Putting behind the controversy around its co-founder Ashneer Grover, fintech start-up BharatPe has posted record growth in the fiscal year ended March 31 and is on track to break even and list on stock exchanges in the next 18-24 months, its CEO Suhail Sameer said.

In an interview with PTI, he said while the board will take a call on what to do with the money allegedly defrauded by Grover, his priority is the firm's employees so that they stay focused and teams remain stable.

"Second focus is to keep firing on the business front. From a long term point of view, that's all that will matter for me, for my teams. I am just doubling down on these things," he said. And that focus has paid off well.

"Business in the last quarter (January-March) is up 20 per cent on every metric — transactions, TPV, loans facilitated, and revenue. And this is despite January being (hit by) Covid and everything was slowing a bit. Delhi was shut, many cities had weekend curfews," he said.

BharatPe, which allows shop owners to make digital payments through QR codes, is now in 225 cities (more than 2x growth from last fiscal) and has over 8 million merchants onboard (up from 5 million in FY21 that ended on March 31, 2021).

"Transaction value (TPV) has grown 2.5x year-on-year to $16 billion in 2021-22 (April 2021 to March 2022). POS (point of sale) business is also 2x up from last year with over 1.25 lakh POS machines deployed. We do $4 billion transactions on it, as of March," he said.

Increasing number of merchants

Number of merchants who availed loans has increased to 3 lakh from 1.6 lakh a year back. "How much loan facilitated — exactly 3x. We facilitated $650 million of loans last year (FY22)," he said. PostPe, the buy-now-pay-later product the company launched five months back, is doing a million transactions a month and $50 million a month TPV.

"Overall from the company point of view, revenue has grown nearly four times y-o-y. And we will exit the year at a $110 million annualised run rate as compared to $31-32 million (last year)," he said. "From $6 million, we have become $110 million in 18-20 months."

In the current fiscal year, BharatPe is looking at an 85 per cent jump in TVP to $30 billion, scaling up loans facilitated to $2 billion.

"Last 2-3 years were sort of network expansion, next 2-3 years we will continue to grow the network but sort of double down on lending. PostPe will be scaled up 4x — from $50 million TPV to $200 million TPV. Seems like a big number (but) I am confident we will get there."

Revenue in the current fiscal is seen growing to $300 million, and merchant base increasing to 12 million. "Currently, we facilitate loans worth around ₹800 crore a month. Want to take that to ₹2,050 crore a month by March 2023," he said.

BharatPe is looking to expand to 300 cities by end of FY23 and take its gold loan offering to 20 cities by the end of 2022.

BharatPe last month stripped Grover of all titles and positions after a third-party audit alleged grave governance lapses under him. But that has not stopped the bickering between him and the company management, including the CEO.

Sameer said the board will take a call on what to do with the audit report that has been received. "I am focused on business." He further said the company is looking at an initial public offering (IPO) in 18-24 months, by when the TPV would have grown to $40-45 billion, with revenue at $500 million. "Merchant business would become profitable in 12-15 months."

IPO preparation

In preparation for the IPO, BharatPe will look for deeper products. "We initially used to do unsecured loans with our NBFC partners, then we launched secured loans, gold a few months back, and now we want to launch auto loans at some point of time," he said, adding the firm would look to enable merchants to do customer acquisition.

"Thanks to the commitment and hard work by our world class team, BharatPe registered the strongest quarter in its history. We have registered 4x growth in our overall revenue over the same period last year. On a sequential quarter-on-quarter basis, the growth has been 30 per cent, despite the third wave of Covid-19.

"Comparing month-on-month, all our metrics have grown at the fastest pace — merchant total payments value or TPV (17 per cent), consumer TPV (39 per cent), loans facilitated (31 per cent), and revenue (21 per cent) in March 2022 over February 2022," he pointed out.

Going forward, "we are tracking well to break even on our merchant business and further strengthen our consumer business," he said. Asked about fundraising, he said BharatPe has $400 million in the bank and has a monthly burn of $4 million, so it does not need to raise capital.