Mumbai: Russia’s Sistema Asia Fund and Singapore’s Vertex Ventures are in discussions to lead a Series C round in digital lender Kissht, said two people aware of the development.

The discussions gained momentum in recent weeks after the talks between Kissht and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s venture capital firm, B Capital Group, failed to make headway, the people mentioned above said, requesting anonymity.

Mint had reported on 3 September that Kissht was looking to raise up to $50 million, and was in discussions with potential investors, including B Capital. The company has appointed Investec as the transaction advisor. “Sistema Asia Fund has come in and Vertex is also in talks to co-invest," the first person cited above added.

Dhruv Kapoor, managing director, Sistema Asia Capital Advisory, declined to comment. Email queries to Kissht, Ben Mathias, managing partner at Vertex Ventures, and existing investor Fosun RZ Capital and Investec, did not elicit any response.

Kissht is a consumer credit start-up founded in 2015 by former McKinsey consultants Krishnan Vishwanathan and Ranvir Singh. It allows consumers to pay for their online orders in monthly instalments, without a credit card. The company has tied up with over 3,000 offline stores and over 50 online merchant partners, including Amazon, Flipkart, Caratlane, MakeMyTrip and Uber, according to its website. It uses proprietary algorithms to assess the creditworthiness of a potential buyer and processes credit purchases instantly. Kissht had raised $10 million in its last round, which was led by Fosun, with participation from Prophet Capital, Beijing, and existing investors Ventureast and Endiya Partners. In 2016, it had raised a $3-million Series A round from Ventureast and Endiya Partners.

Sistema Asia Fund is a venture capital fund established in 2015 by Russian IT and financial services conglomerate Sistema. The fund is headquartered in Singapore and invests in mid-stage (Series B and later investment rounds) high-tech companies in India and South-East Asia in the B2C and B2B segments.

It has stable sources of revenue and has the potential to go global. It focuses on consumer tech, such as e-commerce, healthcare, transport, media, finance and education, and enterprise tech as in Internet of Things (IoT) platform solutions, big data, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

Vertex Ventures is the venture capital arm of Temasek Holdings Pte., which had closed its third South-East Asian fund at $210 million in October last. It completed its biggest fundraising for South-East Asian and Indian technology deals from overseas investors such as Kasikornbank Pcl of Thailand and Cathay Life Insurance Co. of Taiwan.

Vertex is the oldest venture capital firm in South-East Asia and has offices in Singapore, Bengaluru and Jakarta.

Vertex has had two funds focused on South-East Asia, fully funded by Temasek, Singapore’s state investment firm. Some of its recent investments include InstaReM, which provides cross-border payment services in more than 40 countries; Turnkey Lender, a software company for credit assessment and loan management; and Synup, a digital marketing start-up in India.

The firm plans to continue its strategy of investing in early-stage tech companies in enterprise technology, financial technology and consumer internet.

Sriram Mani contributed to the story.

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