The country has minted 102 unicorns so far, with the neobanking startup Open taking the total count of fintech unicorns to 21
India’s total fintech opportunity is set to rise to $1.3 Tn by 2025, according to Inc42’s State Of Indian Fintech Report, Q2 2022
Here is a comprehensive list of all of the fintech unicorns in the country
The term “unicorn” has become synonymous with success in the startup ecosystem across the world, and it is something that is not limited to India.
The country has minted 102 unicorns so far, with Purplle becoming the latest startup to hit unicorn valuation following its funding round just days ago. Just a day before Purplle, edtech startup PhysicsWallah (PW) became India’s 101st unicorn, the seventh edtech unicorn, and the first profitable edtech unicorn.
For fintech, however, the latest unicorn came in May 2022, with the neobanking startup Open becoming India’s 100th unicorn and the first neobank to attain the status. That took the total tally of fintech unicorns to 21, second only to ecommerce’s 24 unicorns.
The story of India’s fintech unicorns started way back in 2015 when Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s Paytm became India’s first fintech unicorn.
It took three more years for India’s fintech startup ecosystem to produce the next few unicorns, with PolicyBazaar, PhonePe and Billdesk turning unicorns in 2018. The next few years saw the floodgates open, with 2021 alone seeing 11 fintech unicorns.
According to Inc42’s State Of Indian Fintech Report, Q2 2022, India’s fintech ecosystem has 31 soonicorns, while also becoming a $1.3 Tn market opportunity by 2025. All the ingredients are in place for fintech to bake the next batch of unicorns.
What Do The Fintech Unicorns Do?
In terms of unicorns produced, payments is the biggest sub sector, with the likes of Paytm, PhonePe and BharatPe, among others, being payments-focused fintech unicorns.
Insurtech is emerging as one of the most promising sub sectors within fintech, having already produced three unicorns in the form of Acko, Digit Insurance and PolicyBazaar. The sub sector will become a $339 Bn market opportunity by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 57% during 2021-2025, according to Inc42 data.
Valuation Or Profitability: What Makes A Top Fintech Unicorn?
In terms of valuations alone, Razorpay tops the list, being valued at $7.5 Bn. The payments gateway unicorn is followed by the likes of CRED, which recently raised $140 Mn, taking its valuation to $6.4 Bn. PhonePe, Pine Labs and Paytm (listed) complete the list of five fintech unicorns valued at over $5 Bn.
India’s unicorns have frequently been criticised for being overvalued and not being profitable and having a way to profitability. Startups are businesses after all, and profitability should be one of the most important metrics when measuring a startup’s success.
When it comes to profitability, only a third of India’s 21 fintech unicorns are in the black.
Zerodha, the bootstrapped fintech unicorn, has become India’s most profitable fintech unicorn, reporting a profit of INR 1,122.30 Cr in FY21. The other profitable unicorns are Billdesk, MobiKwik, Oxyzo, Chargebee, Razorpay and groww.
Editor’s Note: The list below is not meant to be a ranking of any kind. We have listed the startups in alphabetical order.
List Of Indian Fintech Unicorns
Founded in 2016 by Varun Dua and Ruchi Deepak, Acko offers auto insurance and covers workers through partnerships with companies, including Zomato and Swiggy. It has diversified into various other insurance offerings including health insurance.
The insurtech startup became the second unicorn in its sub sector after the now-listed PolicyBazaar did the same in 2018. Acko entered the coveted unicorn club in 2021, along with 43 others, after it raised $255 Mn in a Series D funding round.
The Mumbai-based unicorn has raised around $428 Mn to date, with its last funding round coming last year. Acko counts Amazon, Accel Partners, Catamaran Ventures, Elevation Capital, RPS Ventures, and Binny Bansal, among others, as its investors. In FY21, it reported losses of INR 832.91 Cr.
Founded in 2018 by Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani, BharatPe launched India’s first UPI interoperable QR code. The startup focuses on merchant payments primarily, offering a single interface for existing UPI apps and other payment systems. Last year, BharatPe launched a BNPL card platform called PostPe.
