BharatPe: Beyond Controversies

The company caters to more than 63 million micro, small and medium enterprises

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Founded in 2018, BharatPe is a merchant payments startup that launched India's first interoperable UPI QR code, to offer a single interface for all existing UPI apps including Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM, Mobikwik, Freecharge, TrueCaller and others. The fintech unicorn is backed by marquee investors such as Tiger Global, Dragoneer Investment Group and Steadfast Capital, among others. The startup was founded by Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani. However, after a string of controversies, Grover recently resigned as managing director and board director of BharatPe.

Company Handout

The company caters to more than 63 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), including offline merchants and kirana store owners, with a range of fintech products. It also offers loans to small businesses and kirana store owners, which is a highly underbanked and unserved category, in partnership with its NBFC partners. "The loan application process is 100 per cent digital and the disbursal is quick. Our collection rates are the best in the market at 96 per cent. This is possible because of our innovative Easy Daily Instalments (EDIs)," says Suhail Sameer, CEO, BharatPe.

Since the launch of the product, BharatPe has been able to facilitate loans of over INR 3000 crores to over 3 lakh merchant partners, in association with its NBFC partners. It also ventured into the POS business in the middle of COVID in 2020 by launching zero rental POS machine with the option of zero transaction fee. "Our biggest differentiator is that we are a merchant-focused company. Merchant is the center of everything we build. Hence, over the last 3.5 years of our existence, we have launched products that are industry-first, disruptive and have been well-received and appreciated by the merchant," he says.

Within three years of its launch, BharatPe entered the coveted Unicorn club in August 2021 after raising $370 million as a part of Series E fundraise, led by New York-based Tiger Global. With this deal, the company was valued at 2.85 billion and became the fifth fintech startup in 2021 to achieve Unicorn status.

The growth comes at the back of a strong technology stack. Talking about the tech stack, Vijay Aggarwal, CTO, BharatPe, tells us, "We use the latest tools and technologies available in the open-source ecosystem. We are fully on cloud. All our applications are cloud-native, i.e., they are built from the ground up to take full advantage of cloud capabilities. This enables us to scale quickly and easily in line with business growth. We also integrate security deeply into our tech stack, right from development to deployment, to ensure we adhere to high standards all through the chain."

The startup aspires to be the one-stop destination for fintech products for offline merchants in India. It also claims to have reached a $16 billion annualized total payment value in December 2021 and its revenue is likely to go up 4x in the current fiscal as compared to the last fiscal. "Going forward, we will invest a lot more energy towards our vision of bringing millions of small merchants and new to credit consumers in the purview of formal economy by helping them avail low-cost credit and other financial services. Also, we are committed to building India's first truly Digital Bank. We have the trust of our merchants, an outstanding team, large capital reserves and the backing of world's most credible investors to achieve that," says Sameer.

Sameer believes that as a fintech company, one should be willing to reiterate or rebuild the product as the market evolves. "Innovation is key, irrespective of the size of your business," he says.