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BharatPe raises Rs 139 crore in debt from Alteria Capital, ICICI Bank

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NEW DELHI: Fintech company BharatPe on Sunday said it has raised Rs 139 crore (about USD 20 million) in debt from venture debt firm Alteria Capital and ICICI Bank that will be used to strengthen its lending business and provide credit to merchants.

Founded by Ashneer Grover and Shashvat Nakrani in 2018, BharatPe offers merchants a single interface for all UPI apps like Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM, Mobikwik, Freecharge and others. It also facilitates loan facility for its merchant partners.

Speaking to PTI, BharatPe co-founder and CEO Ashneer Grover said Rs 90 crore in debt came from Alteria Capital, while the remaining Rs 49 crore was from ICICI Bank.

“We have raised funds from ICICI Bank at a competitive interest rate of less than 9 per cent. We are aggressively building our lending vertical and our loan book is currently at Rs 400 crore.

“With this infusion, we can double down on our efforts and we expect the loan book to grow to Rs 700-750 crore by the end of March 2021,” he added.

Grover said BharatPe had set a target of disbursing Rs 1,000 crore of loans in 2020-21, of which Rs 800 crore has already been disbursed.

“The latest tranche of debt raised will help further build the lending business and enable credit for millions of businesses, across the length and breadth of India,” Grover said.

Last week, BharatPe raised Rs 60 crore in debt from Innoven Capital. With this, BharatPe has raised a total of Rs 199 crore (USD 28 million) in debt till date. It had said it plans to raise over Rs 5,000 crore in debt funding in the next two years to build its lending business.

“We have committed ourselves to provide USD 700 million of loans to small merchants and kirana store owners by March 2023 and are hoping to onboard more institutional debt partners in the near future,” he said.

Grover added that the company aims to become a digital bank that is the one-stop destination for merchants for all kinds of financial services and this tranche of funds will get things rolling.

Merchants are the top priority for the company and it is committed to solving the credit problem for them, he said.

“The institutional debt raised will help catapult our lending business. We intend to raise close to USD 700 million of debt capital over the next two years… By March 2023, our aim is to be present in 300 cities and have the lending product available in 200 cities,” he added.

Grover said the company has already disbursed loans to more than one lakh merchants and aims to scale this up by 8-10 times and enable credit for a million kirana store owners in 2021.

Currently, serving over 50 lakh merchants across 65 cities, the company has grown business 30 times in 2019 and processed over six crore UPI transactions a month (annualised transaction processed value of over USD 7 billion).

BharatPe has raised close to USD 171 million in equity and debt till date. The company’s investors include Beenext, Sequoia, SteadView Capital, Ribbit Capital, Coatue Management LLC, Insight Partners, and Amplo.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Appointments

Airtel appoints former Cabinet Secretary as independent director

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NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel, India’s premier communications solutions provider, today announced the appointment of PK Sinha and Shyamal Mukherjee as Independent Directors on its Board of Directors. The appointments are subject to approval by shareholders at Airtel’s upcoming Annual General Meeting.

PK Sinha, IAS (Retd.), served as the Cabinet Secretary for more than 4 years before moving to the Prime Minister’s Office. He retired from there in March 2021 after 44 years of continuous service to the nation. He has been a Government nominee Director in numerous major Public Sector Undertakings and is well versed with the principles of healthy corporate governance.

Shyamal Mukherjee is the former Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC lndia and was at the forefront of making PwC a future-ready firm. Shyamal began his professional journey with PwC in 1984 and became a partner in 1993. He held several leadership roles at PwC India, including Brand & Strategy leader and Leader of India Tax practice. Shyamal also serves as an Independent Director on the board of ITC Ltd and a member of its Audit Committee.

The Company added that Manish Kejriwal, Lead Independent Director, would be retiring on September 25, 2022 on completion of his second tenure. Shishir Priyadarshi would be leaving the board with effect from October 31, 2022 to devote time towards his other professior,21 commitments. D. K. Mittal IAS (Retd.), would be designated as Lead Independent Director with effect from September 26, 2022.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel said: “Airtel takes pride in having one of the most distinguished Board of Directors that is committed to high standards of corporate governance. These appointments are made with a long term view – to make the board future-ready, address the long term requirements of the Company and ensure smooth transition in key board positions. On behalf of the Board, I welcome PK Sinha and Shyamal Mukherjee and their valuable experience will add immense value to Airtel’s growth journey. I also want to thank fv1ani:;h Kejriwal and Shishir Priyadarshi for their tremendous contribution to Airtel.”