The fintech startup entered the unicorn club after raising $370 Mn in a Series E equity round at a valuation of $2.85 Bn in 2021. According to company filings, it posted a loss of INR 1,619 Cr in FY21.
However, since the start of 2022, BharatPe has been at the centre of several controversies. Starting from cofounder Ashneer Grover’s audio clip in January, the Sequoia-backed unicorn has seen rough waters over the last few months, which has seen Grover and his wife ousted from the startup, along with many other key executives leaving the company, including founding member Satyam Nathani.
Founded in 2000 by MN Srinivasu, Ajay Kaushal, and Karthik Ganapathy, payments gateway startup BillDesk took almost two decades to achieve unicorn status, joining the unicorn club in 2018 after a funding round. BillDesk also counts itself among India’s profitable fintech unicorns, having clocked profits of INR 245.55 Cr in FY21.
The startup offers payment gateway solutions, competing with the likes of Razorpay, Citrus Pay, and others. In 2021, Prosus, the global internet group that runs payments solutions provider PayU, acquired BillDesk for $4.7 Bn, in the largest acquisition deal in India’s fintech space at the time.
Recently, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had asked sought more details about the deal, which PayU India produced in April 2022. The deal awaits the watchdog’s approval.
Founded in 2011 by Krish Subramanian, Rajaraman Santhanam, Saravanan KP and Thiyagarajan T, Chargebee is a revenue management platform that allows enterprises to automate revenue operations.
The fintech SaaS startup boasts a customer base of more than 4,000 subscription-based businesses. Its customer portfolio includes the likes of access management companies Okta, Freshworks, Calendly, and Study.com, among others. In FY21, it turned a profit of INR 11.5 Cr, joining the ranks of India’s fintech unicorns.
The Chennai-based startup became a unicorn after raising $125 Mn in 2021. Chargebee raised another $250 Mn in February 2022, tripling its valuation to $3.5 Bn. The startup is backed by marquee investors such as Accel, Insight Partners, Tiger Global Management, Sapphire Ventures, Steadview Capital and Sequoia Capital.
Founded in 2018 by Sumit Gupta and Neeraj Khandelwal, CoinDCX is a cryptocurrency exchange startup which allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies on its app and website.
It operates several other platforms apart from the crypto exchange:
- CoinDCX Go, a crypto investment app
- CoinDCX Pro, a professional trading platform
- DCX Learn, a crypto-centric investor education platform
CoinDCX became the first Indian crypto exchange to become a unicorn after it raised $90 Mn in August 2021, led by Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group as well Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Block.one and Jump Capital among others.
In April 2022, CoinDCX raised $135 Mn in a Series D funding round, becoming India’s most valued crypto startup. The startup’s valuation doubled to $2.15 Bn after the fundraise.
Founded in 2017 by Ashish Singhal, Govind Soni and Vimal Sagar Tiwari as a global cryptocurrency exchange aggregator, CoinSwitch launched its India-exclusive crypto exchange, CoinSwitch Kuber, in June 2020.
The company also simplifies crypto investments for users, allowing them to invest in multiple cryptocurrencies. The startup claims to have 10 Mn registered users, with an active user base of 7 Mn.
CoinSwitch Kuber turned unicorn in 2021, becoming only the second crypto unicorn after CoinDCX. It raised $260 Mn in a Series C funding round, at a valuation of $1.9 Bn to enter the unicorn club. It counts the likes of Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Coinbase Ventures, Paradigm, Ribbit Capital and Tiger Global Management among its key investors.
Founded in 2018 by Kunal Shah, CRED offers premium credit card users rewards and benefits for paying credit card bills. It has an invite-only platform which only accepts users with high credit scores. CRED has recently entered the P2P lending vertical last year, promising up to 9% interest to users.
