Ola buys the Indian neobank Avail

Indian mobility company Ola has announced its intention to acquire Avail Finance, an Indian neobank focused on blue-collar workers.

Why is this important: While most know Ola for its ride-sharing business, the deal will expand its banking and lending capabilities, particularly for its driver-partner workforce. In other words, it builds a super-application.

Between the lines: Ola is no stranger to financial services, having first launched its mobile wallet and payment product Ola Money in 2015.

  • Since then, it has rolled out other financial products like insurance, credit cards and car loans for its driver-partners.
  • More recently, Ola touted the 800 crore rupees (~$105m) it invested in its financial services business last year and claims to have 40m customers for its ‘buy now, pay later’ product. “, Ola Postpaid.

The plot: The deal could come under scrutiny as Ola co-founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal is the brother of Avail Finance founder and CEO Ankush Aggarwal.

  • The companies also share common investors in Alpha Wave Global and Matrix Partners.
  • And prior to the acquisition, Ola held a 9% stake in Avail through the neobank’s Series A funding round.

Rollback: In December, Ola raised $139 million at a valuation of around $7.3 billion ahead of its expected IPO in the first half of 2022.

  • Meanwhile, Avail Finance had raised approximately $38.5 million in funding since its inception in 2017.

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