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Slice joins unicorn club with $220 million fundraise led by Tiger Global, Insight Partners

Slice will further launch more payments products, starting with UPI. Currently it is issuing 200,000 pay later Visa cards a month, just behind leading credit card issuers like HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank.

November 29, 2021 / 07:13 AM IST
Slice is the 41st unicorn in 2021, a year that witnessed an unprecedented funding boom led by fintech startups.

Slice is the 41st unicorn in 2021, a year that witnessed an unprecedented funding boom led by fintech startups.

Fintech Slice said on November 29 that it has raised $220 million in a Series B funding round which values the company at above $1 billion. The round was led by US investment giant Tiger Global and New York-based private equity and venture capital firm Insight Partners which joined as new investors.

New and existing investors, including Advent International’s Sunley House Capital, Moore Strategic Ventures, Anfa, Gunosy, Blume Ventures, and 8i also participated in the round. Flipkart founder Binny Bansal and Guillaume Pousaz, founder of London-headquartered payments platform checkout.com have also invested in the round.

The company currently provides a Visa card focused on millennials which allows customers to pay for their purchases in three installments. The company's card issuance spiked from 20,000 in January 2021 to 200,000 per month currently led by the growing appetite for credit in India.

Slice's 'super card' serves as a simpler alternative for credit cards with lower credit limits making more people eligible to avail the benefits of paying later. The company's monthly issuance is now in-line with leading banks like HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank that issue anywhere between 2,00,000 to 3,00,000 credit cards per month.

The growth over the past year coupled with the potential going forward has led to an five times jump in valuation from its previous round, underscoring the current investor appetite in India.

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Slice is the 41st unicorn in 2021, a year that witnessed an unprecedented funding boom led by fintech startups. A unicorn is a privately owned entity with a valuation of $1 billion or above.

In an interview with Moneycontrol Slice’s founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj said that in its next phase of growth, the Bengaluru-based startup plans to invest in technology and product design and add more products starting with Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

“We have now reached a phase where our revenues are growing fast. Many customers who will use UPI on our platform will start using our revenue-generating card product. Many existing card customers, too, will be able to use UPI for their payments,” Bajaj said.

The company’s turnover for FY21 stood at Rs 35 crore as compared to Rs 30 crore in the previous financial year, according to regulatory filings. Loss after deducting taxes stood at Rs 8.9 crore, up from 1.87 crore in FY20.

“We are number three in card issuance. Our next competition will probably from another fintech card issuer or a bank. We are currently growing by 40 percent every month. We expect this growth to continue,” he added.

Slice also plans to offer credit through UPI once the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) re-introduces the product. Eventually, the platform will foray into more payment modes and financial services.

Bajaj explained, “We plan to take a big slice of consumer payments in India. We will also introduce products like wallets and for tokensation. Further product launches will happen as transactions grow on our platform.”

With its product plans, Slice will find itself competing with various fintech and bank players. As a pay later card issuer it already competes with banks, startups like Uni and Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) companies which are a growing tribe.

Its plans to grow in the payments space set it up against PhonePe, Google Pay, Paytm which have a huge share of UPI and wallet payments in India.

For 70 percent of Slice’s customers, the card is their primary mode of making credit payments. The company earns through interchange fees, commissions from merchants and interest from late payments by customers.

Alex Cook, Partner at Tiger Global, said, “We expect Slice’s product to result in continued growth and market share gains. We are excited to partner with Rajan and the team as they expand access to credit.”

Deven Parekh, Managing Director at Insight Partners said that Slice targets an underpenetrated market in India referring to the low credit card penetration in India of only three percent.

“There is a large opportunity in the credit and payment space in India, and slice is well-positioned to become the leader in the industry,” he added.

Founded by IIT Kharagpur alumnus Bajaj in 2016, the company currently has five million registered users. In its last round of fundraising, Slice had raised $20 million from investors Gunosy and Blume Ventures.

In September this year, the company lowered its credit limit to start from Rs 2,000 in a bid to make more users eligible for its product. The startup also introduced a three-day work week, with a plan to hire 1,000 full-time engineers, product managers, as well as designers under the program in the next five years.

Slice, which holds a Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) license will come under the purview of the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) impending digital lending norms as it offers a credit product. A working group by the RBI had released recommendations to regulate digital lending in India on November 18​.
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Priyanka Iyer
Chandra R Srikanth is Editor- Tech, Startups, and New Economy
first published: Nov 29, 2021 07:13 am
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