In a significant development in the world of fintech and banking, Slice, a fintech credit and payments startup, is set to merge with North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB). This merger, approved by the Reserve Bank of India, marks a groundbreaking milestone as it transforms Slice into an SFB (Small Finance Bank), a first-of-its-kind achievement in the fintech and banking space. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of this merger and its potential implications.
A Transformative Merger:
Slice, headquartered in Bengaluru, was valued at approximately US$1.8 billion in its last fundraising round in the previous year. The merger comes after Slice’s acquisition of a 5 percent stake in NESFB for $3.4 million in March 2023. While the exact shareholding details of the merger arrangement remain undisclosed, it is likely that Slice’s shareholders will hold a majority stake in the merged entity.
Regulatory Approval and Its Significance:
The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) approval for this merger is particularly noteworthy. RBI officials have previously expressed reservations about fintech companies acquiring licenses through the acquisition of regulated entities like banks and NBFCs. However, in this instance, the regulator has demonstrated full confidence in Slice’s shareholders, signifying a pivotal moment in the Small Finance Bank (SFB) landscape.
The PM SVANidhi Scheme:
Slice’s primary focus has been on serving college students and new-to-job employees by providing credit and payment services. NESFB, on the other hand, operates across the seven North East states along with West Bengal, concentrating on customers in rural areas and the bottom of the pyramid segment. This merger is expected to enhance the financial inclusion goals of both entities.
The merger between Slice and NESFB is poised to redefine digital banking in India. Slice, with its digital-first approach, has the potential to revolutionize the modern banking experience for the smartphone generation. This transformation aligns with the regulator’s forward-looking approach towards fintech and signals a willingness to integrate fintechs into the banking fold.
Advantages for Slice:
Becoming an SFB allows Slice to accept deposits and access funds for credit at more favorable rates than many other fintechs and NBFCs. Additionally, Slice’s strong credit underwriting for individuals new to credit positions it well to advance financial inclusion by lending to a broader customer base.
The merger between Slice and NESFB represents a significant milestone in the convergence of fintech and banking in India. It showcases the regulator’s progressive stance on fintech integration while setting the stage for Slice to innovate and provide enhanced digital banking experiences. As this collaboration unfolds, it holds the promise of expanding financial inclusion and transforming the way banking services are delivered to customers across the nation.
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