Irish-founded lending platform First Circle raises $26m in funding round

Fintech start-up uses technology to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises primarily in the Philippines

First Circle is looking to address what it says is the undersupply of short-term working capital and trade finance to SMEs in the Philippines and southeast Asia. Photograph: Getty Images

First Circle is looking to address what it says is the undersupply of short-term working capital and trade finance to SMEs in the Philippines and southeast Asia. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Irish-founded lending platform First Circle has raised $26 million in a Series A funding round that will allow the company to further develop its products and expand its customer base.

The round was led by Venturra Capital, with backing from Insignia Ventures Partners, Silverhorn Investment Advisors, and Tryb Group.

The company was founded by Tony Ennis, who was previously chief technology officer of Web Summit owner Ci Labs, former Morgan Stanley associate Patrick Lynch, and Dutchman Jorrit Koop, who was previously managing director of CompareAsiaGroup. It is targeting a capital base of $100 million next year.

Focused primarily on the Philippines, First Circle is looking to address what it says is the undersupply of short-term working capital and trade finance to SMEs in the Philippines and southeast Asia. The fintech start-up uses technology to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises, using proprietary software and credit-scoring to increase access to financial services, and speed up the process.

“One of the things about building a company like this in an emerging country is there is a requirement to build a lot of the underlying infrastructure ourselves,” said Mr Lynch, who is First Circle’s chief executive. “A lot of the work we’ve done over the last 2½ years or so since we started is collecting primary info on supply chains and our customers. If we were in the US, for example, we could plug into a database of credit information.”

Customers

The company plans to make its product faster and easier to use. “As we are adding more and more customers, to be able to do that in a scalable way requires more automation internally,” said Mr Lynch.

The latest funding round brings to $28.5 million the total funding by the company to date. Mr Lynch said it hoped to raise $100 million next year to fund loans and satisfy the demand that it has seen in the market.

“It will be one of the primary contingencies on our growth. We have enough now for product development, we’ve enough to grow the customer base with the capital base we have. But the demand is far in excess of that.”