BharatPe, the leading payment and lending service provider, began its venture into acquisitions on Thursday as it acquired PAYBACK India, the multi-brand loyalty programme, from American Express and ICICI Investments Strategic Fund, which held stakes of 90% and 10% in PAYBACK India respectively. The acquisition will help BharatPe enhance its value proposition for the merchant partners.

While PAYBACK India will continue to function independently and as a wholly-owned subsidiary of BharatPe post-acquisition, its board will be joined by Suhail Sameer and Gautam Kaushik, group presidents, and Sumeet Singh, general counsel, BharatPe. PAYBACK’s employees will be a part of BharatPe’s group under the terms of the acquisition as well.

Additionally, the role of the senior leadership team at Payback India will be expanded to also work on the loyalty programme for BharatPe’s 6 million+ merchants.

The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

BharatPe, which aims to build a robust network of over 20 million small merchants by 2023, is set to provide digital credit to its customers and launch “Buy Now Pay Later” services on the PAYBACK platform, which allows its customers to earn and redeem points on every transaction at its partner merchant outlets. This is a new area for BharatPe, which has for a long time used traditional means to provide credit, power payments, and perform other financial services to its offline customers.

The transaction is a beneficial one for the three-year-old BharatPe, which will be able to build a lucrative set of offerings for end customers to enhance footfalls at merchants and accelerate the growth of their businesses.

According to Ashneer Grover, CEO and co-founder, BharatPe, the start-up can add a new dimension to its merchant value proposition with the acquisition, believing it to be a “win-win to meet the brand promises of both BharatPe and PAYBACK India.”

It would be a game-changer, he said, as the company is committed to build India’s largest and most engaged merchant network. The company  claims to have facilitated disbursals of over ₹ 1,600 crore to more than 2 lakh merchants since its launch.