CRED turned unicorn early in 2021 when it raised $215 Mn at a valuation of $2.2 Bn. The same year, the Bengaluru-based fintech unicorn raised $251 Mn, doubling its valuation to $4 Bn. Last week, CRED raised $140 Mn, taking its valuation to $6.4 Bn. This means that since April 2021, the fintech startup has seen its valuation triple.
It counts Coatue, DST Global, Falcon Edge Capital, Gemini Investments, Rainmatter Technology, Ribbit Capital, Sequoia Capital India and Tiger Global Management among its key investors. In FY21, CRED saw its losses reach INR 523.85 Cr.
Founded by Gaurav Kumar in 2017, CredAvenue is a lending platform that connects enterprises with lenders and investors. The startup offers multiple lending solutions such as CredLoan, CredCoLend and CredPool, among others.
CredAvenue entered the unicorn club in 2022, raising $137 Mn in a funding round at a valuation of $1.3 Bn. It has raised more than $226 Mn in funding so far from investors such as Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed, TVS Capital, Lightrock, CRED, Stride Ventures, Insight Partners, B Capital, Dragoneer and Lighrock.
The second Chennai-based fintech startup on this list, CredAvenue has been making acquisitions to strengthen its core lending business. It acquired an 82% stake in underwriting SaaS startup Corpository in April 2022. Earlier this year, CredAvenue acquired digital collections startup Spocto.
Founded in 2016 by Kamesh Goyal and Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Holdings, Digit Insurance is a Bengaluru-based insurtech startup. It offers customised policies on health, auto, travel, smartphones, and commercial properties such as stores and holiday homes.
Digit Insurance became the first unicorn of 2021 when it raised $18 Mn from existing investors at a valuation of $1.9 Bn. Since then, it has raised around $220 Mn in two funding rounds in 2021, doubling its valuation to $4 Bn.
The startup is now looking for a $500 Mn IPO, at a valuation of around $4.5-5 Bn. Digit Insurance plans to file its draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) by September and list it on exchanges by January 2023.
The insurtech unicorn counts A91 Partners, Faering Capital, Fairfax Financial Holdings and TVS Capital as its key investors. In FY22, Digit Insurance clocked in losses of INR 375.16 Cr.
Founded in 2017 by ex-Flipkart employees Lalit Keshre, Harsh Jain, Neeraj Singh, and Ishan Bansal, Groww offers direct plans for mutual funds and investing via mobile application and web platform. It also allows users to invest in stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, IPOs, and gold.
Talking about the inspiration behind starting Groww, Keshre recently said that he and other cofounders of the startup felt that financial products and services in India were more commission-centric than customer-centric. “We wanted to build a Flipkart for financial services,” Groww’s Lalit said during Inc42’s The Makers Summit 2022.
Groww raised $83 Mn in its Series D funding, led by Tiger Global, to enter the unicorn club. The round also saw participation from existing investors Sequoia India, Ribbit Capital, YC Continuity and Propel Venture Partners. Later in the year, Groww also raised $251 Mn in its Series E round, which valued the Indian startup at $3 Bn.
Founded in 2009 by the husband-wife duo of Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku, MobiKwik offers multiple financial services, including a digital wallet, credit, insurance, and gold loans, among others.
The fintech startup joined the billion-dollar startup club in October 2021, when some of its employees exercised their employee stock option plans (ESOPs). The fintech unicorn has raised $202 Mn in funding so far from key investors including Sequoia Capital India, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Hindustan Media Venture, and Bajaj Finserv Limited.
Last year, MobiKwik joined the IPO bandwagon after it filed its DRHP with the SEBI. The company had plans to raise INR 1,900 Cr IPO at a valuation of $1.5 Bn–$1.7 Bn. Seeing the ongoing market downtick, the fintech startup has deferred its public offer. After deferring its plans, MobiKwik is now looking to raise $100 Mn.
Open is a neobanking fintech startup founded in 2017 by Anish Achuthan, Ajeesh Achuthan, Mabel Chacko, and Deena Jacob. Open offers business banking, payments, and expense management services to SMBs across the country.
