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BW Businessworld

The Fintech Finesse

Having already disbursed loans to more than 1 lakh merchants, the company aims to enable credit to 10 lakh small merchants and kirana store owners in 2021

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MONEY, ECONOMICS AND PAYMENT METH­ODS have undergone several changes ever since we can recall. This, of course, is a testa­ment of our progress as a species. The digiti­sation of payments paved a road to achieve an easy, convenient, fast and secure payment method. “The pandemic, in particular, acted as a catalyst to the growth of digital payments in the country. UPI itself doubled from 0.9 billion transactions to 2.2 billion transactions,” says Ashneer Grover, Co-Founder and CEO, BharatPe. 

BharatPe outgrew the market and had grown 4X during the pandemic period, doubling its market share since April. In November 2020, BharatPe toppled Google Pay to become the third-largest player in the UPI P2M (person-to-merchant) category. “Today, we have an annual­ised transaction value of over US$ 7 bn. We have an entrenched network of over five million merchants across 65 cities in the country. More importantly, our lending business has grown 10X. Today, we are dis­bursing close to Rs. 200 crores of loans every month. We have already disbursed loans to more than one lakh merchants and aims to enable credit to ten lakh small merchants and kirana store owners in 2021,” Grover says.

Focus On Innovation

Innovation has been at the forefront for BharatPe. They have invested in creating disruptive fintech products and solutions that can power the SME businesses across the country and help them grow. Grover states, “There are quite a few innovations that BharatPe has to its credit, since its early days. BharatPe was the first to launch an interoperable UPI QR that allowed merchants to accept payments from a range of mobile wal­lets. We were also the first to also make the QR payment transaction fee zero, thereby empowering the merchants to earn more.” He further adds, “When we ventured into credit in 2019, we did so with the core objective of addressing the credit gap of the country. We also launched a range of loan products for merchants (including the ones who were new to credit).” 

Committed to a high-perfor­mance culture at BharatPe, tal­ent is their biggest asset. “We have the lowest rate of attrition among all start-ups – fintech or otherwise. We are the only start-up of our lineage with the ten-member leadership team, many of whom have joined us during or post the pandemic,” shares Grover.

We are well aware of the action on the digital payments side from the customer stand­point, with global behemoths like Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, Amazon Pay fighting for their market share. Grover believes that BharatPe is an unintended benefi­ciary of the hyper-competition on the consumer side. He states, “We operate on the merchant side of payments. Our offerings for mer­chants are so differentiated that we are a notch above our competitors.” 

Leveraging Technology

Along with its vision to create con­venient and secure fintech prod­ucts that can find takers in the mer­chant community while helping them grow their business, the com­pany is focused on leveraging tech­nology to build products that could be easy to use, have no hidden charges and can find resonance with the small merchants. 

When asked Grover about his plans for 2021, he states, “We will continue to roll out products in line with the requirements of the mer­chants. We are working on launch­ing a wholesaler financing product called ‘BharatPe D2R’, which stands for distributor to retailer.” He adds, “We will underwrite wholesalers and extend them a credit line, which distributors can offer to their end-retail partners and kirana owners.” 

The average ticket size of the credit line to distributors will be around 50 lakh, with retailers per­mitted loans up to one lakh for 30 days. We will also be launching cards and some products in the secured lending category in the near future.