Get full access to one story every week, and to summaries of all other stories. Just create a free account

On 8 April, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das said the Indian banking regulator was looking into looking into Inc42 Digital Lenders Including BNPL Under RBI Lens Read more the practices of digital lenders, especially buy now, pay later (BNPL) companies.

The statement made one of India’s oldest fintechs that had partnered with a consumer finance company to offer BNPL loans anxious. It disbursed loans worth more than Rs 200 crore (~US$25 million) every month to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The fintech player reached out to one of the Big Four auditing firms—Deloitte, Ernst and Young (EY), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and KPMG—for advice. Result: the company hived off its BNPL business into a separate unit to avoid a major disruption from regulatory changes. 

The RBI has been getting very active in issuing directives. Earlier in June, it came up with the prepaid payment instruments prepaid payment instruments The Ken Slice, Uni Cards, other fintechs start over as RBI says no to easy credit Read more  (PPIs) rule—fintechs made a beeline to the Big Four for that too.

Traditionally, retail banks, pharmaceutical companies, and listed firms availed of the Big Four’s services to meet the regulatory-compliance requirements mandated by governing bodies such as the RBI, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), stock exchanges (National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange), and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

But since at least 2019, fintech startups such as Paytm, PhonePe, Razorpay, BharatPe, Cred, and Slice have started paying for these services. Other prominent Indian startups such as foodtech giants Zomato and Swiggy, Ola (which also has a fintech arm, OlaMoney, that offers BNPL loans), edtech Byju’s, and hospitality company Oyo have also contracted the Big Four to ensure compliance with Indian laws, according to people close to the matter.

For the Big Four, this is a high-margin business that can be executed once and serve multiple clients. They charge between Rs 5 and 15 crore (~US$625,000-1.8 million) yearly—earning a margin of at least 50%—to conduct policy and regulatory checks. 

They also cross-sell services like cyber and information security, along with assessments of credit, financial, and market risks, among others.

Though it’s a significant expense for a company, it is crucial for them to know which aspect of their business might run into regulatory crosshairs. 

“After every report, at least I know I won’t be out of business in the next six months,” says a senior executive at a leading BNPL company that utilises EY’s regulatory-advisory services.

AUTHOR

Shashwat Mohanty

Shashwat covers cleantech and internet. An alum of St. Xavier's College (Bombay), SCMC, and ACJ, Shashwat has previously worked at The Economic Times and Meesho. When he isn't missing deadlines, Shashwat likes attending live music gigs, discussing baseball, and watching Parks and Rec with his partner 🏳️‍🌈

View Full Profile

Read this story. Subscribe Now

This story is available across both editions. Subscribe to the one that’s most relevant for you. Questions?

 

Premium

  • 5 original and reported longform business stories every week
  • Access to ONLY India edition
  • Close to 250 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 6 years of paywalled stories
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters
  • 4 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to ONLY Southeast Asia edition
  • Close to 200 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to all paywalled stories since March 2020
  • Pick up to 5 premium subscriber newsletters

Rs. 2,750 /year

$ 120 /year

India Edition
Subscribe Subscribe
Most Asked For

Borderless

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 6 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories

Rs. 4,200 /year

Subscribe
 

Echelon

  • 8 original and reported longform business stories each week
  • Access to both India and Southeast Asia editions
  • Close to 400 exclusive stories every year
  • Full access to over 6 years of paywalled stories across India and Southeast Asia
  • Unlimited access to all premium subscriber newsletters
  • Visual Stories
  • Bonus annual gift subscription
  • Priority access to all new products and features

Rs. 8,474 /year

Subscribe
Or

Questions?

What kind of subscription plans do you offer?

We have three types of subscriptions
- Premium which gives you access to either the India or the Southeast Asia edition.
- Borderless which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions
- Echelon which gives you complete access to The Ken across both editions along with a bonus gift subscription

What do I get if I subscribe?

The Premium edition gives you access to stories in that edition along with any five subscriber-only newsletters of your choice.

The Borderless and Echelon subscription gives you complete access to The Ken across editions and unlimited access to as many newsletters as you like.

What topics do you usually write about?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics. We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

Our specialised subscriber-only newsletters are written by our expert, award-winning journalists and cover a range of topics across finance, retail, clean energy, cryptocurrency, ed-tech and many more.

How many newsletters do you have?

We are constantly adding specialised subscriber-only newsletters all the time. All of these are written by our team of award-winning journalists on a specialised topic.

You can see the list of newsletters that we publish over here.

Does a Premium subscription to your Indian edition get me access to the Southeast Asia edition? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

We recommend the Borderless or the Echelon Plan which will give you access to stories across both editions.

Do you have a mobile app?

Yes! We have a top-rated mobile app on both iOS and Android which allows you to read on-the-go and has some amazing features like the ability to bookmark stories, save on your device, dark mode, and much more. It’s really the best way to read The Ken.

Is there a free trial?

You can sign up for a free account to experience The Ken and understand our products better. We’ll send you some free stories and newsletters occasionally, and you can access our archive of previously published free stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

The vast majority of our stories, articles and newsletters can be accessed only by a paid subscription.

Do you offer any discounts?

Sorry, no. Our journalism is funded completely by our subscribers. We believe that quality journalism comes at a price, and readers trust and pay us so that we can remain independent.

Do you offer refunds?

No. We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Just write to us at [email protected] with details. We’ll help you out.

I have a few more questions. How can I reach out to you?

Sure. Just email us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter.