Funding Circle kicks off US operations following $37 million Series C

Peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle is taking on the American market having been charged for growth through a deal led by Accel Partners.

Venture Capital firm Accel Partners has joined existing backers Index Ventures and Union Square Ventures as institutional investors in London-based Funding Circle.

As part of the $37 million (£22.9 million) deal, the online business loan marketplace is joining up with San Francisco-based Endurance Lending Network so that it can crack the US market.

Set up in 2010 by James Meekings, Samir Desai and Andrew Mullinger, Funding Circle facilitates loans of between £5,000 and £1 million using commitments from its crowd community. Since establishment, Funding Circle has seen £160 million of loans processed by its platform.

Speaking to GrowthBusiness, Meekings says that Funding Circle decided to bring in Accel Partners as an investor because of the firm’s proven success stories in both Europe and the US.

He adds that the business wants backers who can add value as well as capital and are not too focused on one market.

‘In the US the economy has been better [than the UK] so the macro factors are smaller, but businesses are still underserved,’ he says.

‘So there is a window of opportunity to get in there and grab a big market share.’

The challenges associated with entering the American market, Meekings explains, centre on the fact that, while in the UK where four banks account for over 90 per cent of lending, in the US it is much more fragmented.

Going forward, the co-founders of Endurance Lending Network, Sam Hodges and Alex Tonelli, will be heading up Funding Circle’s US growth. Capital from the deal, aside from being used to fund an American push, will also be put to work to launch new asset finance and commercial property products that Meekings says will bring different types of people and organisations to use and invest through the platform.

Previous funding rounds for the peer-to-peer platform started with a seed round worth $1.1 million in 2010, a £2.5 million Series A involving Index Ventures in 2011 and Series B worth $16 million – when Union Square Ventures joined. Also joining new backer Accel Partners in the $37 million round is Ribbit Capital.

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Desai, co-founder and CEO of Funding Circle, says that the business is operating in an era when financial services is going through the ‘most significant disruption’ for a generation.

The Series C round caps a busy year for Funding Circle, during which it was named, alongside fellow peer-to-peer platform Zopa as recipients of a share of government capital aimed at stimulating lending to small businesses. Other developments saw Lancashire County Council become the fist local authority in the UK to back businesses through crowdfunding when it used Funding Circle.

Harry Nelis, partner at Accel Partner and new board member at Funding Circle, comments, ‘In Funding Circle, we see the potential to build the category-defining company in online business lending.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.