In late 2021, a few months into his new job as an analyst at consultancy firm Bain, 22-year-old Pranav Manie decided to get his first credit card. A customer of HDFC Bank, he looked over the bank’s offerings and began the process of applying for one. Despite sharing the necessary information with the bank, however, HDFC never responded. That snub pushed Manie towards six-year-old fintech Slice.

The ease of obtaining a credit card through Slice was a major draw for Manie. The entire process takes place through Slice’s app, with approval happening in as little as a few hours. Another big driver was Slice’s discount offerings on online platforms, a reason that was cited by all but one of the eight Slice users The Ken spoke with.   

Targeted at customers like Manie, Slice had its breakout year in 2021. Founded in 2015 by Rajan Bajaj, a former Flipkart executive, it began life as a student-focused micro-lending platform. However, its pivot into card-based lending in 2019 is what truly changed its fortunes. The startup is issuing about 200,000 to 250,000 cards per month, according to company executives The Ken spoke with. 

On the back of this traction, Slice raised US$220 million US$220 million TechCrunch India’s Slice becomes unicorn with $220M funding from Tiger Global, Insight Partners and Advent Read more  in November from the likes of Tiger Global and Insight Partners. This earned it a billion-dollar valuation and entry into India’s unicorn stable. All told, the firm has raised a total of US$291 million.

Slice, however, isn’t really a credit card. Instead, it describes itself as a “credit card challenger” because while a Slice card—issued in partnership with State Bank of Mauritius (SBM)—operates just like a traditional credit card, it is engineered differently at the backend. In truth, it is a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) service in credit card’s clothing.

The Bengaluru-based firm isn’t lumbered with the baggage of legacy credit card players either. Unlike the plodding, cautious nature of incumbents, it is agile when it comes to issuing cards. Its sleek interface also sets it apart, appealing to a younger demographic. 

“Slice has been acquiring customers aggressively, with a focus on low-income groups and growing 40% [month-on-month],” analysts at investment bank Goldman Sachs noted in a recent report. It caters to this demographic by offering cards with credit limits anywhere between Rs 2,000 (US$27) and Rs 10 lakh (US$13,437) depending on a borrower’s creditworthiness.

Today, the Goldman Sachs report added, Slice trails only HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank in terms of credit cards issued per month. Both banks issue between 250,000-300,000 cards each month.

AUTHOR

Jaspreet Kalra

Jaspreet covers banking, financial technology and digital assets. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Jaspreet has previously worked with CoinDesk and Bank Automation News. When unoccupied with work, he can be found pretending to read hardbacks while listening to stand-up specials.

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