"We invest substantially into Singapore for research and development because our customers and partners are at the cutting edge of digital adoption around personal finance."

The company plans to deploy the new funds toward technology, marketing and hiring. The number of employees will increase from 150 to "well over 200 over the next couple of months", CompareAsiaGroup Chairman Mads Faurholt Jorgensen said.

"We need to continue to extend the technology that we offer to them," Mr Faurholt-Jorgensen said in a Bloomberg TV interview with Rishaad Salamat and Haidi Lun, referring to the firm's 28 million users.

"We want to make sure that when they do apply for a loan, they are actually going to be approved, so we take over the credit scoring from some of the banks."

The company will continue to focus on the seven markets in which it currently operates, and sees the biggest opportunities in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, he added.

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