India’s BharatPe valued at $2.85 billion in Tiger Global-led $370 million funding – TechCrunch

by Joseph K. Clark

Indian fintech startup BharatPe has raised $370 million in a new financing round as it looks to aggressively scale its business in the next two years. It’s the nineteenth Indian startup to become a unicorn this year (up from 11 last year) as several high-profile global investors double down in the South Asian market.

The new round — a Series E — was led by Tiger Global and valued the New Delhi-based startup at $2.85 billion (post-money), it said in a statement Tuesday evening. Dragoneer Investor Group and Steadfast Capital also participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s to-date raise to over $580 million against equity.

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Tuesday’s news confirms a TechCrunch scoop from June in which we reported that the four-year-old startup was looking to raise about $250 million at a pre-money valuation of $2.5 billion. Bharat was valued at about $900 million in its Series D round in February this year and $425 million last year.

Bharat co-founder Ashneer Grover confirmed that the startup was looking to raise $250 million until inbound requests from investors prompted an oversubscription. The new investment also includes some secondary transactions.

Bharat, which counts Coatue, Ribbit Capital, and Sequoia Capital India among its existing investors, operates an eponymous service to help offline merchants accept digital payments and secure working capital. Even as India has already emerged as the second-largest internet market, with more than 650 million users, much of the country remains offline.

Among those outside of the reach of the internet are merchants running small businesses, such as roadside tea stalls and neighborhood stores. Bharat relies on QR codes and point of sale machines that support government-backed UPI payments infrastructure to make these merchants comfortable accepting digital payments.

The startup, which serves more than 7 million merchants in over 130 Indian cities, has disbursed close to $300 million to merchant partners. It does not charge merchants for universal QR code access but is looking to make money by lending.

The startup plans to expand its product offerings and work with Centrum Financial Services. It was recently granted India’s central bank (Reserve Bank of India) to set up a small finance bank. (Centrum Financial Services has collaborated with BharatPe for the license, and the Indian startup says the two are “equal” partners.)

Tuesday’s development further illustrates the growing interest of Tiger Global in India. The New York-headquartered firm has backed dozens of Indian startups, including social commerce startup DealShare, edtech Class plus, Apna (an app that helps blue-collar workers connect with recruiters), and home services platform Urban Company in recent months.

On Tuesday, Infra. Market, an Indian startup that helps construction and real estate companies procure materials and handle logistics for their projects, said it had raised $125 million in a round also led by Tiger Global. 

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