India: BlackRock set to invest in Mobikwik, puts valuation at $1b

Visual from Mobikwik website

One Mobikwik Systems Pvt. Ltd, an Indian digital payments service provider, is set to raise funds from investors including BlackRock Inc. valuing the company at about $1 billion, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The company based near New Delhi is in advanced talks to raise more than $100 million from BlackRock and Indian state-run lenders including Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank, the person said asking not to be identified as the information is not public. The deal is not yet finalized and the terms may change, said the person.

If completed the transaction would make Mobikwik the second unicorn—or start-up worth more than $1 billion—from India’s fintech industry and indicate a revival of venture capital funding after valuation plunged in the past year. India’s first fintech unicorn One97 Communications Ltd, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, is also in talks with SoftBank Group Corp. to raise as much as $1.4 billion, people familiar with the matter said last week.

Founded by Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku in 2009, Mobikwik has backers including Sequoia Capital, American Express Co. and Tree Line Asia Master Fund, according to the company’s website. The financial services company with more than 55 million customers will be looking at distributing financial products including mutual funds and insurance products through the platform, the person said.

Spokesmen for Canara Bank, BlackRock, Bank of Baroda and Mobikwik did not immediately respond to emailed queries.

Mobikwik and One97’s PayTM unit grew rapidly in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unexpectedly withdrew higher-value bank notes from circulation, eradicating some four-fifths of the nation’s paper money in a so-called demonetisation, and asked Indians to use digital payment methods.

Also Read: BlackRock says India its biggest Asia opportunity as private credit expands

India Digest: Mobikwik eyes merger with FreeCharge; Kalaari agrees to Snapdeal sale