Morning Dispatch: Top tech & startup news today

The Directorate of Enforcement is probing potential violations of forex laws linked to entities using Paytm Payments Bank. More stories around the fintech in today’s ETtech Morning Dispatch.

Also in the letter:

■ Ola’s valuation cut to below $2 bn

■ Enterprise fintech poised for $20 bn boom by 2030

■ ETtech Done Deals


ED tapped RBI for more info on FX violations by Paytm Bank users

Paytm ED investigation

The ED has sought information from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on an alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (Fema) by individuals and companies using Paytm Payments Bank, sources told ET.

Driving the news: The RBI had alerted the ED to potential Fema breaches in November. Within 10 days, the ED requested details to help identify “entities” involved to start a Fema investigation, a top official said. Additionally, the government agency also sought information on entities that had made suspiciously “huge” deposits in Paytm wallets.

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One 97 Communications, the parent entity that owns and operates the Paytm brand, on Monday denied media reports that it is being investigated by the ED.

Not guilty yet: The authorities will investigate individuals or companies suspected of violating Fema through Paytm, not the platform itself, one person said. Further action like penalties by the RBI or investigations by FIU will depend on the outcome of the probes.

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The person clarified that the possibility of “complicity” by platform insiders can only be uncovered once the “prime violators” are investigated.

KYC issues: Meanwhile, Paytm is awaiting RBI approval to start moving its settlements business from Paytm Payments Bank to other lenders to retain its customers. But two senior bankers told ET that given KYC issues in the past with Paytm users, bankers are awaiting clearance from the regulator before taking on the business.

Paytm KYC story GFX

Founders back Paytm: A group of entrepreneurs have jointly petitioned RBI governor Shaktikanta Das and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, to “review” and “reconsider” the directive against Paytm Payments Bank, arguing that it carries consequences beyond just Paytm.

Startup letter GFX

Also read | Paytm shares crash over 42% in 3 days; investors lose Rs 20,500 crore

Rivals eye gains: Walmart-owned PhonePe has seen a jump of at least 15-20% in its user base over the last few days as Paytm falters. It is bracing for a potential influx with faster merchant growth and is already preparing systems for handling the additional load.

Peers fishing for top talent: According to executives at recruitment services firms, Paytm’s competitors are keen on hiring employees in tech and sales teams and have started sending feelers. Paytm employees in the roles of sales, business development, channel management, product management and in tech roles such as full-stack development and IT infrastructure management are actively seeking opportunities, according to CIEL.



Read our detailed coverage on Paytm:


Relief for Byju’s in TLB lenders’ suit


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A Bengaluru civil court dismissed a challenge by Byju’s lenders against Manipal Group chairman Ranjan Pai’s acquisition of a 40% stake in its subsidiary Aakash Institute, offering temporary relief to the edtech giant.

Legal tangle: The lenders of Byju’s $1.2 billion term loan had moved the city court last Thursday seeking an ex-parte injunction on the transaction allowing Pai to convert a loan of $250-300 million he had advanced to the brick-and-mortar coaching network into equity in Aakash Institute.

Byjus GFX taking stock

Sources said this move caught both Byju’s and Pai “by surprise”. The lenders were petitioning the court about Pai’s conversion of debt into equity at a $600 million valuation, significantly lower than the $950 million ascribed to Aakash Institute when it was acquired by Byju’s parent Think & Learn in 2021. The lenders, controlling 80% of the term loan, argued the Aakash deal harms their interests.

Verdict: “In an order issued today, a court in Bengaluru has dismissed a suit filed by the TLB lenders against Byju’s. Consequently, the lenders’ misguided attempt to injunct Byju’s from dealing with its shares in Aakash Educational Services Ltd has been rejected,” the company said in a statement to ET.

Zoom out: Lenders have already dragged cash-strapped Byju’s to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) with an insolvency plea. They have also forced its US subsidiary Byju’s Alpha to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Read the latest on Byju’s crisis:


Ola’s valuation slashed by 29% to below $2 billion


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A fund operated by US investment major Vanguard marked down the fair value of ride-hailing platform Ola’s parent ANI Technologies to $1.88 billion as of November 30. It is 74% lower than the last valuation at which the company raised funds in December 2021.



Some math:
This also marks a 29% cut from Vanguard’s previous fair value of $2.65 billion as of August 31, according to filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Vanguard had earlier revised the valuation of its shareholding in ANI Technologies by 24% to $3.5 billion, which was the value as of May 31 last year.

FY23 report card: ANI Technologies narrowed its standalone loss by 65% to Rs 1,082 crore in the last financial year, while sales surged 63% to Rs 1,987.5 crore.

On January 25, Ola Cabs’ new chief executive Hemant Bakshi said fleet-wide electrification and premiumisation will drive growth for the ride-hailing company going ahead.

Also read | Fidelity cuts fair value of Meesho, Pine Labs


Enterprise fintech market may reach $20 billion by 2030, says report

Card Fintech startup

As the demand for fintech infrastructure providers increases, the Indian enterprise fintech market size is expected to touch $20 billion, a report from venture capital firm Chiratae Ventures and finance consultancy Digital Fifth said.

Driving demand: The demand for enterprise fintech players stems from traditional financial institutions’ need to evolve. Partnering with a fintech allows incumbents to broaden their reach through partnerships, meet diverse needs with tailor-made solutions, refine underwriting, and navigate regulations efficiently.

Fine print: As the enterprise fintech market gains traction, it is expected to attract another $7-$8 billion in funding from risk investors until 2030, Chiratae said in the report.


ETtech Done Deals

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Astrotalk cofounder Anmol Jain

Astrotalk to raise $20 million: Noida-based startup Astrotalk, which provides astrology consulting services, is set to raise $20 million in its first institutional funding round from New York-based venture capital firm Left Lane Capital.

Senior citizen app Khyaal raises $4.2 million: Titan Capital-backed startup Khyaal, which focuses on services for senior citizens, has raised $4.2 million in a funding round co-led by 62 Ventures, SVQuad and early-stage venture capital firm Inventus Capital Partners.

Healthtech startup Aarogya Tech raises $1.5 million in funding: Healthtech startup Aarogya Tech on Monday said it has raised around $1.8 million in a seed funding round, with $1.5 million in fresh capital led by Hasu P Shah, founder and chairman emeritus of Hersha Hospitality Trust, who will be joining the Aarogya Tech Board.

Sports tech startup SportVot raises Rs 9 crore: Sports tech startup SportVot on Monday said it has raised Rs 9.4 crore in Series A funding round led by Omidyar Network India.


Other Top Stories By Our Reporters

TCS Higher furloughs to weigh on sales

TCS wins multi-year deal from Europ Assistance: As the strategic partner, TCS will step up its delivery centres in Europe and across geographies to provide Europ Assistance end-to-end enterprise IT application services.

‘Banking access at risk if you seek to delete credit data’: If bank customers request deletion of loan data from the database of a credit information company (CIC), exercising a right under the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act, they may no longer be able to continue with the banking system in the future, an IT ministry official told ET.


Global Picks We Are Reading

■ Meta finally figures out how to sell the Metaverse (WSJ)

■ Facebook at 20: Four ways the app changed the world (BBC)

■ The fastest-growing countries for software development, according to GitHub (Rest of World)

Harry Byrne

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