Open made headlines when it became India’s 100th unicorn in May 2022, after a $50 Mn funding round at unicorn valuation. It has raised $140 Mn so far from investors including Temasek, BEENEXT, 3one4 Capital, and Trifecta Capital Advisors.
The startup claims to have increased its customer base to 2.3 Mn in the past 12 months and plans to reach 5 Mn customers globally in the next year. Open processes over $24 Bn annually and claims to add 100K SMEs every month. In FY21, it reported losses of INR 66 Cr, according to data from Tofler.
Oxyzo, the financial arm of B2B ecommerce unicorn OfBusiness, was founded in 2016 by OfBusiness founders Asish Mohapatra and Ruchi Kalra. The startup provides cash flow and working capital financing to SMEs in the manufacturing and contracting sectors, which are looking to procure new materials.
It counts the likes of Alpha Wave, Tiger Global, Norwest Venture Partners, Matrix Partners, and Creation Investments among its investors, and has raised only one funding round so far. However, that round was the largest Series A in the country so far; the startup raised $200 Mn in the funding round, turning into a unicorn.
Oxyzo claims to have $350 Mn in assets under management (AUM), growing 100% on a year-on-year (YoY) basis. Oxyzo is currently serving 2,500+ SMEs across India, disbursing loans worth INR 4,000 Cr per annum.
Founded in 2010 by Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm is a Delhi NCR-based fintech unicorn which offers payments services, bank transfers, mobile recharges, bill payments, travel and accommodation bookings, and other financial services.
The startup has raised $2.5 Bn across multiple rounds so far, with the biggest round coming when Paytm raised $1.4 Bn from SoftBank in 2017, taking its valuation past the $10 Bn mark. According to its FY22 results, its net losses increased 41% YoY to reach INR 2,396.4 Cr, while its revenue from operations grew 77% to INR 4,974.2 Cr.
Paytm went public in a mega IPO in November 2021 that was worth INR 18,300 Cr and a valuation of $20 Bn. However, since then, its valuation has dipped to a quarter of that, owing to poor market performance over the last eight months. As of the market close on Friday (June 10), Paytm had a market cap of $4.99 Bn.
Founded in 2015 by Burzin Engineer, Rahul Chari, and Sameer Nigam, PhonePe is a fintech platform that provides multiple financial services such as bank transfers, UPI-based payments, mobile recharges and bill payments. The company has also diversified into providing digital insurance and other financial services.
PhonePe was acquired by ecommerce giant Flipkart in 2016. It remains India’s biggest UPI-based payments app in terms of transaction value and transaction count. In May 2022, the fintech unicorn recorded INR 5.11 Lakh Cr in transaction value. This means that in May 2022, 49.9% of all UPI transactions happened via PhonePe.
PhonePe achieved unicorn status in 2018, merely three years after its incorporation, and has raised upwards of $1 Bn in funding since 2016. Most recently, PhonePe’s Singapore-based parent company received $297 Mn in funding from Flipkart.
Founded in 1998 by Lokvir Kapoor, Tarun Upadhyay and Rajul Garg, Pine Labs is a fintech startup that enables businesses to accept online and offline digital retail transactions via its point of sale (PoS) devices and terminals such as card swiping machines, billing desks and so on. Currently, Amrish Rau leads the fintech startup as the CEO since March 2020.
The startup claims that it has onboarded over 140K merchants, and 350K PoS terminals across 3,700 cities and towns in India and Malaysia. The fintech unicorn also claims to process transactions worth $30 Bn per year. Right now, the fintech startup is considering a $1 Bn IPO.
Pine Labs attained a unicorn valuation in 2020, and since then, it has raised $200 Mn across two funding rounds in 2022 alone, taking its valuation to $5 Bn. In all, the fintech startup has raised more than $1.4 Bn from investors such as Flipkart, Investco, Lone Pine Capital, Mastercard, PayPal Ventures, Sequoia, Temasek Holdings, and Alpha Wave Ventures.
