After marking its first acquisition with Bengaluru-based payments reconciliation startup Recko, global fintech giant Stripe has announced its first investment in India. Delhi NCR based Clear (formerly ClearTax) has announced that Stripe has backed it in its $75 Mn Series C round.
Led by Kora Capital, the round also saw participation from Alua Capital, Think Investments and some existing investors.
The SaaS fintech platform, primarily known for its online tax filing platform, will use the funds to accelerate its expansion into B2B credit and payments space, with expansion into international markets.
Founded in 2011 by Archit Gupta, Raja Ram Gupta, Srivatsan Chari, and Ankit Solanki, Clear provides a range of services to clients, including tax preparation, e-filing, accounting and investment planning solutions for individuals and businesses. It also offers individuals wealth management solutions.
The startup counts Y Combinator, Composite Capital, Elevation Capital, Sequoia Capital, and Founders Fund as its existing backers. To date, it has raised $140 Mn in equity, and its last round took place in October 2018. The current round values Clear somewhere between $700 Mn – $750 Mn.
The startup claims to have seen a 5x growth in the last 18 months, adding over 3K large enterprise customers. It also saw a surge in usage with 1 Mn+ small businesses on the platform. The Clear platform now claims to process over 10% of India’s business invoices with a GMV (gross merchandise value) of $400 Bn.
Clear aims to serve over 10K large enterprises and 10 Mn small businesses over the next couple of years.
India is currently one of the fastest-growing countries in the fintech segment compared to the rest of the world. Globally, the country has the highest fintech adoption rate at 87% against a global average of 64%.
Yet, Stripe — a global fintech leader which primarily offers payment processing software and financial APIs — which has teams in the Southeast Asian region, is yet to take hold a substantial share of the fintech market.
Despite the first two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc across most sectors, the innovations brought about in the fintech space have helped India maintain a cutting edge.
According to Inc42 Plus estimates, the fintech startup ecosystem saw 5.8x higher capital inflow to reach $4.6 Bn funding across 160 deals in January-August 2021 period. While the startup majors and BFSI companies in this sector like Paytm, Policybazaar, Pine Labs are headed for public listings, early-stage startups carved out significant funding share in specific categories — headed by digital payments.