Big banks are betting on online lender Avant

August 20, 2015, 11:00 AM UTC
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Avant, an online consumer loan provider, is getting a big vote of confidence from a number of banking giants. The online lender said Thursday that it has raised $139 million in debt led by Jefferies and another $200 million in debt co-led by J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Credit Suisse.

These recently minted deals bring Avant’s funding total to $1.1 billion in debt financing and $334 million in equity financing.

The company, who which counts PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) as investors, is part of the wave of upstarts that lend people money online. Unlike Lending Club (LC), which connects borrowers with outside lenders, Avant makes loans to consumers from its own capital and debt.

CEO Al Goldstein explained that Avant want to focus to the U.S. and U.K. middle class, with loans ranging from $1,000 to $35,000. The average loan size is $8,000.

This year, Avant expects to loan $2 billion, quadruple the $500 million it loaned in 2014. By comparison, Lending Club issued $2 billion in loans in the second quarter.

But with the Jeffries transaction, a large financial institution is actually going to start selling the debt to others, a vote in Avant’s strength as a reliable lender. This also marks the first time a financial institution is securitizing Avant’s loans.

“We are pleased to support our client Avant with attractive financing solutions,” Brian McGrath, co-head of mortgage and asset backed securities at Jefferies, said in a statement. “We appreciate the response of our capital market investor clients to this growing sector of investment opportunities.”

Goldstein said that while Avant focuses on personal loans, the lending site will eventually expand to auto, credit card, student loans, and mortgages. He added that he’s in no rush to take Avant public, but that at some point it will be a public company.

Perhaps the reason he’s hesitant to enter the public markets is because Lending Club and fellow online lender On Deck Capital (ONDK) are taking a beating on Wall Street this summer, with both companies’ shares plummeting below the opening prices of their respective initial public offerings. Analysts have speculated that investors believe the companies are overvalued considering the competitive and regulatory risks in the alternative lending space.

In July, the U.S. Treasury said it would be taking a deeper look into the growing online lending industry.

But there are glimmers of hope for online lenders, including Avant’s new funding. Other traditional banks are starting to see opportunity in online lending. Goldman Sachs (GS) reportedly will soon let consumers apply for and receive small loans online.

For more about fundings, watch this Fortune video:

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