Shashvat Nakrani, the 23-year-old co-founder of payments app BharatPe, is the youngest person to make it to the prestigious IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List. In fact, he is among 13 self-made billionaires born in the 1990s who joined the Rs 1,000+ crore club this year. Excerpts from an interview with S.K. Singh:
What made you want to work on BharatPe?
During my college days, I launched a startup called bookmyhaircut.com. The problems I faced then gave me the idea of BharatPe. I launched BharatPe with the objective of providing a payment acceptance product that had no charges for merchants. The focus was clear: to establish ourselves as a true partner for the SMEs of “Bharat”.
What problems did you face?
Digital payment was not a well-known concept for small merchants and kirana store owners. There was a need to sell the concept and gain the merchant community’s trust. With our innovative UPI QR—industry’s first interoperable QR with zero transaction fees—we could get a foot in the door and gain merchants’ interest. Also, as a new and unknown brand, awareness about us was low and we had to face rejections. It took us time to build brand equity. We also had to face the heat from larger companies, with many serving us legal notices. On October 15, 2018, three months after its launch, BharatPe hit a mark of 10 lakh transactions/day. It was the biggest day for all of us. Today we are the fastest growing fintech startup in the country.
Did your family support you?
My father runs an education institute in Bhavnagar, Gujarat. A self-made educator, he had to struggle a lot in the early years of his career. When I started on my own, my family supported my decision. However, they had inhibitions as I dropped out of IIT to become an entrepreneur. Now that I have completed my BTech, they are happy.
When you were in school, which career did you wish to pursue?
I did my schooling at my father’s institute. I was clear that I wanted to create my own business and my parents always supported me in my career choice.
What was BharatPe’s growth trajectory during the pandemic?
We have witnessed exponential growth across business lines over the past one-and-half years. In the last fiscal, our payments grew five times and the lending vertical grew 10 times. The pandemic accelerated the demand for digital payments with the change in customer behaviour. With more customers preferring to pay digitally, there was an exponential rise in adoption and use of digital payment modes. Today, we have an annualised transaction processing value (TPV) of over $11 bn in payments. Also, we are the No. 3 private POS player in the country clocking an annualised TPV of $2.5 bn. We also witnessed a huge uptake in digital lending vertical. With traditional lenders and NBFCs shying away from giving out loans to small merchants and kirana store owners, BharatPe rose to the occasion and gave business loans to them. Today, we are the largest B2B Fintech lender in the country, facilitating disbursals of over Rs 300 crore every month.
BharatPe has recently forayed into consumer lending space with the launch of the 12% club. The P2P offering will allow individual investors to invest and earn up to 12% as well as borrow at 12% interest through the ‘12% Club’ app. We have partnered with RBI-approved NBFCs to offer this product to consumers.
Earlier this month, we launched our second consumer lending product called postpe, which marks our entry into the Buy Now Pay Later category. Customers can download the postpe app and avail interest-free credit limit of up to Rs 10 lakh. They can use postpe to pay universally—across QR, card and online.