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Billion Dollar Unicorns: Rong360.com Joins the Club

Posted on Wednesday, Dec 7th 2016

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According to a recent Business Insider report, global fintech funding had already reached $15 billion by mid-August 2016 from $19 billion in 2015. While the US and UK were once attractive hubs, the spotlight has now shifted to Germany and China. One beneficiary of this trend is Chinese financial vertical search platform Rong360.com, which recently joined the Billion Dollar Unicorn Club.

Rong360.com’s Offerings

Beijing, China-based Rong360.com was founded in October 2011 by former Marketing Manager at PayPal China Daqing Ye. The idea for Rong360 came to Ye after it surveyed Chinese netizens on their online searching behaviors. The result showed that about 20% of them are already used to comparing prices through online searches. Ye believed this behavior could be applied to the financial market as well.

Rong360 aims to provide users a 360-degree, all-around financial information platform. It allows individual users and small micro-enterprises to search and find suitable financial products from over 10,000 banks and financial institutions. It provides search, recommendations, and application assistance for products such as loans, credit cards, and financial management tools. It also offers a knowledge-driven online community that shares wealth management experience and up-to-date news on forums to help customers with decision making. It is also developing facial recognition software to strengthen its online security.

The company claims to have included some 170,000 financial products in its database. Of these over 70,000 are loans products, 10,000 are credit cards and 80,000 are financial management services. It now provides services to 12.3 million users in 300 cities in total and has more than 700 employees.

Rong360.com’s Financials

Rong360.com’s detailed financials are not known. However, this 2013 report suggests that Rong360.com earned its revenue from advertising and the fees it charges banks and financial institutions. It charges them a fee based on the number of the application orders or has a profit-sharing arrangement with them. Another report suggests that it charges banks 5-10% of the loan while a typical loan review process would cost a bank about 10-20% of the loan.

The company is venture funded. It has raised $258 million from investors including Chenchao Zhuang, Pavillion Capital, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sailing Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Qunar.com, StarVC, YF Capital, and Zero2IPO Ventures. It raised $158 million in October 2015 in a Series D round that valued them at $1 billion.

It was planning to go public in China after the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) made some changes in the regulations that require companies to seek government approval and become profitable before they can list. However, these changes have not materialized and now the company might have to go public in New York, where shares of Chinese companies are trading at much lower valuations than in China. 

More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.

Photo Credit: bfishadow/Flickr.com

This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns


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