20. TALA

Persephone Kavallines

Founder: Shivani Siroya (CEO)
Launched: 2011
Headquarters: Santa Monica, California
$217.2 million (PitchBook)
Valuation: $516 million (PitchBook)
Key technologies:
Artificial intelligence, machine learning
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 1 (No. 29 in 2020)

On a mission to accelerate financial health for underserved populations, TALA's mobile platform provides access to loans of $10 to $500 to people in Mexico, Kenya, India and the Philippines. Its customers typically have no formal credit history, so it relies on its own data science to analyze other factors to assess risk.

The company does this by looking at a user's texts, merchant transactions and other behavioral data through its Android app to create a credit profile. Its machine learning algorithms evaluate all this data to determine the customer's risk profile. Legacy banks typically rely on a credit score to determine a person's eligibility for a loan, and most online lenders check a person's financial history.

The company says it can approve a loan within minutes and disperses the money via mobile payment platforms. TALA says it has lent over $1 billion to more than four million customers. It charges a one-time fee as low as 5% for each loan, and the company says more than 90% of its customers repay their loan within 20 to 30 days. Most are recurring customers.

Earlier this month, TALA announced a partnership with Visa to build a platform that would allow its users to buy and use cryptocurrencies, starting with USDC, a digital currency pegged to the U.S. dollar. Eventually, TALA users will be able to use the cryptocurrency to send money across borders, giving them increased access to the global financial system.

CEO and founder Shivani Siroya started TALA after a career in investment banking sprinkled with stints at the United Nations and other organizations focused on global health. The company has raised more than $200 million in venture funding from investors including PayPal Ventures, GV, and Revolution Growth.

Contributed by David Spiegel

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