WeLab, a leading fintech company in Asia, today announced it has completed the initial close of Series C-1 funding, led by Allianz X for US$75 million. Allianz X is the digital investment unit of the Germany-based Allianz Group, one of the world’s largest insurers and asset managers. Since inception in 2013, WeLab has raised more than US$600 million of strategic financing from the world’s most renowned investors. WeLab and Allianz have also established a strategic partnership to drive fintech collaboration across Asia’s financial services landscape. The new funding, together with Allianz partnership, will bolster the acceleration of WeLab’s pan-Asian growth strategy and expansion of digital financial services.
WeLab operates multiple online financial services with leading positions in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Indonesia including digital banking and consumer finance businesses, with close to 50 million individual users and over 600 enterprise customers. As Asia sails into the digital banking revolution and many countries in the region are in the process of studying or implementing digital banking frameworks. WeLab is ahead of the curve, spearheading the new age of banking operating WeLab Bank in Hong Kong — one of the first fully-licensed digital banks in Asia since obtaining its license in early 2019. With its unique market knowledge and extensive network, WeLab is perfectly positioned in this strategic partnership with Allianz to take advantage of the vast opportunities in Asia where its total addressable market size for financial services is close to US$3 trillion in annual revenue.
WeLab has achieved significant milestones in the increasingly digital COVID era
In the COVID era, the market is rapidly evolving, with accelerated digital adoption as one of the outcomes. The pandemic has transformed people’s money habits across their financial journey. The boom in digital services adoption plays into WeLab’s strength in fintech services. WeLab has emerged stronger from the pandemic with multiple businesses achieving significant milestones in the past year. For example:
- Fueled by increased digital adoption in online financial services, WeLab’s user base grew by 20% YoY, adding around 10 million users to the current 50 million user base, the largest user growth in recent years;
- Launching a digital-only bank during the third wave of pandemic in Hong Kong proved to be extremely timely, with WeLab Bank garnering strong traction during its first 6 months of operations;
- WeLend, Hong Kong’s largest pure online lending platform, outperformed the market by 70% during the year to achieve its all-time record high sales volume, at a time where traditional branch operating hours and business model were severely hampered;
- WeLab’s B2B enterprise solution platform in Mainland China doubled the number of business partners from 300 to over 600 as financial institutions move towards online financial services;
- In Indonesia, the mobile lending platform Maucash continues to scale with increased brand recognition and popularity of online financial services in Indonesia, achieving over 6x YoY volume growth.
Partnership will accelerate growth of WeLab’s pan-Asian financial services footprint
With this round of investment and new cooperation, WeLab aims to combine its advanced digital banking technology capabilities and market know-how with Allianz’s expertise in insurance and asset management, the two partners aim to holistically improve people’s financial wellbeing. The broader strategic cooperation between WeLab and Allianz will continue to develop over time and encompasses two key areas:
- The rollout of pioneering digital wealth management in Asia: WeLab Bank and Allianz Global Investors (AllianzGI) intend to enter into a strategic cooperation in digital wealth management and financial services. WeLab Bank is looking into developing and distributing digital wealth management solutions with AllianzGI, a global asset manager under Allianz, with assets under management of over EUR 582 billion*. These would aim to bridge the significant unmet investment needs in Asia, a region where only 27% of the population use financial advisors, resulting in a sizable under-advised population of over 3.4 billion. Once implemented, WeLab Bank will be the first digital bank to deploy this wealthtech advisory technology in Asia. The plan is to roll out these wealth management services to new digital customers in Hong Kong and later to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA), through Wealth Management Connect, reaching the 72 million population in one of the world’s wealthiest megalopolis.
- New markets and new products: development and distribution of investment and insurance solutions: WeLab recognizes opportunities to widen the regional scope of its financial service offerings to other markets in which Allianz operates. For example, in the booming digital Southeast Asian economies, there are around 400 million active internet users, but over 70% of the total population is either unbanked or underbanked. There is, therefore, a lot of potential to expand the cooperation. The two companies are exploring opportunities to offer new digital investment and insurance products in the region, combining Allianz’s expertise in investment and insurance and WeLab’s network of customers and technology.
Simon Loong, Founder & Group CEO of WeLab, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Allianz as an investor and strategic partner to the WeLab Group. We see this as a first-in-market 4-way partnership where there are abundant synergies between WeLab, as a fintech leader and a pioneer in digital banking, and Allianz, as a global insurer and asset manager. More importantly, both companies share a vision on delivering advanced technology solutions to customers in Asia. Today, we announce both the new round of funding and a strategic partnership in wealthtech and banking at WeLab Bank. We look forward to expanding WeLab’s geographical presence and bringing our technology into these new markets with Allianz. We will be expediting our hiring this year, aiming to add around 100 hires, as investing in people and culture will be key to support future growth.”
Nazim Cetin, CEO of Allianz X, said, “In a relatively short amount of time, WeLab has built up a powerful platform for digital financial services and achieved excellent access to retail and business customers in Asia, a region of strategic importance for Allianz. WeLab’s high-performance technology platform, in particular, makes it a unique fintech in the Asian markets. The investment in WeLab is a promising one for Allianz both economically and strategically. We look forward to leveraging our strategic partnership with WeLab and the business potential in the region.”
Desmond Ng, Head of Asia Pacific at Allianz Global Investors, said, “Asia is home to some of the most dynamic wealth management and banking markets of the world. Hong Kong, in particular, is a significant market for us. With the second-highest bank deposits per capita in the world, it is a very attractive wealth management market. The potential strategic cooperation with WeLab presents an exciting opportunity for Allianz Global Investors as an integral part of our growth strategy in Asia.”
Existing investors also participated in this round, reflecting their continued conviction and confidence in WeLab. The Series C-1 round remains ongoing, with the final close expected in the coming months.