Tencent Leads $300M Round in Lydia, Focuses on “Smart Retail” Investments

French mobile payment company Lydia announced that it has closed a $45 million (40 million euro) series B round led by China’s Tencent.

Existing investors CNP Assurances, XAnge and New Alpha also participated. Lydia, which is similar to Square Cash and Venmo, will use the funds to scale its mobile financial services platform and expand across Europe.

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Launched in 2013 by Antoine Porte and Cyril Chiche, Lydia currently has 3 million customers in France, offering financial services through its mobile app, including payments, insurance, savings, loans and gift cards. The company boasts that 25 percent of 18 to 30 years-old in France have a Lydia account. The company has also launched in the U.K., Ireland, Spain and Portugal, with Germany and Austria reported to be its next targets. Lydia adds about 5,000 new users each day.

The platform also enables its users to instantly borrow up to 1,000 euros ($1,115), as well as take advantage of free credit for comparing Internet providers, opening a bank account, and more.

And for retailers that don’t accept Lydia, the company offers a credit card connected to the user’s Lydia account so they can replenish their balance with their personal IBAN, as well as activate or deactivate features in real time and more. The card can also be enabled for Apple Pay.

"With the new funding round and partner like Tencent, who will help us save a lot of time and avoid costly mistakes in this scaling up phase, we have all the reasons to be ambitious," Chiche, CEO at Lydia, said in a press release. "We are now in a position to challenge the traditional retail banking distribution model with a mobile platform similar to what we see in sectors like retail, music or travel."

Earlier this week, Tencent President Martin Lau revealed at a conference that his company would work to boost its international investments, as well as in industries like “smart retail.”

During a meeting with more than 500 firms backed by Tencent, Lau explained that the development of the company’s WeChat mini-app ecosystem and payment platform will lead to a bigger focus on smart retail and payment platforms in future.