Blume Ventures backed by Leverage Edu launches FlyFinance

Startup’s Fly finance mainly focuses on student remittances and education loans, both as a platform game. The company also plans to launch a debit card

Study abroad platform LeverageEdu, which started by helping students enroll in international universities, has now received its FFMC license from the RBI, founder and CEO Akshay Chaturvedi has said. (the brand under which Leverage Edu operates its financial services business) was launched earlier this year. It mainly focuses on student remittances and education loans, both as a platform game. The company has achieved a processed transaction value (TPV) of ₹135 Cr in forex, while facilitating student loans worth more than ₹280 Cr this fall. Rachit Juneja, previously at Blume Ventures, operationally leads the unit. Akshay Chaturvedi added, “We have built finance not as a business but as a ‘student need’ that can enhance our clients’ experience – starting with ‘scholarships’ which have become a huge success, then launching officially lending and forex this year.” LeverageEdu has opened up access to a pool of over $1.6 billion in financial aid to over 100,000 students within its community, hosted on the “Study Abroad with Leverage Edu” mobile app. It also launched a ₹5Cr scholarship from its own corpus last year, expanded to ₹7Cr this year. “When it comes to student loans, our focus, like all other things, is the student first, so we haven’t had an NBFC or clean balance sheet approach so far, instead devoting efforts to find the best possible offer for the student. We help students come together as a group and negotiate reduced student loan rates by essentially acting as a collective bargaining unit with the banks,” Chaturvedi added. “It’s a community-driven approach that we’ve seen in other industries: provide a fantastic experience on your core service, let people trust and recognize you, then introduce them to products or services using a language that resonates.” Juneja adds that the student loan unit spends most of its time looking forward to the next intake and then “spends about two months in this bidding process between lenders.” The company always has the right incentives to get the best prices for students. It is important to note that no student is obligated to take the final loan as negotiated by by LeverageEdu. But, if the company is doing its job, the loan offered should be competitive with any alternative loan on the market. “We always encourage students to compare it to other products, and if they find something better than what we found, let us know. Today, the focus is on finding the right partners who can help us win for students,” Chaturvedi says. On the scholarship front, LeverageEdu aims to unlock over $1 billion in declared scholarships over the next two intakes. Unlike some of its peers who are more vertically aligned on student loans, Foreign Remittance is where LeverageEdu doubles down on the central bank’s hard-earned FFMC license showcasing this goal. Speaking on the same topic, Chaturvedi says, “A strong forex business helps us unlock a lot of what we want to do in the future as that student graduates, looks for a job, pays rent , etc. Until last quarter, we were primarily doing B2C forex through third-party licensees, growing 50-70% month-over-month; now we have started to address this from the university side as well, helping institutions to accept fees across borders. The company aims to end FY23 with an annualized TPV of $200 million. The startup also aims to launch a debit card for students traveling to the UK, which has been its main destination market, later this year. Here he will earn money through interchange fees. Going forward, Fly by LeverageEdu wants to create a suite of products that students can access by paying, including convenient consultations with advisors or personalized banking features. “You could think of us as a boutique World Bank for immigrants over the next few years, we want to do whatever it takes to bring them to a better life,” Chaturvedi says.