Indian fintech start-up BharatPe has raised $ 370 million in a new round of funding as it seeks to aggressively expand its business over the next two years. It is the nineteenth Indian startup to become a unicorn this year (up from 11 last year) as several leading global investors double their efforts in the South Asian market.
The new round – an E Series – was led by Tiger Global and valued the New Delhi-based startup at $ 2.85 billion (post-money), he said in a statement Tuesday evening. Dragoneer Investor Group and Steadfast Capital also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s increase to date to over $ 580 million relative to equity.
Tuesday’s news confirms a TechCrunch scoop from June in which we reported that the four-year-old startup was looking to raise around $ 250 million to a pre-currency valuation of $ 2.5 billion. BharatPe was valued at around $ 900 million in its Series D cycle in February of this year and $ 425 million last year.
BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover has confirmed that the startup is indeed looking to raise $ 250 million until incoming requests from investors lead to oversubscription. The new investment also includes a few side deals ($ 20 million).
The startup, mired in sketchy behavior and which has seen some of its top executives leave in recent quarters, has also appointed Suhail Sameer as its new chief executive.
“I am pleased to appoint Suhail Sameer as CEO in recognition of the extraordinary business growth he has achieved over the past year and his ability to lead from the start,” said Grover, adding that he will oversee the strategy, the product, the technology and the capital move forward.
BharatPe, which counts Coatue, Ribbit Capital and Sequoia Capital India among its existing investors, operates an eponymous service to help offline merchants accept digital payments and secure working capital.
Even though India has already become the second largest internet market, with over 650 million users, much of the country remains offline.
Among those beyond the reach of the Internet are traders who run small businesses, such as roadside tea stalls and neighborhood stores. To make these merchants comfortable accepting digital payments, BharatPe relies on QR codes and point-of-sale machines that support the government-backed UPI payment infrastructure.
The startup, which serves more than 7 million merchants in more than 130 Indian cities, said it has paid nearly $ 300 million to merchant partners. It does not charge merchants for universal access to the QR code, but seeks to make money by lending.
BharatPe plans to expand its product offering and work with Centrum Financial Services, with which the Indian central bank (Reserve Bank of India) recently licensed it to set up a small financing bank. (Centrum Financial Services collaborated with BharatPe for the license, and the Indian startup claims the two are “equal” partners.)
“We now have $ 0.5 billion in cash on the books and are extremely well capitalized to fulfill our mandate to build India’s first true digital bank. Rarely does a witness see the original thesis unfold without any pivot, ”said Grover.
Tuesday’s development further illustrates Tiger Global’s growing interest in India. The New York-based company has supported dozens of Indian startups, including social commerce startup DealShare, edtech Classplus, Apna (an app that helps blue-collar workers connect with recruiters) and the Urban Company home services platform. these last months.
On Tuesday, Infra.Market, an Indian startup that helps construction and real estate companies source materials and manage project logistics, said it raised $ 125 million in a funding round also led by Tiger Global.