Setu, Sahil Kini’s new fintech venture, raises $3.5M in seed round capital

API infrastructure company Setu, which has raised $3.5 million in seed round capital, aims to use the funding to build an engineering team and robust technology infrastructure.

Bengaluru-based API infrastructure company Setu on Thursday said it had raised $3.5 million (approximately Rs 24.5 crore) as a part of seed round capital led by Lightspeed India Partners, with participation from Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund.

This funding will be used to build an engineering team and robust technology infrastructure, the company said in a statement.  

Setu partners with financial institutions, and looks to enable account creation and management, route payments across networks, while absorbing the complexity of regulations for businesses that want to offer financial services to their customers.

Sahil Kini, Co-founder of Setu, at YourStory's flagship event, Techsparks 2015.

It offers open APIs across four categories: bills, savings, credit, and payments. Any developer can access its sandbox to build an application and go through a rigorous developer certification program to go live. This makes it easy for all companies to plug-and-play financial services, rather than spend significant effort and time for one-off integrations.

The company is co-founded by fintech and payment veterans - Sahil Kini, who was a former Principal at early stage venture capital fund Aspada Investments, and Nikhil Kumar, who was earlier with iSPIRT Foundation, where he worked on building a vibrant developer ecosystem for Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN).

“Making every company a fintech company. That’s the goal,” said Sahil, on the investment.   

Explaining the problem statement, the company said over a billion people in India need access to sachetised products and services. However, owing to high distribution and operating costs, current financial institutions aren't able to deliver such products or services.

Sahil explained further,

“Digital finance has accelerated with the emergence of public platforms such as UPI. Except for payments, banking infrastructure hasn't upgraded at the same pace. For India's economy to achieve its full potential, a wholesale redesign and API access to financial products is critical.”

Setu is solving this problem by adopting a modular, API-driven, and partner-led distribution approach — powered by scalable technology architecture.

Nikhil Kumar, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist at Setu, said,

"Our goal is to build a world-class developer platform and make the latest fintech available to developers. We plan to design, build, and launch new products every year to shape the future of fintech in developing economies.”

Also read: How 27-year-old Nikhil Kumar and team built the BHIM app in just 3 weeks

The company’s ultimate mission is to advance accessibility and affordability of financial products for all by making it easy for businesses and developers to integrate with banking and other financial systems.

Commenting on the investment, Bejul Somaia, Managing Partner, Lightspeed India Partners, said,

“At Lightspeed, we’re lucky to work with courageous entrepreneurs who are willing to reimagine the future, and also have what it takes to build for large-scale markets. We are big believers in Setu’s strong developer friendly platform-first approach and are delighted to lead their first institutional financing round."

Saras Agarwal, Principal, Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund, added,

“We are really excited to partner with Sahil and Nikhil. Both of them bring in strong experience of building products and businesses at scale. Setu's unique product studio approach for creation of APIs affords it the flexibility to stitch together and offer multiple financial products at scale. These APIs would help in democratising the use of financial products and extend the benefit of new-age fintech to last-mile users. “

Recently, the company launched ‘Collect’, a product designed for merchants of all sizes to collecting recurring payments directly from customers’ preferred payment applications. This feature was much needed by the industry and was missing in the new version of the UPI payment stack.

Explaining its use, Nikhil said 'Collect' would enable developers to build solutions for EMIs, insurance premiums, mutual fund SIPs, housing societies, school fees, and a number of long-tail bill categories that are not serviced today.

Also read: These 11 fintech startups are working to make financial inclusion accessible and affordable for Bharat


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