Tatas plans UPI game; Snap to port India playbook elsewhere

Tata Group, which is gearing up to launch its “super app” next month, is looking to enter the UPI space with an app that will rival Google Pay, PhonePe and Paytm. Amazon India also has its own UPI service for payments and cashback, which Tatas might seek to emulate for their super app.

Also in this letter:

Snap to Port India Localization Playbook Elsewhere, Says CEO
■ Zomato and Blinkit are likely to merge in a share swap
■ Licious raises $150M and other deals closed

Tatas joins the UPI club with its own app

The best digital payment apps such as Google Pay, PhonePe, Amazon Pay and Paytm may soon have a new competitor: the century-old Tata group.

Driving the news: The company requested authorization from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to begin work on the unified payment interface (UPI) as a third party payment service provider offering digital payment services, we have indicated sources.

Tata Digital is in talks with ICICI Bank to power its UPI infrastructure, they said, and has held talks with another top private sector lender as an additional banking partner.

Why now? The news comes as Tata Digital has finalized plans to launch its highly anticipated super app Tata Neu during the Indian Premier League next month, as we reported on March 15.

Entering the UPI space is a natural extension of the Tata Group’s ambitious e-commerce game and could be used to improve the shopping experience on Tata Neu. Amazon India also has its own UPI service which offers buyers cashback and other incentives.

ET had reported in January that Tata Digital created a new financial market entity Tata Fintech to offer more financial products, including retail payment gateway.

Non-banks dominate UPI: Non-bank platforms such as PhonePe and Google Pay must partner with banks to gain access to the UPI platform. Due to their technology-driven approach, their apps performed better on UPI than those of banks.

PhonePe and GooglePay account for the lion’s share of UPI transactions each month. Amazon Pay, Paytm and WhatsApp Pay, owned by Facebook, are the other important applications. In February, there were 4.52 billion UPI transactions in total, according to NPCI data.

Snap will port its localization manual elsewhere to India, says CEO


Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc.

Snap Inc, the parent company of short-lived messaging app Snapchat, has passed 100 million monthly users in India and wants to use this localization playbook in other geographies, said Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of the company. based in Los Angeles in an interview during The ET Global Business Summit.

Spiegel said the social media giant, which has established a local team here, may consider strategic investments even as it continues to forge partnerships to push its augmented reality efforts.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

You recently mentioned India in your earnings call that your expansion efforts here continue to be successful and you are using learnings for new geographies. Could you tell us more about this?

Indian culture lends itself to visual communication. It’s hard to capture that feeling, that emotion of watching all those Diwali lanterns soar across the sky in words. It’s almost unimaginable. And what’s been so exciting to see is how Snapchat has been able to uniquely capture the visual richness of India and really enable a new way of communicating between people. We have also built a local team and are working on creating locally relevant content and augmented reality experiences.

What other geographies did you mention?

We now have very large businesses in Europe and the Middle East… More and more, we are starting to think about expanding our business into Southeast Asia and Africa. But what’s really exciting about India is that it’s one of the first places where we made a really big bet when we were a startup. It is very expensive to build a new team in a totally new country and invest in localized content. You don’t know how it will turn out. And so, for us, India has been a really great place to learn how to grow our business by creating locally relevant experiences.

Read the full interview here.

Airbnb India business rebounds: Meanwhile, Airbnb co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nate Blecharczyk told us in an interview that its business in India is almost back to pre-pandemic levels.


Nate Blecharczyk, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Airbnb

On whether Airbnb will invest more in India, he said, “We are going to open a technology hub in Bangalore and hope to hire over 100 employees in the near future. We have always wanted to bring our culture of innovation to the Bengaluru ecosystem.”

Zomato and Blinkit set to merge in share swap deal


Zomato has been in talks to acquire Blinkit (formerly Grofers) in a stock swap, multiple sources tell us. It comes after Zomato invested $100 million in the Gurgaon-based fast-trading startup last year, recouping around 10% in the business.

The merger has been speculated as a possible outcome ever since Zomato invested in Blinkit. In fact, ET had reported in 2020 that the two companies had reached an agreement to reunite.

Details: While the outlines of the deal are being finalized, it will likely be a 10:1 ratio that is expected to value Blinkit at around $700-800 million based on Zomato’s current market cap. said people informed about it. That’s lower than Blinkit’s previous valuation of just over $1 billion.

