Even as the pace of funding has slowed down in the past few months, the market continues to churn out unicorns in an unprecedented manner.
We have seen a record number of unicorns in the year — the count is now at 26 with the entry of Bengaluru-based gig economy marketplace Apna and Mobile Premier League (MPL) this week. Further, CoinSwitch Kuber is reportedly on the verge of becoming a unicorn too, which would make it the second Indian crypto startup to enter the club.
Speaking of crypto, the first day of The Crypto Summit by Inc42 Plus saw some major announcements, insights and discussions on the hottest fintech sector this year.
Before we dive into that, here are some stories that grabbed our attention in the past week.
- BYJU’S continued its acquisition spree with coding startup Tynker for $200 Mn as it looks to make deeper inroads into the US market. This is the company’s second US-based acquisition this year after it acquired Epic for $500 Mn.
- Zomato was in the news for all the wrong reasons this past week. Its shares fell after cofounder Gaurav Gupta exited the company, while the company announced that it is pulling the plug on its grocery delivery and nutraceutical verticals as well as its restaurant loyalty programme for consumers.
The Big Debate In Crypto: How Will Regulations Play Out?
There’s no denying or running away from the crypto boom, but if there’s one thing that alarms crypto investors, startups and VCs, it is the uncertainty around regulations.
At least that much is clear after the first day of The Crypto Summit, which saw former finance ministry secretary Subhash Chandra Garg say, “The way cryptocurrencies have evolved in value, the world may not accept their use as currency. This has led to the evolution of stable coins. Regulated stable coins like CBDC might be the future of crypto as far as, use as a currency goes, while non-fiat currencies like Bitcoin etc will become assets,” Garg told Siddarth Pai, founding partner at 3one4Capital.
He added that currently, there is no clarity on which way the government is leaning, but also said that the various applications of blockchain and crypto might necessitate techno-legal policymaking, where India has seen progress when it comes to financial data or payments.
“While there are concerns around cryptocurrencies, building trust is the most important commodity when it comes to crypto. Trust is the biggest source of value attached to any currency,” Garg emphasised.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is set to launch its first digital currency trial programme by December. As demand grows for regulating cryptocurrencies in India, Garg, emphasised that regulations in crypto can only come after deliberating over all the forms of crypto assets around. “A lot is still to be understood clearly, but in principle, the nature of the crypto asset will determine how the regulations will be shaped,” Garg added.
But while the government may be targeting illicit transactions and money laundering with any potential stringent regulations for crypto assets and currencies, it also needs to understand that blockchain-based technology is not only used for crypto but other real economy products. Besides this, financial data security and user privacy will need to be addressed as well, even in a decentralised future.
Catch the full discussion here.
Indian Startup Funding Counter
Over $549 Mn was raised across 38 deals in the past week as startup funding picked up pace after slowing down towards the end of August. IPO-Bound Pine Labs raised $100 Mn from Invesco Fund, while PharmEasy invested INR 307 Cr in Aknamed in a majority stake acquisition, its second major deal this year after Thyrocare.
Here’s a look at the funding activity for 2021 after last week:
Indian Startups’ IPO Corner
Tech startups continue to make moves to prepare for their public offerings in the near future. While payments giant Pine Labs has hired US-based investment bankers for its IPO where it is targeting a valuation of $6 Bn, IPO-Bound Paytm has expanded its ESOP pool by 2.5 times.
But the week gone by brought contrasting fortunes for the startups that listed publicly this year. EaseMyTrip’s market cap crossed $1 Bn, but Zomato crashed to a new low this week. On the other hand, Nazara saw a big bump after its subsidiary NODWIN Gaming acquired the gaming and adjacent IP business of OML Entertainment for INR 73 Cr.
In Spotlight: India’s Booming Crypto Economy
Day one of The Crypto Summit by Inc42 Plus saw founders and key leaders from companies such as CoinSwitch Kuber, Solana as well as investors, policymakers and other stakeholders dive into the hottest topics in the crypto industry.
From how crypto regulations can be shaped to the role of the crypto stack in the Indian fintech industry and how crypto startups can capitalise on the current boom to target a base of 1 Bn users, we saw a range of discussions and debates on it all.
From The Unicorns’ Corner
India’s unicorn club has seen many firsts this year and Bengaluru-based Apna became India’s first gig economy marketplace to cross the milestone while Mobile Premier League (MPL) became the second gaming unicorn in India.
Finally, here’s a look at the stories that are must-reads, in case you missed them.
- The latest edition of The Outline By Inc42 Plus dived into the murky waters of overseas direct investments in India. The new rules being proposed by the RBI might just upset the Indian startup funding apple cart.
- The food delivery segment has done well during the Covid crisis, but Zomato and Swiggy delivery workers say that their wages have dropped drastically. Will they get more protection from these delivery giants?
- Manufacturing services unicorn Zetwerk is confident of achieving 3X growth in 2021, but not at the expense of profitability. CEO Amrit Acharya explains how.
- IPO-bound Policybazaar is a $6 Bn juggernaut and made a strategic reset over the past year, which helped it improve unit economics. Now, it is making a high-stake entry into omnichannel selling. Will it succeed?
- Fintech giant PayU acquired BillDesk in one of the largest fintech deals in India. PayU CEO Anirban Mukherjee said the companies expect to create a fintech ecosystem handling 4 Bn transactions annually.
- RBI’s regulatory sandbox has selected eight startups for its second cohort which was based around cross-border payments and lending. A third cohort is expected later this year.
That’s all for this week, folks.