When Sky is The Limit for Indian Fintechs

India has around seven Fintech Unicorns as of now, including Paytm, BillDesk, PhonePe, PolicyBazaar, Razorpay, Zerodha, and Pine Labs. Razorpay, Zerodha, and Pine Labs are the recent entry in this Chartbeat.


The year 2020 will be surely remembered for many reasons. One, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic, and other can be a year of many disruption. Technology, without any doubt, is ramping up the financial industry with trends like the application programming interfaces (API) economy, digitization, collaboration, and proving fundamental to brand preservation and growth. And, fintech platforms or financial technology companies are the great enabler of these technology.

There was a time when the name ‘fintech’ represented only the companies that provided much of the banking tech infrastructure. But today, fintech also incorporates innovative companies that are leveraging new digital solutions. The term fintech is a broad, and it is rapidly growing industry serving both consumers and businesses. From mobile banking and insurance to cryptocurrency and investment apps, fintech has broad applications. The fintech platforms have also played a crucial role in making financial access and transaction processing for end-customers via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

The previous year was reasonably a good year for the fintech industry; companies in the payment space witnessed a second gush of growth after the demonetisation. However, the lending companies’ performance were impacted because of the coronavirus pandemic. A KPMG report showed that Indian fintech start-ups roped in around $1.7 billion funding in the first six months of 2020, which is double from the previous year’s $726.6 million.

How Fintech Platforms are Marching Ahead

The fintech landscape in India has been changing rapidly in the past couple of years and has become one of the world’s largest fintech markets after the US, the UK and China. Backed with huge funding, many of these trends from becoming ‘Minicorns’ to ‘Soonicorns’ to ‘Unicorns’ poised to continue well into 2021 and beyond. As of now the country has around seven Fintech Unicorns, which includes PayTm, BillDesk, PhonePe, PolicyBazaar, Razorpay, Zerodha, and Pine Labs. Razorpay, Zerodha, and Pine Labs are the recent entry in the Chartbeat. Digital payments systems have been proving as the flag bearers of the Indian fintech space. Digital payments value of $65 billion in 2019 is likely to jump at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20 per cent till 2023. The overall transaction value in the Indian FinTech market is estimated to double from approximately $65 billion in 2019 to $140 billion in 2023.

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The fintech landscape in India has been changing rapidly in the past couple of years and has become one of the world’s largest fintech markets after the US, the UK and China.

In 2020, fintech apps such as Razorpay and Pine Labs performed extraordinarily as online transactions due to the pandemic for ecommerce and hyperlocal services surged. As a result, contactless digital payments and retailers queued up in to the contactless payments game. The digital payments surge has been thriving by the rapidly climbing Unified Payments Interface (UPI) numbers since April 2020. In November, the UPI transactions grew to 2.2 billion after crossing the 2 billion mark the month before. The valuation of Unicorn fintech company Pine Labs now stands above $2 billion. This makes it the most valued fintech company in the country after Paytm and Walmart-owned PhonePe.

With more than 700 million internet users in India, around 95 per cent of these users are accessing the internet through a mobile phone and using it to transact digitally. This number of internet users is estimated to increase in both urban as well as rural regions in the coming time, indicating a dynamic growth in access to internet. Surprisingly, the demonetisation move by the present government also gave the massive push to the fintech sector. On the same side, the government policies are also evolving quickly, providing a favourable environment to the fintech sector.

The year 2021 might be well known as a year of remarkable adaptation and transformation. Fintech has already disrupted the way people do businesses, invest, borrow, save and transfer funds through online and mobile services. Now organisations have actually developed innovative digital strategies to navigate a more volatile economic landscape, they must also take up the challenge of putting those plans into practice.

With people working, shopping, and banking from home to follow the social distancing measures, the fintech sector was impacted partially. But despite the gloomy clouds of the ongoing pandemic, the trends in online banking, lending, and digital and contactless payments are expected to continue further. And with vaccines being rolled out, the woes of the pandemic could fade away in the coming years.

Fintech Platforms To Watch Out For in 2021

CoinDCX: Mumbai-based CoinDCX is a cryptocurrency exchange platform that allows users to buy, sell, and trade digital currencies through an encrypted network. The company has recently launched its app CoinDCX Go which aims to take crypto trading to a larger segment and is also set to launch liquid ETH-backed tokens for users. In 2020 alone, CoinDCX received consecutive funding of $3 million in March, $2.5 million in May and then $13.5 million in December. The company has also launched its app CoinDCX Go, which is targeted at taking crypto trading to a larger segment by allowing people to start investing in the currency with as low as Rs 10.

