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Decoding PayU’s $300 mn+ lending play

With its acquisition of digital loan startup PaySense, the payments firm is getting serious about selling loans

PayU is on a roll.

The digital payments company, owned by South African media and tech conglomerate Naspers, has spent in the vicinity of $500 million on fintech acquisitions and investments globally in just the past two years. To cap it all off, two weeks ago, PayU announced it was buying PaySense, a tiny Mumbai-based startup which runs an app offering quick personal loans in one of India’s biggest ever fintech deals.

PaySense—which recorded revenue of about Rs 18 crore ($2.5 million) in the year ended 31 March 2019—was valued at $185 million. PayU, which already held about 19% in the company, raised its stake to around 80%, Entrackr reported; PayU didn’t specify exactly how much it paid, but it would be north of $100 million at least.

The deal highlights PayU’s ambitions to build out a credit business, and eventually a broader financial services play. However, the PaySense deal also comes at a time when PayU has just finished big changes in senior leadership, competition continues to be fierce and investors and founders are slowly coming to the realization that selling loans, especially to individuals, is actually not at all easy.

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