Fintech unicorn BharatPe has appointed former RBI deputy governor B P Kanungo and TARI founder Kaushik Dutta as independent directors as it looks to strengthen governance rigour and transparency in the preparation of a listing.
"Business is about to turn profitable in a few months and we are strengthening governance at the company by appointing independent directors," BharatPe CEO Suhail Sameer told PTI.
The firm, which currently has nine directors on its board, is looking to have at least one-third of directors as independent directors, he said.
Besides Sameer, co-founder Shashvat Nakrani is on the board as executive director. Investors have four nominees. The board is chaired by former SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar.
BharatPe, he said, would look to go public in the next 2-3 years' time. "Post-2024 (general) elections should be a good period," he said.
While Kanungo recently retired as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Dutta currently is the chairman and independent director at Zomato.
"The appointments are in line with the company's aim to build a world-class institution and being the torchbearer of corporate governance in the start-up world," he said.
BharatPe, which allows shop owners to make digital payments through QR codes, is now in 400 cities and has crossed USD 20 billion in annualized TPV.
Kanungo was the deputy governor of RBI from 2017-2021 and will work closely with the Board and support BharatPe in its plan of building a high-quality profitable business.
Dutta has extensive experience in corporate governance, including in his leadership roles at PwC, and his guidance will be key for the company as it prepares to go public in the next 2-3 years, he said.
"In line with BharatPe's commitment to having a Board with at least one-third independent directors, Kewal Handa stepped down from the Board but would continue to support the Board and the Management in an advisory capacity," a company statement said.
Speaking on these appointments, Rajnish Kumar said, "Earlier this year, we had put in place a robust governance framework and were in the process of identifying the right leaders who could join the Board in building BharatPe 2.0. The recent important appointments are driven by this very thought and we hope that the composition of Board, processes and compliances in place will lead to best governance practices in the industry."
Sameer said the diverse experience and deep understanding of the industry and the regulatory landscape of the two independent directors will be a great asset for BharatPe as it continues to build products that disrupt the market.
Kanungo, a seasoned banker, joined RBI in 1982 and during his stint of close to four decades looked after various departments of the central bank including information technology, payment and settlement systems, foreign exchange and internal debt management.
Dutta is the co-founder of Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI), an independent not-for-profit research think-tank that works in areas of corporate governance, public policy and sustainability. He is also on the Board of renowned Indian companies such as Zomato, Policy Bazaar, HCL Infosystems, Newgen Software, NDTV and Snapdeal.