In January 2020, India saw its latest entry to the unicorn club—startups valued at over $1 billion—when payments solutions provider Pine Labs raised funding that could amount to as much as $300 million. This financing round values the company at over $1.2 billion.
The emergence of yet another unicorn is a marked change from a time not so long ago when this was still a rare milestone. However, over the last two years, there has been a steady increase in the number of unicorn startups. Worldwide, the count stands at nearly 500.
Pine Labs – Unicorn Future, Hoary Past
Payments solutions provider Pine Labs is the latest Indian unicorn. Scratch past the billion-dollar veneer, however, and there’s a murky past that lies forgotten
Pine Labs has established itself as India’s largest PoS provider—15% of retail card payment volumes flow through its network
It is now valued at a billion dollars, but the unicorn status was founded on bilking a long-time customer
It was a couple of obscure loopholes in the Indian Copyright Act that secured for it its payments and loyalty card business
The timeline is wonky too. Its founder Lokvir Kapoor joined Pine Labs in 2003-04, but the company was founded in 1998