India initially made its name in the tech world years ago when it staked out reputation as a key hub for business process outsourcing. Now that legacy has taken a very different turn in fintech with outsourcing of a very different kind, with the emergence of embedded finance technology. In the latest development, Lentra, an Indian embedded AI-based finance startup, has raised $60 million — a Series B that values the startup at “over $400 million,” D Venkatesh, the founder and CEO of the startup, told TechCrunch in an interview.
Existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Susquehanna International Group (SIG) led the round with strategic participation also from Citi Ventures, a subsidiary of the New York-based investment banking giant Citigroup.
This is Citi Ventures’ first investment in a fintech out of India, and this round overall underscores how far the fintech and embedded finance ecosystem have come along in recent years. Lentra, which is profitable, has been growing at a very fast clip. In 2019, its first year of operations, it registered $1 million from its “annual consumption rate” — this term relates to the amount of revenue Lentra makes based on usage of its APIs. As of this year, that figure is up to $10 million, and it is projected to hit $100 million in 2024.
The Mumbai-based startup works with commercial banks to power their digital loan services. HDFC Bank, Federal Bank, Standard Chartered and IDFC First Bank are some of its key customers. Overall, Lentra has more than 50 clients and has processed over 13 billion transactions and $21 billion worth of loans since its launch. Venkatesh said the startup achieved all this growth without hiring a single sales executive until April this year.
The company’s mission is not unlike that of a number of other fintechs that have thrown their hats into the ring to work with — rather than completely upend and disrupt — legacy financial services providers, which have found themselves unable to keep up with innovation from faster moving, tech based competitors.
“We want to help and empower the banks, who are our clients, to lend better, lend completely on a digital platform and improve on all parameters,” said Venkatesh.
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