BharatPe, a startup that provides merchant payments solutions and other financial services, said it has raised $370 million in its Series E round led by Tiger Global, making it the latest entrant to the unicorn club, as the funding frenzy continues in India's startup ecosystem.
The new round values BharatPe at $2.85 billion, making it the 19th Indian startup to become a 'unicorn' this year, a term used to refer to privately valued startups that have a valuation of over $1 billion dollars.
It also saw new participation from Dragoneer Investment Group and Steadfast Capital. Five out of the seven existing institutional investors participated in the round were Coatue Management, Insight Partners, Sequoia Growth, Ribbit Capital and Amplo.
BharatPe was previously valued at over $900 million barely nine months ago. Of the $370 million, the secondary component is $20 million, giving an opportunity for its employees to cash out.
The company also announced a top management rejig. While Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and CEO, will be elevated as the Co–Founder and Managing Director, Suhail Sameer will be the new CEO and has also joined the Board.
While Sameer would be responsible for the overall Business and P&L, Merchant Network Expansion, monetisation, lending, banking foray and the brand. Grover will lead strategy, product, technology, capital (IPO, equity and debt) and drive the overall people agenda, the company said.
"We now have $0.5 billion cash on books and are extremely well capitalised to deliver on our mandate to build India’s first truly digital bank. BharatPe will remain maniacally focused on lending as the core business and small merchants as our primary target segment," Grover said.
The company will use the freshly-raised funds to grow its core business and capitalise Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on June 18 had granted 'in-principle' approval to Centrum Financial Services Limited and BharatPe to set up a small finance bank (SFB), paving the way for the entity to take over the crisis-ridden PMC Bank.
BharatPe's co-founder Ashneer Grover had said then that his first agenda was to get the bank up and running and that he was hopeful this would happen by the fourth quarter of calendar year 2021. As part of this, BharatPe and Centrum would pump in $250-$300 million over the next two years.
Ashneer also created a buzz in the startup ecosystem when he announced that BharatPe would dole out BMW superbikes and a workcation in Dubai to lure engineers, at a time when the war for talent is heating up in the space.