FINANCIAL services platform GoBear on Monday said it has acquired Singapore-based digital lender AsiaKredit for an undisclosed sum.
This comes after the fintech startup's announcement in May last year that it had raised some US$80 million in funding to date.
AsiaKredit provides consumer finance products to underserved consumers in the Philippines. Through its mobile app, pera247, the company has processed over one million loan applications via "fast and convenient lines of credit not provided by traditional banks", GoBear noted.
With risk management and automation, credit assessment decisions can now take place in minutes and time to cash disbursements within hours, the company said.
The acquisition will see GoBear improve financial inclusion by introducing lending as a service, or LaaS, to its network of more than 100 partners, helping them provide loans to underserved consumers in South-east Asia and Hong Kong.
It will also see the expansion of a direct consumer lending service through pera247.
According to a study by Bain & Company, access to credit remains a challenge for many in South-east Asia, with more than 70 per cent of the region, or 296 million people, currently underbanked or unbanked.
With economic growth in developing countries set to decline sharply in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19, providing consumers with access to credit will become increasingly important, GoBear said.
Added GoBear's chief executive officer Adrian Chng: "The establishment of an industry-leading lending business is a critical component of GoBear's strategy to support our banking partners in providing loans to the many underserved consumers in Asia.
"With AsiaKredit’s sophisticated data-driven underwriting and collections capability, the acquisition will allow GoBear to accelerate strategic plans by giving us access to end-to-end digital lending capabilities."
In November last year, The Business Times (BT) reported that two GoBear co-founders had resigned and that its Indonesia financial comparison business is set to close down, about a year after expanding to that market.
While GoBear's price comparison business in Indonesia ceased on Jan 31 this year, its operations in the country remains "open for business, primarily as a content and media publication model", the company said on Monday in response to queries by BT.
"During our Financial Health Index study, we found that improving financial literacy was a critical area that needed to be addressed and the focus of our Indonesia operation shifted to better meet this need," GoBear added.
Established in 2015, GoBear currently operates in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.