Chinese university student micro-loan site Qufenqi announced that it has secured a massive $200 USD million investment led by Ant Financial, Alibaba Group’s financial-services affiliate, with participation of current investors Kalends, BlueRun Ventures and Source Code Capital.
As the fifth investment received by the company, the current round would push the Qufenqi’s total funding to more than $400 million, including two $100 million rounds secured in December 2014 and April 2015, eight-digit USD funding landed in August 2014 and two other smaller rounds received in the same year.
The tie-up will help Qufenqi to further integrate its platform with Alibaba’s Alipay and Sesame credit-scoring service to construct a financial ecosystem for university students. Under the deal, Ant Financial will assign a board member for the startup.
Qufenqi is a Chinese electronics retailer that allows buyers, mostly college students and young white collar workers, to pay in monthly installments. The platform focuses on smartphones, laptops, and other consumer electronics. Customers can choose items from e-commerce sites like Tmall and JD, and then pay for them via Qufenqi by selecting a down payment and the number of months they will pay off the remainder.
Additionally, the site also allows students to set up online groceries stores for school mates, aiming for a campus-based marketplace similar to Taobao, according to Luo Min, founder of the company.
It is a logical move for e-commerce giants to back such sites to increase traffic and potential customers. JD has invested in Fenqile, an arch-rival of Qufenqi, earlier this year.
Research by Shanghai Jiaotong University shows that China now has nearly 30 million university students. The huge group, which is characterized growing spending power as future consumers after graduation, has lured rafts of companies to tap the burgeoning sector.
Image credit: Qufenqi