Affirm, a financial technology startup led by PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, announced Wednesday that it has raised $275 million in debt and equity funding.
The startup builds consumer financial products, starting with a point-of-sale financing service called “Buy With Affirm” that allows users to take out small loans to pay for online purchases. Companies like mattress startup Casper, secondhand clothing retailer Tradesy, and 3-D-printer company MakerBot offer the “Buy With Affirm” option at checkout, similar to the way they might offer PayPal as a checkout option.
After customers provide some basic information–name, mobile phone number, birthday, last four digits of their Social Security number–Affirm underwrites the loan on the spot, and, if it approves the loan, offers customers a choice of payment plans. Rather than relying on a traditional credit score to make this call, Affirm analyzes thousands of public and private databases (including your LinkedIn profile) to make this decision.
Levchin told Fast Company that the driver for the new funding was demand for these loans. “Since we are not a deposit-taking institution, at least not yet, we need to borrow money so we can lend it,” he said. “The primary user for the funds is just putting them to work in our point of sale and other loan products.”
Affirm’s ambitions extend beyond point of sale, which it recently expanded to offline purchases. It has also, for instance, begun to finance tuition for online school General Assembly. Eventually, Levchin told Fast Company in its November issue, Affirm wants to reimagine the entire idea of a bank.
Though Levchin says he hates “preannouncing” products, he did say Affirm will likely at some point launch a card, and that it is currently working on features that help customers make smarter financial decisions.
Spark Capital Growth led the investment and was joined by new investors Jefferies and Andreessen Horowitz, along with existing investors Khosla Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Affirm has raised $325 million to date.