Japanese telco SoftBank just made a big bet on the booming financial tech (fintech) industry. SoftBank yesterday announced a US$1 billion round of funding for San Francisco-based SoFi, an online service that allows America’s debt-laden students to refinance their federal or private student loans.
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This huge investment comes nearly four months after SoftBank ploughed US$1 billion into South Korea’s top e-commerce startup Coupang. The company has been very active this year and last, making major investments including participation in US$500 million for India’s Snapdeal, US$250 million for Grabtaxi, and US$600 million for China’s top taxi app.
The funding – a series E round for SoFi, which stands for Social Finance – looks to be the biggest single investment in a fintech startup to date, reports Reuters, which emphasizes the impact of finance-related startups as they disrupt banks and traditional lenders.
Sprinting into US
The move comes three years after SoftBank acquired US telco Sprint. Earlier this week, SoftBank increased its hold on Sprint, upping its stake to 83 percent despite the network struggling as fast-charging T-Mobile scoops up new subscribers.
SoFi started out focusing on student debt refinancing, but has since evolved to include mortgages and personal loans – other financial products that America’s millennials need once they’ve got their massive student loans under control.
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