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5g

Narendra Modi inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed; says aims to roll out 6G end of decade

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NEW DELHI: India is targeting the rollout of 6G telecom network, which will provide ultra high speed internet connectivity, by the end of the decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.

India currently has 3G and 4G telecom networks and companies are gearing up to launch 5G over the next few months.

Speaking at the silver jubilee event of telecom sector regulator TRAI here, he said it is estimated that the 5G network rollout will add USD 450 billion to the Indian economy.

“This is not just increasing internet speed but also the pace of development and creating jobs,” he said, adding the 5G technology will bring positive change in governance of the country, ease of living and ease of doing business.

It will boost growth in agriculture, health, education, infrastructure and logistics, he said.

Connectivity, Modi said, will decide the progress of the country in the 21st century and so modern day infrastructure needs to be rolled out.

According to the prime minister, a task force has started work on rolling out 6G network by the end of the decade.

Taking potshots at the previous Congress-led UPA government, Modi said the 2G era was symbolic of policy paralysis and corruption.

The country, under his government, has moved transparently to 4G and is now going to 5G.

Teledensity and internet users are fast expanding, he said, adding that mobile manufacturing units in India have expanded from 2 to over 200 and the country is now the world’s biggest mobile manufacturing hub.

The prime minister also said that his government has encouraged healthy competition that has led to India having one of the cheapest telecom data charges in the world.

Indigenous 5G test bed in telecom sector is an important step in India’s self-reliance, he added.

PM Modi virtually inaugurates India’s first 5G testbed costing Rs 220 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s first 5G testbed to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.

The testbed has been set up at a cost of around Rs 220 crore. Speaking at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the Prime Minister said the 5G testbed is an important step for self-reliance in the direction of critical and modern technologies.

“I invite youth friends, researchers and companies to utilise the testing facility for making 5G technology,” Modi said.

The 5G testbed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras.

In the absence of a 5G testbed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

The other institutes that participated in the project are IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER) and Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technology (CEWiT).

The testbed facility will be available at 5 different locations.

Source: Press Trust of India

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5g

5G now in 1947 cities across 72 countries

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NEW DELHI: Viavi Solutions said that it has released new industry data revealing that the number of cities with 5G networks now stands at 1,947 globally. Despite the pandemic, 5G cities came online at a rate of nearly two per day, with the addition of 635 new 5G cities in 2021, according to the new VIAVI report “The State of 5G,” now in its sixth year.

By the end of January 2022, 72 countries had 5G networks in place, with the newest crop of 5G countries comprising Argentina, Bhutan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Malta and Mauritius, which all came online in the second half of 2021. Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) has overtaken Asia Pacific including Greater China (APAC) to become the region with the most 5G cities at 839. APAC has 689 5G cities and the Americas has 419.

Not surprisingly, the world’s two largest economies, the United States and China are the countries with the most 5G cities. China now has 356 5G cities and the United States has 296. The Philippines remained in the third spot globally with a total of 98 5G cities.

Currently, most 5G networks deployed are Non-Standalone (NSA) networks, meaning that 5G equipment is added to existing 4G network infrastructure. There are currently 24 Standalone (SA) 5G networks globally, meaning that they have been built using a new 5G core network. It is widely considered that many of the next-generation use cases and monetization models associated with 5G, beyond enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will only be possible when Standalone 5G networks built on new 5G core networks are in place.

The State of 5G also highlights the growing Open RAN ecosystem, combining mobile operators as well as software and infrastructure vendors, seeking to develop an open, virtualized Radio Access Network (RAN) with embedded Artificial Intelligence (AI) control. As of March 2022, 64 operators have publicly announced their participation in the development of Open RAN networks. This breaks down to 23 live deployments of Open RAN networks, 34 in the trial phase with a further seven operators that have publicly announced they are in the pre-trial phase.

“5G continued to expand, despite the headwinds of a global pandemic,” said Sameh Yamany, CTO, VIAVI Solutions. “What comes next in 5G is the reinforcement of networks. This will take a couple of forms. Firstly, we expect to see more Standalone 5G networks, which will deliver on much of the promise of 5G, both for the operator and for the wider ecosystem of users. And secondly, we expect to see Open RAN continue its rapid development and start to become a de facto standard. VIAVI will continue to play a central role in testing those new networks as they are built and expanded.”

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