SoftBank's technology portfolio currently spans telecommunications, internet services, AI, smart robotics, IoT, clean energy technology and consumer-facing fintech. Now the Japanese company is moving into small business lending.
SoftBank has made a $250m equity investment in small business lending platform Kabbage, which is said to be the largest ever equity raise in the online SME lending sector. Kabbage has now raised close to $500m in equity capital to date.
The money will be used both to expand the company’s non-lending products and to accelerate the uptake of its software-as-a-service platform, which powers small business lending for global banks. Kabbage already provides these services to firms like ING and Santander, in addition to writing loans off its own balance sheet. It is active across North America and Europe, with plans to expand into Asia.
“SoftBank invests in market-leading companies that dramatically improve the customer experience and expand markets through breakthrough technology and data capabilities,” said SoftBank managing director David Thevenon. “We invested in Kabbage because their unique automated lending platform leverages open data networks and best positions them to empower small businesses around the world.”
SoftBank first delved into the fintech sector in 2015 with a $1bn investment in millennial finance firm SoFi. Its $93bn technology-focused Vision Fund, to which SoftBank has contributed $28bn, is also backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth arm.