In the dynamic world of startups, a “Unicorn” is a privately held company valued at over $1 billion. Coined in 2013 by venture capitalist Aileen Lee, this term represents the pinnacle of entrepreneurial success. The year 2021 witnessed the entry of 37 startups into the prestigious Unicorn club, and among them were five fintech trailblazers: Bharat Pe, Cred, CoinDCX, Groww, and Zeta.
Bharat Pe: Revolutionizing Payment Acceptance
Bharat Pe emerged as a rising star in India’s merchant payment platform landscape. Founded in 2018 by Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani, this New Delhi-based fintech startup simplifies payment acceptance by offering a single QR code that accommodates payments from a wide array of apps, including Phone Pe, BHIM, Paytm, Google Pay, and Mobikwik. In just six months, Bharat Pe soared to unicorn status with a remarkable valuation of $2.85 billion after securing $370 million in funding through a Series E round led by Tiger Global.
Cred: Rewriting Credit Card Bill Payments
Serial entrepreneur Kunal Shah’s brainchild, Cred, launched in 2018, stands out as a platform that rewards users for timely credit card bill payments. Beyond this, Cred offers online commerce and brand discovery through its extensive portfolio of 1800 brands. Its foray into in-app e-commerce, Cred Pay, simplifies checkouts. Cred joined the Unicorn club in April 2021, securing $215 million in funding at a valuation of $2.2 billion during a funding round led by Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue Management LLP.
CoinDCX: India’s Premier Crypto Exchange
CoinDCX, founded by Sumit Gupta and Neeraj Khandelwal in April 2018, is India’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, designed with user-friendliness in mind. Offering trading in over 250 cryptocurrencies with up to 6X margin options, CoinDCX prioritizes security by insuring all funds with BitGo Insurance. In a historic move, CoinDCX became the first Indian cryptocurrency exchange to join the Unicorn club, boasting a valuation of $1.1 billion following a $90 million Series C funding round led by B Capital Group and backed by Coinbase Ventures, Polychain Capital, Block. one, and Jump Capital.
Groww: Simplifying Investment in Mutual Funds and Stocks
Lalit Kesher’s Bangalore-based startup, Groww, founded in 2016, empowers investors to explore mutual funds, stocks, IPOs, digital gold, and exchange-traded funds. In a Series D funding round led by Tiger Global Management, Groww secured $83 million, propelling its valuation to over $1 billion. It was the second fintech startup to enter the Unicorn club in 2021.
Zeta: Modern Banking Tech for All
Founded in 2015 by Bhavin Turakhia and Ram Guddipti, Zeta focuses on providing a cloud-native, API-first neo-banking platform that includes credit, debit cards, and prepaid products. Its mission is to enable legacy banks and emerging fintech institutions to launch modern retail and corporate fintech products. Zeta achieved Unicorn status in 2021 by raising $260 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II, reaching a valuation of $1.4 billion.
In the rapidly evolving fintech landscape of India, these startups are making financial services more accessible and efficient. As they continue to grow, they not only exemplify the spirit of entrepreneurship but also contribute significantly to reshaping the future of financial technology in India and beyond.