Cashfree: The Bangalore-based Cashfree is a payment and banking technology company. As a complete payment platform, it has helped more than 50k businesses collect and send money with solutions such as an easy to integrate payment gateway that supports instant refunds. It at present processes over $12 billion worth of transactions on a yearly basis. As many businesses were forced to take the online route, Cashfree posted an upward growth during the lockdown period. The company has recently launched Global Payouts for instant cross-border payments and it plans on processing transactions worth $30 billion by the end of 2021.

MoneyTap: MoneyTap is an app-based personal credit line for consumers. The company has built an in-house AI-based decision engine, which helps it assess credit applications within minutes and has partnered with multiple players to enable easy repayment options for customers on platforms like PhonePe. Catering to the middle-class salaried professionals, the lowered minimum salary eligibility starts from Rs 20,000 per month and made the service available to consumers living in shared accommodation.

NiYo: Aiming to be a universal retail neo-bank for multiple segments of customers, Niyo Solutions is an internet first digital bank. It features NiYO Payroll Card, which is a zero-balance account with facilities like account opening, salary advance, and free accidental death insurance. The fintech has recently made a lot of business acquisitions and has also partnered with many stalwart banks like the ICICI Bank to issue prepaid cards. It will also be expanding its Niyo Money and create a full-stack wealth management platform this year.

Yap: The Chennai-based start-up Yap is an API Infrastructure company enabling businesses to roll out their payment products. Yap is already working with 15 banks, which includes YES Bank, DCB Bank, Equitas SFB, SBM Bank, among others, in rolling out their services over a bundle of APIs. The company provides its API platform to more than 300 fintech companies. It is also targeting to quadruple its volumes and revenues in 2021.

Recko: Recko is a Bengaluru-based enterprise fintech start-up that enables AI-powered reconciliation of digital transactions. The start-up has built a SaaS-based financial reconciliation product that, it said, keeps track of the complete transaction lifecycle and commercial contracts for organisations. It raised $6 million in Series A funding in April 2020, and expanded its market presence in Europe and South-East Asia last year. The company plans to enter the US markets this year.

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The year 2021 might be well known as a year of remarkable adaptation and transformation. Fintech has already disrupted the way people do businesses, invest, borrow, save and transfer funds through online and mobile services.

Collaboration: The Buzz Word

Fintech has already transformed the market. Among traditional financial organisations, over 82 per cent plan to increase collaboration with fintech companies in the next three to five years. And 88 per cent of incumbent financial institutions believe a part of their business will be lost to standalone fintech companies in the next five years. One of the factors that could propel the growth would be collaborations between this sector and the traditional banking sector. A partnership between traditional financial institutions and new age fintech platforms can bring the best of both the worlds and offer unique products to a larger number of people in India.

The fintech landscape will also see the emergence of innovations that will facilitate holistic financial services over a single mobile interface for the users across the world. The new-age fintech platforms are already offering consolidated fintech solutions to users, enabling them to carry out a range of operations such as spending, lending, investing, fund transfer, etc. Assisted e-commerce on existing B2B2C platforms is another feature that new-age fintech will provide to Indian users in the post-lockdown, post-pandemic future. A B2B2C ecommerce platform gives a company the chance to defend and grow market share directly with the end users, rather than depending on the distributors to market to them at the point of purchase. Here are some of the major fintech collaborations that are expected to gain momentum in 2021.

Mobile Banking

Mobile banking is a large part of the fintech industry. In the world of personal finance, consumers have increasingly demanded easy digital access to their bank accounts, especially on a mobile device.

Cryptocurrency & Blockchain

Running parallel to fintech is the birth of cryptocurrency and blockchain. Though both are different technologies considered outside the realm of fintech, there are complimentary applications in which all three can work together to deliver new kinds of financial services.

Neo-Banking

For years, digital-only banking or neo-banking had not been able to take off big time in India with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) restrictions. Initially, the RBI do not recognize the digital-only banking institutions. However, with the rising demand for digital banking, many internet-first banks in the country have started to gain the pace. In India, neo-banking is likely to see a huge shoot in 2021, attracting massive investments from local and global players.

Aggregators and Digital-first Insurtechs

With the insurance sector going through a massive change from traditional stand-alone insurance offerings to digital offerings, digital-first Insurtechs are set to see an astonishing rise in the year 2021 in India. Insurance players will take the front seat to collaborate with modern Insurtech players and many bigtechs will look to jump into the bandwagon to get a share of the rising pie.

Digital Payments

Fintech platforms will take a huge leap in digital payments demand in 2021 as well due to the pandemic fear. Payment fintech players will be seen experimenting with innovative digital payment solutions emphasized by the increasing regulatory support as well in the form of the payment sandboxes created by the RBI.

Preeti Verma
Preeti Verma
An alumna of IIMC, Preeti writes on global and domestic business, life cycle of a business and its stages. Her fourteen years of stint includes The Economic Times, Business Standard, Financial Express, Tehelka, Businessworld and Times Internet.

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