Leading student lending platform SoFi is considering expanding into Asia and Europe, according to sources familiar with the matter. The platform, which specialises in lending to thin-file millennials, has thus far operated exclusively in the US.
The bold expansion plan would fit with the modus operandi of a company that has never shied away from bold, sometimes brash moves. SoFi sparked a war of words with US credit bureau FICO in January by declaring itself a “FICO free zone”. And in a time when the majority of fintech lenders prefer to collaborate with the banks, SoFi CEO Mike Cagney has proven a steady wellspring of anti-bank rhetoric.
SoFi is currently looking to raise another $500m in equity capital, according to an article by Peter Rudegeair of The Wall Street Journal. The investment presentation, which was reviewed by the The Wall Street Journal, was said to include the following line: “Between Brexit impacting U.K. student loans to the insatiable demand for [euro]-denominated assets, the macro tailwinds support European expansion.”
SoFi raised over $1.2bn in August 2015 in a round that was led by Japanese telecommunications and Internet company SoftBank Group Corp. A recent TechCrunch article revealed that Saudi Arabia and SoftBank had signed a memorandum of understanding to create a global technology investment fund that could swell to the size of $100bn. The article suggests that SoftBank will seed the fund with $25bn of its own money, with Saudi Arabia’s top sovereign wealth fund contributing up to $45bn. Whether or not the new tech fund has any bearing on SoFi’s expansion plans is unclear.
SoFi would not be the first US platform to have attempted a global rollout. US small business lender OnDeck branched out into Australia and Canada in April of last year, and while the platform is not yet active elsewhere, it has a handful of employees on the ground in the UK. Consumer lender Avant is active across the US, UK and Canada. Others such as Lending Club and Prosper are yet to attempt to expand beyond the US.
SoFi is yet to comment on its expansion plans.