Credits: Wikimedia Commons

BillDesk is one of the most popular methods used to conduct digital transactions such as organizing and paying utility bills. Now, the digital payments provider has been acquired by global internet group and technology investor Prosus NV, a spin-off of Naspers, for $4.7 billion. Prosus announced that an agreement has been reached between BillDesk and its fintech and digital payments arm PayU.

This acquisition is subject to approval from regulatory bodies, including the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

With the acquisition, PayU will become one of the leading digital payment providers globally by total payment volume (TPV), and its business would be complemented by BillDesk. Together they will “create a financial ecosystem handling four billion transactions annually – four times PayU’s current level in India,” the company said in a statement.

The statement added, “Together, PayU India and BillDesk will be able to meet the changing payments needs of digital consumers, merchants and Government enterprises in India and offer state-of-the-art technology to even more of the excluded sections of society, while adhering to the regulatory environment in India and delivering robust consumer protection.”

While the 21-year-old BillDesk is one of the largest payment platforms in the country (with ₹2.71 billion in after-tax net profit for FY ended March 31, 2021), PayU offers payments for both cross-border and domestic transactions, credit solutions for small businesses and consumers, as well as make strategic investments in innovative fintech start-ups.

The acquisition will bring Prosus’s cumulative investment in Indian tech to more than $10 billion. Prosus CEO said that “Payments and fintech is a core segment for Prosus, and India remains our number one investment destination.” This is true, since the world’s second-largest internet market has been the focus of Prosus for quite some time, and the investor has made investments in several Indian start-ups, including Swiggy. PayU had earlier made several acquisitions in India, including CitrusPay, Paysense, and Wibmo.

“We have a long and deep relationship with India, having supported and partnered with some of its most dynamic entrepreneurs and new tech businesses since 2005. We’ve invested close to US$6 billion in Indian tech to date,” said Bob van Dijk, Group CEO of Prosus, adding that BillDesk exemplified “the ambition and expertise of Indian entrepreneurs, who are among the best in the world, with exceptional abilities to build products and services and understand scale and value. This is critical in a country as vast as India.”

PayU CEO Laurent Le Moal said, “We believe this transaction will stimulate both innovation and competition within India’s digital payments industry. This will not only help to strengthen India’s digital economy, but also bring financial services to those who may have historically been excluded. This ambition is fully aligned with the Government of India’s vision of ‘Digital India’ and is a key objective for PayU across all the communities we serve globally.”