UK fintech unicorn Funding Circle is continuing its world domination with the acquisition of German lender Zencap, to fuel European expansion plans.
The peer-to-peer lender picked up the startup from incubator Rocket Internet for an undisclosed sum, giving it access to the small business lending market, which is worth one trillion euros across Europe - more than the UK and US combined.
Zencap has lent €35m to more than 500 businesses in the 18 months since its launch, and will become part of Funding Circle, along with its 75 staff. Funding Circle employs 250 people in the UK, and another 150 in the US. The firm has helped 12,000 businesses access $1.5bn (£970m) in financing since 2010.
Zencap founders Matthias Knecht and Christian Grobe will also stay on, with Grobe as chief operating officer for Europe and co-founder of Funding Circle.
"Our vision is to help millions of businesses across the world sidestep the outdated and inefficient banking system and borrow from investors," said Funding Circle's Sami Desai.
"Today’s news is the next exciting stage of this journey. We have been hugely impressed with what the Zencap team have achieved so far. By coming together we combine Funding Circle’s leading position in the UK and US with Zencap’s deep understanding of local markets to create the first truly global marketplace lending platform.”
Funding Circle will now operate in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, with ambitions to expand into further countries. It is also in talks with the European Investment Bank to lend £100m through the platform.
The fintech firm landed a $150m mega-round of funding earlier this year, sending it into rare unicorn territory - companies valued at more than one billion dollars - and making it the biggest fintech deal of the year.