CNBC Disruptor 50

22. Tala

Founder: Shivani Siroya (CEO)
Launched: 2014
Headquarters: Santa Monica, California
Funding:
$362.1 million
Valuation: $800 million (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Machine learning
Industry:
Fintech
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 2 (No. 20 in 2021)

Persephone Kavallines

Fintech start-up Tala is continuing its mission to improve the financial health of underserved and underbanked populations.

Founded in 2011 by Shivani Siroya, the Santa Monica-based company uses its mobile platform to provide access to loans ranging from $10 to $500 to people in India, Mexico, the Philippines, and India. Using its Android app to create a credit profile for a user by looking at their texts, merchant transactions and other behavioral data to create a risk profile, Tala looks to approve loans within minutes compared to legacy banks or online lenders, who often rely on a credit score or a financial history check to determine eligibility.

In October, Tala closed a $145 million Series E funding round to further expand its borrowing, savings and money management options. At that time, Tala said it had lent more than $2.7 billion to more than six million people.

The company has raised more than $350 million in venture funding from investors including PayPal Ventures, GV, and Revolution Growth.

"From the very beginning we've been very intentionally focused on building a global platform that's truly scalable across these regions, but that also has the ability to be localized," Siroya said during a CNBC "TechCheck" livestream last October.

In May 2021, it partnered with Visa to build a platform where users can incorporate cryptocurrencies into transactions, including digital payments, starting with stablecoin USDC. Tala also pointed to the ability for users to send money across borders using digital currencies, but the efforts remain in exploratory stages and not yet rolled out functionally to users.

It also furthers Tala's overall goal of becoming the primary financial account for the global underbanked, a path that Siroya says isn't about competing with banks but rather creating a financial system that works for everyone.

"There's a lot of leakage around the financial system, especially for the underserved. They have to spend a lot of time going to physical locations, there's money being spent on transportation, and then there's additional fees to actually go get their money and use it," Siroya said.

"So we're really looking to ensure that they have a safe place to more efficiently use their money, and that's what we're thinking about when it comes to crypto: how can we use this technology to really ensure that we're supporting the essential movement of money."

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