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PayU acquires BillDesk for $4.7 billion

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NEW DELHI: In one of the biggest deals in the Indian consumer internet space, global player Prosus NV on Tuesday said its fintech business PayU will buy digital payments provider BillDesk for USD 4.7 billion (about Rs 34,376.2 crore).

With the deal, the Netherlands-incorporated Prosus NV”s investment in India will jump to more than USD 10 billion.

The PayU-BillDesk transaction, which is subject to approval from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), is expected to close by early 2022, Prosus Group CEO Bob van Dijk told reporters during a briefing.

“The combination will create a leading digital payments company in India and globally, and it is exceptionally well-positioned to expand deeper into the Indian fintech ecosystem as more and more Indian customers move from cash to digital transactions,” he added.

Dijk noted that Prosus has been a long term investor in India and has invested close to USD 6 billion in India in tech companies since 2005. With the latest transaction, its investment in India will be more than USD 10 billion.

“That underlines our commitment to our presence in India, our future in India and scaling in India… The country has been the core focus of our investment over the past decade, and I believe it will be a very significant driver of our growth over the next decade as well,” he said.

Prosus has invested in companies like Byju”s, Meesho, Swiggy, Urban Company and others in India.

The latest transaction builds on previous acquisitions by PayU in India, including CitrusPay, Paysense and Wibmo.

It will help PayU — the payments and fintech business of Prosus that operates in more than 20 high-growth markets — become one of the leading online payment providers globally, handling Total Payment Volume (TPV) of USD 147 billion.

BillDesk was founded in 2000 and is backed by investors like General Atlantic, Visa, TA Associates, Clearstone Venture and Temasek. It has about 600 employees.

Dijk said along with classifieds, food delivery, and education technology, payments and fintech is a core segment for Prosus.

He noted that over the next few years, more than 200 million new users are expected to adopt digital payments and the average the number of annual transactions per person is expected to rise ten-fold in the next three years from 22 to 220 — which presents a massive growth opportunity.

Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant termed the transaction as a “big move”.

“Deal brings Prosus”s cumulative investment in Indian tech to more than US$10bn. Acquisition will see PayU, become the leading online payment providers globally, handling a payment volume of US$147 billion,” he tweeted.

For the financial year ended March 2021, PayU reported a strong performance, increasing TPV by 51 per cent year-on-year to USD 55 billion across India, Latin America and EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa).

PayU offers credit solutions for consumers and small businesses, and has strategic investments in fintech companies.

“By bringing together these two complementary businesses, we expect to create a fintech ecosystem handling 4 billion transactions annually,” Anirban Mukherjee, CEO of PayU India, said.

He said the combination will help grow India”s digital payments industry, propel the Digital India vision, and allow PayU to service the key audiences of consumers, merchants and banks and utilise that scale — both in India and internationally and innovate further.

BillDesk”s network is used by some of the biggest banks in the country and a large number of merchants across utilities, telecom, insurance and other verticals.

“The combination will allow us to gain scale, build market leadership across all payments verticals and establish a strong presence in the payment value chain, serving merchants across all segments,” he added.

Asked if BillDesk will operate as a separate entity, Mukherjee said the transaction is expected to close in a few months and “even post close, we will take our time to figure out how to bring the platforms together”.

“… Anything we do, will be in consultation with the RBI because these are platforms that both serve millions of merchants, so we need to be very thoughtful about it, that”s what we intend to do. Having said that, we are also committed to cross-pollinating and using each other”s solutions on our client bases such that we can offer best of the breed solutions to all merchants,” he added.

M N Srinivasu, Co-Founder of BillDesk, said the company has been a pioneer in driving digital payments in India for well over a decade.

“This investment by Prosus validates the significant opportunity in India for digital payments that is being propelled by innovation and the progressive regulatory framework put into place by the Reserve Bank of India,” Srinivasu said.

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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