Can Fintech Evolution Ensure Growth Amid Altered Funding Dynamics?

Policy Puzzles: Despite a 63% funding dip in 2023, how did India maintain its global standing in the global fintech arena amidst challenges? How does the sector uncover successes with a third-place rank in global startup funding?

Fozia Yasin
New Update

In the dynamic realm of fintech, 2023 marked a significant downturn for India's funding, witnessing a steep 63% decline. However, amid this financial ebb, the World Economic Forum has thrust a spotlight on India in the global fintech arena. Despite facing formidable challenges, India has secured the third position in global fintech startup funding, underscoring its prowess in international expansion.

A recent study conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) during its Annual Meeting 2024 has highlighted India as one of the most significant operating countries for hosting thriving fintech headquarters. Alongside global hubs like Singapore, the UK, and the US, India has emerged as a key player, fostering a cluster of fintech corporate headquarters.

Global Fintech Industry Resilience

The WEF's report, titled 'The Future of Global Fintech: Towards Resilient and Inclusive Growth,' emphasizes the robustness of the global fintech industry. Despite an uncertain economic outlook, fintechs continue to expand their financial services, with customer growth rates averaging above 50 percent globally. The main driving force behind this expansion is consumer demand, prompting fintechs to tailor services for traditionally underserved segments.

The study covered six regions globally—Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, the US, Canada, and sub-Saharan Africa. It provided a comprehensive snapshot of the rapidly evolving fintech ecosystem, showcasing the industry's strength and resilience on a global scale.

Funding Trends and Industry Sentiments

According to the report, a majority of fintech companies view their regulatory environment positively, with 63 percent rating it as adequate. Regulatory support is acknowledged as a major factor contributing to the operations and growth of fintechs, cited by 38 percent of surveyed companies. However, challenges persist, with a significant portion of fintechs finding regulatory compliance and licensing processes problematic.

In a separate report by data intelligence platform Tracxn, the fintech sector in India has witnessed a downward trend in funding, receiving $2 billion in 2023—a decline of 63 percent compared to previous years. Despite this, India maintained its global standing, ranking third in fintech startup funding. The challenges posed by increasing borrowing costs and macroeconomic conditions contributed to this decline.

Funding Breakdown and Emerging Trends

Breaking down the funding trends, late-stage rounds secured $1.4 billion, marking a 56 percent decrease compared to 2022. Early-stage and seed-stage rounds also saw substantial declines of 73 percent and 69 percent, respectively. Noteworthy investors in this space include Peak XV Partners, Y Combinator, and LetsVenture. However, India's prowess in digital payments is showcased by surpassing the combined transactions of the top four countries, with an impressive 89.5 million transactions recorded in 2022.

India's fintech industry has witnessed remarkable growth, becoming the second most-funded startup sector in the country in 2022. Fintech leaders like Razorpay, founded in 2014, have amassed over 300 million customers. The rise of Bangalore as the "Silicon Valley of India" has shifted the concentration of high-growth startups, diversifying beyond traditional hubs like Delhi and Mumbai.

Regulatory Response: RBI's Call for an SRO

The break-neck speed of fintech growth in India has prompted the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to call for the formation of a self-regulatory organization (SRO). In a draft framework released to ensure statutory and regulatory compliance for local fintech firms, the RBI aims to establish a consultative mechanism between the SRO and the central bank.

The proposed SRO will collaborate directly with the RBI, developing and updating the taxonomy for fintechs and supplying information as directed. The RBI retains the right to inspect SRO books and arrange audits. The SRO's board is tasked with establishing a framework for ongoing monitoring of the "fit and proper" status of its directors. Amendments to the draft proposal are expected by the end of February 2024, paving the way for a finalized regulatory framework.