Lendela, which holds the distinction of being the first personal loan matchmaking service in Southeast Asia, has announced its close of $2 million in pre-Series A fundraising. Promise Future International and Luxembourgian early-stage venture fund 2be.lu are the round’s lead investors.

With this capital infusion, Lendela intends to fund expansion activities. Operating in Singapore and Hong Kong, the FinTech’s growth plan focuses on gaining more customers and broadening its reach in its existing markets. The statement from the company suggests that international expansion is not yet on the table. Some part of the newly raised funds will be used to hire new staff in tech, business development, and marketing.

Despite the pandemic, Lendela saw impressive growth in 2020. The FinTech startup now serves thousands of customers. “Having achieved seven times growth in 2020, Lendela now serves tens of thousands of borrowers in Singapore and Hong Kong,” Lendela said in a note to Technode Global.

The company says that it has already expanded its network by accumulating 40 strategic partnerships with various financial service institutions and businesses including major banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered.

Aside from the expansion plans, Lendela said that there are also plans to further enhance its product offerings mainly by reducing friction for customers and speeding up the loan application process. The company also intends to develop its own customer identification services and establish an alternative credit scoring system.

Lendela CEO and Founder Nima Karimi looks forward to playing a bigger role in financial transactions during the pandemic. “With COVID-19, the shift towards digitalisation has accelerated across Southeast Asia. Lendela’s digital lending process is even more valuable in a pandemic with restrictions on social interaction,” he said.

Lendela Board Member Pierre Lorinet also shares a rosy outlook for the company, noting that “there is an incredible opportunity for growth and improvement in the region’s digital lending space and Lendela is well-placed to capitalise on it.”

Established in 2018, Lendela is a relatively new company, but it has shown promising growth since it received seed funding worth $942,000 in a round led by IMO Ventures and Cocoon Capital in the same year it was founded.

The fast-changing face of fintech

The company was founded by the global FinTech group Zentro Finmarket. The team behind the company comes from Sweden, where loan matchmaking proves to be a viable business model. With its unique proprietary platform, the company aims to offer FinTech services that fuse “Nordic-inspired user experience and financial technology with local expertise in the Southeast Asian region.”

A loan broker company, Lendela specializes in bringing together borrowers and lenders through a single online loan application platform. The site allows loan applicants to send one application and go over several loan offers from different partner companies. After finding a suitable loan offer, applicants can proceed to processing the loan and completing the documentation–all in a span of 24 hours from the time the application was made.

Lendela is optimistic in its growth prospects as it cites a Google, Temasek and Bain & Company study that forecasts a 33 percent annual growth in the digital lending sector in Southeast Asia, which is estimated to be valued at $18 billion by 2025.