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Ola to buy Indian neobank Avail

Ryan Lawler
Mar 25, 2022
Illustration of a stick shift that has rupee symbols instead of gear numbers.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

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

Why it matters: While most know Ola for its ride-hailing business, the deal will expand its banking and lending capabilities, particularly for its driver-partner workforce. In other words, it's building a super-app.

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

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

The intrigue: The deal could receive increased scrutiny because Ola's 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 via the neobank's Series A round.

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

  • Meanwhile, Avail Finance had raised about $38.5 million in funding since being founded in 2017.
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