Golden Education, a China-based financial education company, closed a Rmb800 million ($115 million) round of Series C funding on Monday.
Hillhouse Capital led the round and was joined by Morgan Stanley, and private equity firms Yonghua Capital and Vision Knight Capital.
Proceeds will be used to develop international financial education services for its customers, and to use artificial intelligence and cloud computing to serve its individual customers, according to Golden.
As this round’s lead investor, Hillhouse Capital is optimistic about Golden's future in financial education for both corporate and individual customers. Its business will be more valuable when Golden Education starts to apply big data for customer services, according to Hillhouse.
Founded in 2006, Golden Education started with its corporate financial training business in China and expanded into personal financial training in 2008. Golden Education now provides personal training for financial certification and fiscal consultation training for corporates.
Golden offers courses for Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) accreditation, Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credentials, Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation, as well as several Chinese certificates in the fields of fund management, equities, and futures.
The company has over 40 branches in China, with more than 50,000 corporate clients and 3 million individual students.
The company raised Series A funding in 2014, with $35 million from New York-listed New Oriental Education. It raised an undisclosed Series B funding from Nasdaq-listed 51job in August 2015. Proceeds from both were used to develop Golden's online financial education plans.
Exams are an increasingly popular route into the financial sector. According to global association CFA Institute, 179,241 candidates took the CFA test in June this year, an 18% increase on the same month last year. Golden caters to this trend. It offers Chinese textbooks and courses to help Chinese students pass these tests.
Investment in online education continues to boom, and the total raised in the first six months of this year is close to the full figure for last year, according to research from Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission. There was a 10.7% increase in Chinese online education users to 172 million by June this year, but the biggest leap came from mobile online education users. That group had grown by 23 million to 142 million.
The Chinese government is also trying to push the industry forward. Beijing released new regulations in April this year, which encourage more private companies to start online and offline education. The continuous capital investment in such sector is unlikely to stop any time soon.