BharatPe is an Indian financial startup that targets small business owners and kirana shop operators. Interoperable QR codes for UPI payments, Bharat Swipe (POS machine) for card acceptance, and small business financing are among the company’s fintech offerings.

Small businesses can use the BharatPe QR code to take payments via UPI (Unified Payments Interface) for free. It also provides merchant loans of up to Rs. 7 lacs with terms ranging from 3 to 12 months. One of the other offerings is the 12 percent Club, which is a peer-to-peer lending platform. They will develop a Digital Gold solution for merchants in 2020.

How BharatPe Started?

Ashneer Grover and Shashvnat Nakrani co-founded the company in 2018, and it is headquartered in New Delhi, India. As BharatPe brand ambassadors, they signed cricketers Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina, Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw, Sanju Samson, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Shubhman Gill in 2020.  Suhail Sameer was hired as the group president later in 2020. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) granted Centrum Financial Services Limited In-Principle approval to create a Small Finance Bank (SFB) with BharatPe in June 2021.It has expanded its network to 100 cities across India, including tier 2 and 3 cities, as of March 2021.

BharatPe expands to 100 cities

BharatPe has expanded its coverage across India to 100 locations, including tier 2 and 3 cities, with the goal of covering 300 cities by 2023. The expansion is the result of BharatPe’s recent $108 million Series D investment round, which was led by New York-based hedge fund Coatue Management.

“The expansion is in keeping with the company’s explosive growth in tier-2 and beyond areas over the last year.” Over the previous year, BharatPe has seen a significant surge in digital transactions outside of its top 30 cities, with a 70 percent increase in the number of transactions and a 120 percent increase in the value of transactions (TPV).

BharatPe’s group president, Suhail Sameer, stated, “We are focused on increasing awareness about digital payments and providing new age fintech services to the last mile in India.” By the end of 2021, BharatPe intends to add 4 million merchants to its present list of over 6 million, according to Sameer.

BharatPe co-founder and CEO Ashneer Grover previously told Mint that the business hopes to raise close to $500 million in debt by FY23, after raising $35 million from venture financing providers Alteria Capital, Trifecta Capital, and InnoVen. Grover previously stated that the company now plans to raise $200 million in loans from banks and other financial institutions this year.

“We believe that equitable access to digital services is critical to bring a transformative change in the economy. With rapidly growing acceptance of UPI services across India, we intend to provide the right payments and credit platform, and make a positive difference in the lives of millions of underserved or unbanked merchants,” said Nishant Jain, chief business officer, BharatPe.

Merchant launch by BharatPe

BharatPe piloted its merchant-focused QR code in Nehru Place, a commercial hotspot in New Delhi, in June 2018. In the first month, over 1,000 merchants signed up, attracted by the compatibility feature and, more crucially, the free transaction fees. Grover claims that retailers would insist on cash merely to avoid transaction fees, as they operate on 15% margins.

“In a manner, we were able to answer the reason why online wallets weren’t taking off in India—shopkeepers didn’t like getting taxed for digital transactions,” Grover explains. Not only that, but merchants received their money the same day, which wasn’t customary at the time, he adds.

Future of BharatPe

The company wanted to try something fresh, so they launched Paisa Bolega this year. This button turns the shopkeeper’s phone into a megaphone, loudly announcing the transaction’s value. The corporation plans to disburse roughly Rs. 700 crores by the end of the year.

They claim that shops’ demands would increase, thus this is their next plan. Recently, the corporation disbursed roughly Rs 140 crores. According to the company’s founder, there has been no recent change in shopkeeper loan demand, so they plan to carry forward with it, and they believe that rental payments and inventory payments will soon climb.

In a press release dated July 15, 2021, BharatPe started its future aspirations to expand its POS business. BharatPe, which is currently ranked third in private POS systems, aims to triple the size of its POS business, BharatSwipe. BharatPe wants to grow to $ 6 billion in yearly TPV by the end of FY22. By the conclusion of the next financial year, the firm wants to expand its entire reach by 5x and make BharatSwipe popular in 80 cities across India. BharatPe plans to rapidly scale up its lending vertical, aiming for a 10x increase in lending by FY23.