Singapore’s GIC leads $220 million funding round for Chinese P2P firm Dianrong

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese peer-to-peer lending platform Dianrong said on Wednesday it raised $220 million from a group of investors led by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Pte Ltd, looking to step up research of new technology as it expands across China and explores ventures in other countries in the region.

Other investors in the funding round included CMIG Leasing, a unit of China’s biggest private investment conglomerate China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG), and South Korean fund manager Simone Investment Managers, Dianrong said.

The Shanghai-based firm planned to use the funds to automate some of its new branches across China, for research and development and potential acquisitions, Soul Htite, co-founder and co-chief executive of Dianrong, told Reuters.

“Now we’ve graduated to another level, so people that know finance are also seeing us as someone that is really going to be part of the finance industry,” Htite said in an interview.

The company, co-founded by Htite, who was also behind U.S. online lender LendingClub Corp, already has big backers including the private equity arm of Standard Chartered and technology-focused investment firm Tiger Global Management. It raised $207 million in a previous fundraising round in 2015.

After launching its platform in 2012, Dianrong has expanded into different services, including supply-chain financing using blockchain technology, as it looks to grow beyond the crowded market in China that has thousands of P2P players. The company in 2015 unveiled a joint venture with Seoul-based conglomerate Hanwha Group to offer marketplace lending and other financial technology services in South Korea.

It recently launched a partnership in Hong Kong to offer a marketplace for Asian investors to buy into U.S. consumer loans, and in July Dianrong bought the asset origination business of Shanghai-based Quark Finance in a bid to increase the volume of loans it matches in its online platform.

Reporting by Elzio Barreto; Editing by Stephen Coates