Fintech unicorn Slice to merge with North East Small Finance Bank
Slice has been looking to pin a turnaround in its business post RBI diktat. Among the latest changes, it has terminated its partnership with SBM India to relaunch its own wallet ‘Slice Mini’, linked with UPI, besides offering co-branded RuPay Credit cards and loans via its NBFC and partners.
Fintech unicornhas received approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to merge with Guwahati-headquartered North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB), in which it had earlier held 5% stake.
“We see this as an opportunity to build a highly inclusive and responsible bank, offering an unparalleled experience, underpinned by robust risk management and strong governance,” said Rajan Bajaj, Founder & CEO, Slice, while announcing the deal.
In a statement, the company said the combined entity will help realise their shared goal of integrating technology offerings with grassroots financial inclusion efforts.
The Bengaluru based-prepaid card and payments fintech, Slice has been looking to pin a turnaround in its business post RBI diktat on non-banks to provide credit lines via prepaid instruments like wallets and cards.
Slice, which holds its own NBFC licence (for loans), PPI licence (for offering wallets, prepaid cards), and a TPAP licence (for offering UPI payments) has made some changes in the past 12 months.
Among the latest, the Tiger Global-backed firm terminated its partnership with SBM India to relaunch/power its own wallet ‘Slice Mini’, linked with UPI.
This is in addition to its latest partnership with RuPay, to offer co-branded credit card. It separately offers loans via ‘Slice Borrow’ through its NBFC and partnerships.
Slice had previously invested $3.42 million to acquire 5% stake in the bank. Rural focused-NESFB, which has 208 branches across the seven North East states along with West Bengal, will allow Slice to push its product offerings, including loans and co-branded credit cards, beyond its Tier 1 demography. The seven-year-old bank is a subsidiary of RGVN (NE) Microfinance and counts Pi Ventures, Bajaj Group and government-backed SIDBI Venture Capital among its backers.
“We’re grateful to the RBI for entrusting us with this immense responsibility. At Slice, our unyielding devotion to customers and robust risk management have set us apart. This approach allows us to serve a wider audience, including those often overlooked, while also building a deep emotional connection with our customers. We will further strengthen our risk underwriting through the use of technology and data, and always keep customers at the heart of our decisions,” said Bajaj.
Customers of both entities will have a broader range of products and omnichannel offerings. In the upcoming months, there will be an integration process with both entities working to ensure a smooth transition for all customers, the statement said.
“This alliance with Slice marks an exciting expansion of our reach and enhancement of our services. Dedicated to supporting the underserved, our collaboration is bolstered by slice’s innovative technology and a keen emphasis on customer experience. Meanwhile, we will continue to fortify the bank governance, with continuous improvements in compliance, risk management, and leadership,” added Rupali Kalita, MD & CEO, NESFB.
The fintech unicorn, which counts Tiger Global, Insight Partners, Blume Ventures, and EMVC among its backers, was last valued at about $1.5 billion.
The merger and shareholding details are not known yet, but it is expected that Slice will own a majority stake in the combined entity.
Edited by Megha Reddy