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Friction is Good: Social Network for Credit Innovator, Vouch Raises $6 Million


Fresh off its debut at FinovateSpring 2015 in San Jose, the world’s first social network for credit, Vouch, has raised $6 million in Series A funding from new and existing investors. Vouch’s total capital now stands at more than $9 million, and will help fuel the company’s ability to expand both the number and size of loans offered to its customers.

New investors included Cooley LLP, Data Collective, Stanford StartX Fund, and Core Innovation Capital, whose founder and managing partner, Arjan Schütte, will join the Vouch board of directors. They were joined by existing Vouch investors, AngelList, First Round Capital, Greylock, and IDG Ventures.

If you didn’t think P2P lending could get any more “P”, then you don’t know Vouch. The online lender enables borrowers to develop a “Vouch network”, including friends and family willing to “vouch” for their loans. By vouching, the friend or family member agrees to pay some increment of the loan if the borrower does not. Borrowers can take out larger loans on better terms based on the size and quality of their network. Schütte referred to the platform “simple, yet transformative.”

Vouch provides installment loans ranging from $500 to $15,000, with interest rates between 5% and 30%. Borrowers must have a minimum FICO score of 600, and they cannot be engaged in bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings. Vouch charges a loan-origination fee between 1% and 5% of the amount borrowed.

Vouch combines the increasingly widespread tactic of leveraging social networks to learn more about an individual borrower’s creditworthiness with proven financial strategies like co-signing and sponsorship. TechCrunch reports that more than 70% of the company’s traffic is mobile (both iOS and Android), and more than half the platform’s users are female and older than 35 years of age. According to Vouch co-founder and CEO Yee Lee, a quarter of those using the technology are first-generation immigrant to the U.S., as he is. Founding the company along with Lee in 2013 were Sue Horn (formerly of Prosper) and Hugh Olliphant (formerly of PayPal). Lee is also a PayPal veteran.

Based in San Francisco, Vouch was the first company to present at FinovateSpring last week. CEO Yee Lee started off his demo and the event with a bang. Explaining how his platform likes the idea of keeping “friction intentionally high” during the onboarding process for both potential borrowers and potential vouchers, Lee offered the eyebrow-raising observation that sometimes in fintech “friction is good.”

Find out why in Vouch’s live demo at FinovateSpring 2015 available in our Video Archives later this week.