Table of SoftBank caps on Zomatos: The share swap deal would see Blinkit’s lead investor, SoftBank Vision Fund, get a 4-5% stake in Zomato, alongside existing investors such as Tiger Global. SoftBank took a major bet on Zomato rival Swiggy last year with a $450 million investment.

There’s more: As part of its exchange filings on Tuesday, Zomato also said it would provide a loan of up to $150 million to Grofers India Private Limited, Blinkit’s Indian entity. The loan interest rate will be charged at 12% per annum, with a maximum term of one year.

The food-tech major said it would also acquire a 16.66% stake in

Licious Raises $150M in Funding Led by Amansa Capital


Direct-to-consumer fresh meat and seafood brand Licious has raised $150 million from investors led by Singapore-based Amansa Capital, as well as Kotak PE and Axis Growth Avenues AIF-I, a senior official said of the society.

The company will use the funding to fuel its inorganic growth ambitions, expand globally, and add more Tier II and Tier III cities to its network, Vivek Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Licious told us. The company’s founders continue to hold the largest stake in the company, with the rest held by investors such as Temasek.

Previous rounds: This funding round comes six months after the company raised $52 million led by the IIFL’s Late Stage Tech Fund and Avendus, launching it into the unicorn club. As of July 2021, it had raised $192 million in a round led by Temasek and Multiples Alternatives.


Other concluded deals


■ Jewelry retailer Bluestone said it raised more than $30 million in funding at a $410 million valuation from Hero Enterprises. The company is raising funds almost after six years as it transitions from an online-only business model to an omnichannel business model.

■ Brand aggregator and roll-up commerce company UpScalio has raised $15 million in a funding round led by Gulf Islamic Investments (GII), with participation from a consortium of lenders including Northern Arc and Unity Bank. UpScalio marks GII’s sixth investment from its second Indian growth fund, launched in 2021.

■ Employee engagement platform inFeedo said it raised $12 million in a funding round led by Jungle Ventures, with participation from Tiger Global and existing investors such as Bling Capital. This brings the total capital raised by the company to $16 million.

Paytm says it disbursed more than four million loans in January and February


One97 Communications Ltd. (OCL), owner of Paytm, said it disbursed more than four million loans in January and February. The total value of these loans stood at Rs 2,095 crore, he said in an exchange filing.

The company also said it doubled the total payment value of transactions processed by its merchants to Rs 1.65 lakh crore (or $22.2 billion) in the first two months of the current quarter, compared to the same period last year.

By the end of February 2022, Paytm had a total of 2.6 million devices deployed in the field for digital payments, he said. This includes its point-of-sale devices and soundox offering.

The stock continues to fall: The news comes as OCL’s share price continues to decline. It fell 12.2% on Tuesday to end the day at Rs 592.4, after losing more than 12% on Monday. The company has lost more than 20% of its value in the past two days and its market capitalization is now below Rs 40,000 crore.

Last Friday, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banned SoftBank-backed Paytm Payments Bank from adding new customers and asked it to appoint a company to audit its IT systems on “certain significant oversight concerns”.

Other Top Stories by our journalists


Capgemini to hire more than 60,000 employees in India in 2022: French technology company Capgemini will consider hiring around 60,000 new employees in India this year – as in 2021 – as demand for digital solutions increases, said its CEO Ashwin Yardi. “We are approximately 355,000 employees globally and half of them are in India, and we continue to see good headcount growth,” Yardi told ET.

Samsung invests Rs 1,588 crore in Tamil Nadu: Samsung Electronics on Tuesday said it has invested Rs 1,588 crore to set up a new compressor manufacturing facility spread over 22 acres in Sriperumbudur, on the outskirts of Chennal. It will have the capacity to produce eight million compressor units per year and will be expanded in the future.

Global Choices We Read

■ White House informs TikTok stars about war in Ukraine (The Washington Post)
UK chipmaker Arm to cut up to 1,000 jobs after $40bn sale collapses (The Guardian)
■ Virtual podcast events bring in six-figure revenue (The edge)

Today’s ETtech Morning Dispatch was hosted by Zaheer Merchant in Mumbai and Judy Franko in New Delhi. Graphics and illustrations by Rahul Awasthi.

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