Founded in 2008 by Yashish Dahiya, Avaneesh Nirjar, and Alok Bansal, Policybazaar aggregates insurance policies from a range of providers for use-cases, including life insurance, automobile insurance, health insurance and more.
Policybazaar became a unicorn in 2018 when it raised $200 Mn from SoftBank and InfoEdge, a decade after its incorporation. Policybazaar was listed on the stock exchanges in 2021, with an INR 6,017 Cr IPO. Due to poor performance on the stock market, the company’s valuation has dropped to $3.3 Bn, almost half of its pre-IPO valuation of well over $6 Bn.
Recently, its stock price crashed by more than 13% after news broke that CEO Yashish Dahiya was looking to offload shares. The fintech unicorn reported a 454% YoY increase in its net loss in FY22, reaching INR 832.91 Cr, while its revenue from operations increased 60% YoY to INR 1,424.89 Cr.
Founded in 2014 by Harshil Mathur and Shashank Kumar, Razorpay is a Bengaluru-based B2B fintech startup that provides APIs for payment gateways to other companies. It started as a payments gateway but has now expanded to provide services such as SME payroll management, banking, lending, and payments, among others. The fintech unicorn has also made five acquisitions so far.
Razorpay claims that it powers payments for 34 of the 42 startups that turned unicorns in 2021. It achieved $60 Bn TPV (Total Payment Volume) as of early December 2021 and plans to achieve $90 Bn TPV by the end of 2022. The startup managed to turn profitable in FY21, having made a standalone profit of INR 7 Cr.
It hit unicorn valuation in 2020 after raising $100 Mn from existing investors and GIC. Since then, it has raised a total of $535 Mn in two funding rounds, taking its valuation to $7.5 Bn. Razorpay is backed by marquee investors such as Sequoia and Tiger Global, along with MasterCard and Salesforce.
Founded in 2016 by Rajan Bajaj, slice is a fintech startup that offers payment cards and credit cards to users new to credit cards, between the ages of 18 and 24 years. The startup issues credit cards and payment cards to this segment in partnership with Visa and SBM Bank, while also offering rewards and discounts on payments.
The startup provides a credit line starting from INR 10,000 and going up to INR 10 Lakh. slice claims that it has a registered user base of over 5 Mn. slice ships over 200K credit cards each month. In FY21, the fintech startup reported losses of INR 8.9 Cr.
The fintech startup hit unicorn valuation in 2021 when it raised $220 Mn in its Series B round. It has eight key investors, including Das Capital, Insight Partners, Pegasus Wings Group, and Tiger Global. This month, slice raised another $55 Mn, taking its valuation to $1.8 Bn.
Founded by brothers Nithin Kamath and Nikhil Kamath in 2010, Zerodha offers stockbroking services. The bootstrapped startup claims to have over a million active clients who trade and invest through the platform.
The company continues to be bootstrapped, never having raised any venture capital. Zerodha operates completely on the money it brings in, and it can afford to do so, being the country’s most profitable fintech startup. Zerodha clocked a total revenue worth INR 2,729.6 Cr in FY21, against expenses of INR 1,260.1 Cr during the same time.
The startup offers four major products, including its trading platform Kite, along with a related API solution Kite Connect, among others.
Founded in 2015 by Bhavin Turakhia and Ramki Gaddipati, Zeta offers a neobanking platform and issues credit and debit cards, along with other prepaid products. It also provides digitised payment solutions to enterprises.
The Bengaluru-based fintech counts the likes of Axis Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Yes Bank, Induslnd Bank, and HDFC Bank among eight issuers and 30 total customers. In total, Zeta says that it has issued more than 10 Mn cards.
Zeta entered the unicorn club in 2021, having raised $250 Mn in its Series C funding round. The fintech startup counts Sodexo, SoftBank and MasterCard among its key investors, having raised $340 Mn in total funding so far.