PhonePe expands new funding to $850 million

   2023-05-22 06:05

General Atlantic has poured another $100 million into PhonePe, four months after leading a $350 million investment in the Indian fintech startup that has so far raised $850 million in an ongoing financing round at the height of the slowing global economy.

Walmart-backed PhonePe disclosed the investment in a statement on Monday. The ongoing round values the Bengaluru-headquartered startup at $12 billion. PhonePe is eyeing to raise as much as another $150 million in the ongoing round. General Atlantic invested another $100 million in PhonePe last month.

At a $12 billion valuation, PhonePe is India’s most valuable fintech startup. It competes with Google Pay and Paytm, the latter of which is currently valued at nearly $5 billion.

PhonePe, which completed a full separation from the e-commerce giant Flipkart last year, dominates transactions on UPI, a network built by a coalition of retail banks in India. UPI is the most popular way Indians transact online — it processes more than 8 billion transactions a month. Google’s GPay and PhonePe currently process more than 80% of all UPI transactions.

Seven-year-old PhonePe commands about 50% of all these transactions by value and it’s not slowing down. The company said earlier this year that it was on pace to process transactions worth $1 trillion annually.

Walmart, which also owns a majority share in e-commerce giant Flipkart, said earlier this year that the separation of Flipkart and PhonePe was “very analogous to eBay and PayPal, where each of them operating independently can pursue their own initiatives.”

General Atlantic, which has backed a number of Indian firms including Jio, BillDesk, Byju’s, Amagi, NoBroker and Unacademy over the past decade, plans to deploy at least $2 billion to $3 billion in India over the next five to seven years, according to people familiar with the New York-headquartered growth equity investor’s plans.

The new investment comes at a time when PhonePe is aggressively expanding its product offerings. The startup earlier this year launched a hyperlocal commerce app, called Pincode, that is powered by the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), an Indian government initiative striving to democratize the e-commerce landscape by offering a zero-commission platform.

PhonePe said it will “invest significant effort” in Pincode and in “enabling every Indian shopkeeper spread across every nook and corner, over the next few years.”

PhonePe is looking to capitalize on its 450 million-strong registered user base by expanding into additional financial services, including wealth management, lending, stockbroking, ONDC-based shopping and account aggregation.

One potential obstacle to PhonePe’s growth was the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the organization overseeing the UPI network, which sought to impose market share restrictions on participating players. However, the NPCI has extended the deadline for compliance until 2025, allowing PhonePe two more years of rapid expansion.

In another favorable development, the Reserve Bank of India, the nation’s central bank, has decided to abandon a high-profile project that was initially planned to compete with the UPI platform.

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