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November 29, 2021

BNPL fintechs slice up India credit market: Slice becomes unicorn

By Eric Johansson

Fintech startup Slice has become a unicorn after a $220m Series B funding round, demonstrating the growing power of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) companies in India.

Slice was founded in 2016. It’s part of India’s burgeoning BNPL industry. Since the launch, the company has positioned itself as an alternative to traditional Indian banks and credit companies.

Slice provides a number of credit cards predominantly targeting millennials and younger consumers. The cards enable Slice’s five million registered users to split their bills into three interest-free monthly instalments. The company has boasted that it is growing its users by about 200,000 new customer registrations each month.

Slice will use the Series B round money to scale the business, with founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj telling Reuters that most of the money “will not be used for burning”.

While Slice has hinted that it may soon launch new cards, the company’s main focus is to launch its services on the state-backed inter-bank money transfer system, Unified Payments Interface (UPI).

“What we are doing for cards today we are also going to do for consumer payments,” Bajaj said.

Google-backed PhonePe and Ant-backed Paytm, which recently raised $2.46bn via India’s biggest-ever initial public offering, already offer UPI-based payments.

As a sidenote, Paytm affiliate Paytm Payments Bank is reportedly considering whether or not it should convert itself into a small finance bank in order to expand its services, Retail Banker International reported last week.

Tiger Global and Insight Partners co-led Slice’s funding round, with Sunley House Capital, Moore Strategic Ventures, Anfa, Gunosy, Blume Ventures and 8i also participating in the raise.

Slice and India’s BNPL industry

BNPL services are not unheard of in India. Slice is facing competition from both traditional banks like ICICI Bank that have muscled into the instalments sector and other BNPL startups like ePayLater, Kissht, Simpl and ZestMoney, as noted by a recent thematic research report by GlobalData.

The global BNPL industry is expected to keep growing to be worth $166bn by 2023, according to the same report. Looking further ahead, it could even reach a valuation of $3.98tn by 2030, according to Allied Market Research.

Indian BNPL companies like Slice are predominantly targeting the nation’s over 290 million millennials. In short, they are offering alternative services to the archaic credit providers in India. Traditional providers have long faced criticism for their outdated methods of checking customers’ creditworthiness.

Slice is using its own underwriting process to solve this issue, according to TechCrunch.