India’s ride-hailing major Ola has been advancing beyond its primary offering and venturing deeper into the fintech space. While it had previously had more of allied fintech experiences on its platform, the company has now taken a major step down the road. Ola says it will be acquiring neobank Avail finance for an undisclosed amount.
Currently, the transaction is still awaiting the approval of its shareholders. If this is approved, then Ola will have a 100% in the financial services company, an increase from the 9% it currently has after it had invested in Avail Finance back in 2019. As a part of the transaction, Avail Finance’s leadership team will be joining Ola Financial Services.
Ola’s angle in the deal is a simple one. The company said that this would help the startup “strengthen its play in the credit underserved segments that comprise blue-collar workers such as Ola’s driver-partner ecosystem.” This includes cross-selling “multiple lending products” to its driver-partners. According to Ola, the acquisition is a key step in the company’s broader push into the fintech sector.
Last valued at $86.6 million, Avail Finance was founded by Tushar Mehndiratta and Ankush Aggarwal, brother of Ola’s co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal, in 2016. The startup claims to be the first neobank in India that provides financial services to the blue-collared workforce. Today, it has over 6 million users and raised around $38.5 million across multiple rounds.
Its capabilities include providing small-ticket personal loans of up to ₹5,000 with the lowest interest, lowest processing fee, and a hassle-free process of disbursing loans. These will now be leveraged by Ola to strengthen its lending business and pave the way for expansion into neo-banking products.
Ola is no stranger to the financial services game, given that it has already invested $104 million in its own such business and noted that it was showing strong growth across both its lending and insurance verticals.” It is also said to aim to get a non-banking finance company (NBFC) license, which will enable the ride-hailing major to dabble in money market instruments, partake in wealth management, and underwrite stocks and shares.
Last December, the company invested up to ₹786 crores in Ola Financial Services, which is now a 100% subsidiary of Ola. Financial services provided by the company include OlaMoney Postpaid (its BNPL offering which is now available to 40 million customers), OlaMoney Credit Card, OlaMoney Wallet, and OlaMoney Car Insurance (which is coming soon).