High risk, high reward: Slice’s bet in millennial credit space

High risk, high reward: Slice’s bet in millennial credit space

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Pratik Bhakta

183 reads
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Pratik Bhakta

183 reads

Newly minted unicorn is challenging banks by signing up young consumers who want a credit card with more transparency and flexible repayment options. It’s also scaling up an in-house NBFC. The strategy puts it on a growth speedway, but can it avoid potential asset-quality pitfalls?

December 01, 2021

11 MINS READ

Slice founder Rajan Bajaj attempted a buy now, pay later business targeting students in 2016, five years before interest in the space soared and every fintech entrepreneur put the format at the top of their wish list.

But he realised that Indian merchants might not fork up the type of commissions that global BNPL pioneers Affirm and Afterpay charge and revenue could be a challenge. Still, he wanted to create a solution for consumers who found loans and bank-issued credit cards hard to obtain or unsuitable for their purchase. 

In 2019, Bajaj pivoted, rebranding his company from SlicePay to Slice, and unveiled an app-based card aimed at fresh graduates and young professionals. The product has all the characteristics of a credit card, but at the core, it’s a prepaid instrument backed by a credit line. RBI does not allow non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) to issue cards, so Slice found this workaround.

The strategy worked, with the fintech emerging as a challenger card brand in the country. Today, it issues over 6,000 cards a day and is nearing an overall tally of 1 million, numbers that high-street lenders such as HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and SBI will be tracking closely. 

Slice’s product differentiation (the card is issued virtually and in a physical form) and momentum have impressed investors. Recently, it announced raising $220 million at a valuation of over $1 billion in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global and Insight Partners. 

There is a buzz that it may pick up $20-30 million more in this round from some existing investors. But the talks are reportedly still underway. 

The fresh funds will help Slice step up the lending game through its in-house NBFC, Quadrillion Capital, pursue overall expansion and add more hands to its data science and analytics teams.

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