A new player is preparing to enter the crowded yet duopoly market for UPI payments in India.
Bengaluru-based Slice, which turned unicorn late last year, plans to introduce UPI payments for its users within weeks, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The startup is currently testing the new payment method within the company, according to the source and screenshots obtained by thenewsupdate. The startup also appears to be redesigning the app to make UPI transactions intuitively simple with a new in-app navigation flow, according to the screenshots.
Slice’s embrace of UPI, a payment protocol built by a coalition of banks, comes at an interesting time.
Walmart-backed PhonePe and Google Pay currently top the charts with UPI payments — which have become the most popular way Indians transact online today — but a rule coming into effect soon will force them to give up some market share.
National Payments Corporation of India, the governing body that oversees the UPI ecosystem, is also working on new changes that are positioned to create an even level among UPI players.
It is working on a feature called digital mapper that will allow users to send money to each other using only their phone numbers instead of relying on virtual payment addresses.
The governing body also plans to standardize merchants’ payment experience on its payment platform by showing all UPI options at checkout.
The NPCI’s upcoming plans have rekindled the interest of several industry players to rethink how they view the payments ecosystem. Indian conglomerate Tata Digital also plans to launch support for UPI in its upcoming app, multiple people familiar with the matter said.
For the younger startup, UPI support is part of a broader plan to make Slice the “super app” for the payment needs of its younger demographic, the first source said. Slice founder and CEO Rajan Bajaj confirmed that the startup plans to launch UPI in the “coming weeks”, but declined to elaborate further.
Slice has become one of the largest card-using companies in the country, selling about 400,000 cards per month, according to a person familiar with the startup’s internal numbers. In addition to rapidly growing its card business, Slice has also expanded its offerings over the past year by broadening its rewards and also launching a card built for the masses.
It also internally tested social and microtransaction features, showed screenshots seen by thenewsupdate, and publicly shared its intention to launch a web3 identity platform.
“It has become second nature for us to jump between identities, whether we are online or offline. What if we stop and think about one ID that can be used anywhere and is completely controlled by you? Imagine an ID that can be used to accept payments, make KYC, make investments, apply for a visa, rent a car or even create a unique link to all of your brand’s social presence online – without any censorship,” Bajaj wrote in a LinkedIn post last year.
Slice’s UPI offering will be the first product to adopt &ID. When users sign up for the UPI feature on Slice, the startup places an NFT against their usernames.
Slice’s remarkable growth and aggressive plans also explain the interest it has received from investors. The startup is in advanced talks to complete another round of funding that will double its valuation since last November’s round of funding, the source said. A slew of new investors are positioning themselves to lead the rounds, but thenewsupdate was unable to identify who they are. Bajaj declined to comment on the startup’s fundraising efforts.