University students in China now number over 30 million, more than the population of the average country. Surong360 targets university students and alumni for the P2P marketplace, observing that alumni favor their graduating university and have a bond with their successors, so they will more readily lend money to these students.
While there are many P2P finance companies in the market, they typically offer fixed interest rates while lenders do not know who borrows their money. Surong360, however, does not intervene in the transaction, instead functioning as a social network for P2P lending with flexible interest rates. Borrowers can publish their requirements and lenders can choose from whom they want to borrow. Credit points are given based on the borrower’s financial activity to help lenders decide.
Surong360 is born out of CEO Andy Xue’s personal experience. “My major was computer science. The school lab closed early every day and the computer quality was very poor. I had no money at that time to buy a laptop. I think if I could have borrowed money for one, I could have done more things, even started running a startup earlier. So when I graduated, I wanted to help my successors avoid that experience.” Having worked at Microsoft, Tencent and Renren, he saw university students as a large potential market and started targeting these avid consumers. “With no more than 20 team members in company, promotion is done online with a low budget, since we only need to target students,” Xue said, adding, “We put advertising on QQ and BBS (University broadcasting). Using the Tieba broadcasting service, we approached students with tags like Univ Student credit card, shopping, and borrowing money.”
The business model is commission based, and largely depends on the student’s credit rating. The premium version for lenders allow them to define groups with a tag selection to select university, major, age, and amount of money. This segmenting feature has brought student-targeted businesses, such as online survey companies, phone agencies and service providers like academies and driving schools, to the platform, for a commission. After the website’s official launch on November in 2013, the company has now reached 200,000 users from 1,900 universities (84% of the total in China). Having received seven-digit RMB pre-A round from iStart, Xue said a second round will be closed shortly.
Image Credit: Surong360
Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)