Tiger Global and Ribbit invest another $100 million in PhonePe

PhonePe has raised another $100 million as part of an ongoing round, a deliberation that has now helped it pull $450 million in recent weeks despite the market downturn, as the Indian fintech giant bulks up its war chest following the recent separation from the parent firm Flipkart.

Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global and TVS Capital pumped the new $100 million into the startup. The ongoing round values the Bengaluru-headquartered PhonePe at a pre-money valuation of $12 billion. Walmart-backed PhonePe has said previously that it plans to raise up to $1 billion as part of the ongoing financing round.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with PhonePe as they lead the digital payments sector in India, a market we believe is still in the early stages with significant growth potential ahead,” said Scott Shleifer, a partner at Tiger Global, in a statement.

At a $12 billion valuation, PhonePe is India’s most valuable fintech startup. It competes with Google Pay and Paytm. Paytm, which expects to reach $1 billion revenue by March this year, is currently valued at under $5 billion.

PhonePe, to be sure, is the clear leader in the mobile payments market on UPI, a network built by a coalition of retail banks in India. UPI has become the most popular way Indians transact online, and processes more than 8 billion transactions a month. Seven-year-old PhonePe commands about 50% of all these transactions.

A concern for PhonePe’s growth was the Indian regulator enforcing a check on the market cap on each participating player, but its recent extension to the deadline until 2025 has paved the way for the startup for another two years of fast growth. (Google’s GPay and PhonePe currently process more than 80% of all UPI transactions.)

PhonePe is also slowly becoming a distribution engine, leveraging the large 300 million user base to cross-sell products such as insurance. Industry experts reckon that PhonePe’s end game might be to become a bank, which they say justifies the lofty valuation. PhonePe clocked a revenue of $234.3 million in the first nine months of 2022.

The firm projects a revenue of $325 million for the calendar year 2022 and $504 million for 2023, according to a valuation report prepared by the auditing firm KPMG and filed by PhonePe last month.

The startup doesn’t expect to turn EBIDTA positive, a key profitability metric, until calendar year 2025, KMPG wrote in its valuation report. PhonePe’s financials and metrics from the valuation report have not been previously reported.

“We are privileged to have a great set of leading global investors, both existing and new, who believe in our mission of building massive technology platforms to bring at-scale financial and digital inclusion in India,” said Sameer Nigam, co-founder and chief executive of PhonePe, in a statement.