Lending startup Affirm valued at $1.8 billion in latest financing round

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Silicon Valley lending startup Affirm said on Monday it has raised $200 million in a fresh round of funding, boosting prospects as the firm aims to go after the market for millennial shoppers needing loans.

The new financing put Affirm’s total fundraising to date at about $450 million, and increases its valuation to $1.75 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

The Singapore government’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, led the round, and was joined by earlier investors including Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Founders Fund and Spark Capital.

San Francisco-based Affirm is led by Max Levchin, an entrepreneur and investor who cofounded PayPal Holdings Inc PYPL.O, where he helped pioneer online payments in the dot-com era.

Affirm offers loans to young consumers making purchases that may be too much to pay for entirely upfront, such as a new mattress or sofa. The company partners with more than 1,200 online retailers to offer loans at the point of sale. It claims to offer better terms, such as no late fees, than most retailer credit cards.

Affirm said it approves 126 percent more total borrowers than Synchrony Financial SYF.N, which is the largest issuer of private-label credit cards offered by retailers.

Many of Affirm’s customers are millennials, the demographic cohort born in the early 1980s through the 1990s, who are more apt to make big purchases on their smartphones and more open to non-traditional financial services, Levchin said.

While some consumers in this demographic do not have a substantial credit history or may have a negative credit history after maxing out their credit cards in college, Levchin said Affirm approves more borrowers than traditional lenders. It considers a larger set of data, such as the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio, rather than simply relying on the borrower’s credit score or credit bureau history, he added.

Since its founding, Affirm has made more than 1.5 million loans, and the company says its loan origination volume this year is four times larger than last year. The company has raised $630 million in debt, separate from its equity funding, to finance the loans.

Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe