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With this investment, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin has raised $800 million to grow Affirm, which lets consumers pre-qualify for loans to buy flights, hotels, rental cars, seat upgrades, and non-travel products. Who said payments aren't sexy?

Affirm, a startup helping Americans pay for consumer goods over time, has raised $300 million in a new funding round. That brings Affirm’s equity funding total to more than $800 million since its founding in 2012.

Thrive Capital led the round. Other new investors included Fidelity Management and Research Company, Baillie Gifford, Wellington Management Company LLP, and Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures.

CEO Max Levchin, who co-founded PayPal in 2002 and has served on the boards of Yelp, Yahoo, and Evernote to name a few, created Affirm to change how travelers pay for trips and other consumer products by helping them pay over installments. In 2018, it had a loan volume of more than $2 billion, it said.

Affirm had gained traction in the travel sector with partnerships with companies like Expedia. Late last year, Levchin said the company would continue to focus on travel.

However, in recent months, non-travel brands like Walmart, Warby Parker, Verizon Visible, and Room and Board have added Affirm as a payment option at checkout and the company may increasingly find travel is just one part of its broader portfolio.

“While we entered the travel space a few years ago and have continued to expand our presence, as a company we are focused on many verticals including travel,” said a spokesperson. “As we grow, we will continue to develop new products in our offering that are specifically designed for the needs of a vertical, like travel or apparel, or even a merchant, such as our Walmart partnership, which features a product experience designed exclusively for them.”

Affirm faces rivals. Most prominently in the U.S. is Uplift, a financial services vendor with an explicit travel emphasis that in January raised $123 million in a Series C equity round.

Levchin spoke at Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley last June, arguing that online travel agencies, airlines, and hotels chose to partner with an outside company like Affirm to provide the service because they didn’t want to have to worry about interchange and processing fees or increased fraud risk. However, in theory, these companies could take the job of installment payments in-house. See the video of Levchin’s talk.

Payments services, known as fintech, have seen a rash of deals recently, with the biggest under current consideration by regulators being a merger between Fidelity National Information Services Inc. (FIS) and Worldpay for about $34 billion in cash and stock.

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Tags: Affirm, payments, startups, uplift

Photo credit: Affirm CEO Max Levchin spoke at Skift Tech Forum in June 2018 in Silicon Valley. Levchin has raised $800 million to grow Affirm, a startup that lets consumers pre-qualify for loans to buy flights and more. Skift

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