Fintech unicorn Slice and North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB) are thrilled to announce their forthcoming merger Slice North East Small Finance Bank. With a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in hand, this merger will propel their shared vision of merging cutting-edge technology with grassroots financial inclusion into reality.
Accelerating Financial Inclusion and Technological Integration
Subject to the required shareholders’ consent and regulatory approvals, this merger unites slice’s digital expertise with NESFB’s foundation in grassroots banking. Together, they are poised to elevate their commitment to financial accessibility, promising an unparalleled digital banking experience for their valued customers.
This merger also underscores the RBI’s steadfast dedication to fostering innovation and championing digital financial inclusion.
Rajan Bajaj, Founder & CEO of slice, enthusiastically commented on the merger, stating, “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the RBI for entrusting us with this significant responsibility. At slice, our unwavering devotion to our customers and robust risk management have set us apart. This approach allows us to serve a broader audience, including those who are often underserved, while cultivating deep emotional connections with our customers. We are committed to further strengthening our risk underwriting through the innovative use of technology and data, always keeping our customers at the center of our decision-making. This merger represents an opportunity to create a highly inclusive and responsible bank, offering an unparalleled experience grounded in robust risk management and strong governance.”
Adding to this, Rupali Kalita, MD & CEO of NESFB, emphasized, “Our alliance with slice signifies an exciting expansion of our reach and an enhancement of our services. With a dedicated focus on supporting the underserved, our collaboration is fortified by slice’s innovative technology and a strong emphasis on the customer experience. Simultaneously, we remain steadfast in fortifying bank governance, striving for continuous improvements in compliance, risk management, and leadership. Together, our goal is to deliver accessible and exceptional services, fostering inclusive and responsible banking for all.”
NESFB will continue its dedicated service to North East India, marrying technology with a profound understanding of local communities to offer top-tier financial services to the region. This union of technology and empathy will not only fortify their enduring commitment to the North East but also facilitate the extension of financial inclusion nationwide.
A Bright Future for Customers
Customers of both entities can look forward to an expanded range of products, seamless omnichannel offerings, and an enhanced overall experience. Over the coming months, both organizations will work diligently to ensure a smooth transition for all customers.
This merger represents a significant leap forward in enhancing financial inclusivity through cutting-edge tech solutions, driving innovation, and setting new industry benchmarks.
About Slice North East Small Finance Bank
Slice stands as India’s foremost consumer payments and credit company, dedicated to providing financial services to millions of Indians. Trusted by 15 million customers, Slice is a market leader in this rapidly growing segment. The company’s mission is to create a smart, innovative, and transparent financial platform that resonates with its consumers. The Slice app offers a fast and straightforward way to make payments and access credit through its core products: the Slice account, Slice UPI, and Slice borrow.
Slice’s overarching goal is to improve the world’s financial literacy and time management, with a strong focus on delivering the best consumer experience. Backed by leading investors, including Tiger Global, Insight Partners, Advent International, Blume Ventures, and Gunosy Capital, Slice has collectively raised $290 million in its series A, B, and C rounds.
NESFB proudly holds the distinction of being the sole small financial bank in the North-Eastern region of India, boasting an extensive branch network spanning 9 states. As a preferred banking institution, NESFB offers a comprehensive suite of financial services, including bank accounts, deposits, cards, loans, and mutual funds. NESFB is dedicated to addressing the diverse financial needs of individuals by promptly, conveniently, and responsibly delivering well-suited financial products and services. Leveraging doorstep banking and cutting-edge technology, NESFB plays a pivotal role in nurturing sustainable growth within the broader community.
Slice’s Journey to Financial Innovation
In a strategic move set to redefine the financial landscape, Slice, the fintech unicorn, and North East Small Finance Bank (NESFB) are joining forces. This merger, following Slice’s acquisition of a 10% stake in NESFB, promises to elevate the new entity’s product offerings and accelerate its product development, according to industry experts.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced a series of guidelines last year that significantly impacted numerous startups, including Slice North East Small Finance Bank and its rival, Uni, as well as neobanks like Jupiter and Fi. These changes forced many companies to reconsider how they issued cards and operated in the financial space.
Slice’s Founder and CEO, Rajan Bajaj, expressed gratitude to the RBI for entrusting them with this immense responsibility. He emphasized Slice’s unwavering commitment to customers and robust risk management, which has set them apart in the industry. This approach enables Slice to serve a broader audience, including those often overlooked, while fostering deep emotional connections with customers.
Notably, Slice boasts support from prominent investors such as Tiger Global, Insight Partners, Blume Ventures, and EMVC. In its previous funding round last year, Slice was valued at approximately $1.5 billion. The initial investment in North East Small Finance Bank last year placed the lender’s value at about $68 million.
Reports suggest that at least two investors are in discussions to invest approximately $125 million in the merged entity. However, Bajaj has not provided further details beyond confirming the merger Slice North East Small Finance Bank.
Vikram Chachra, General Partner at 8i Ventures and an early backer of Slice North East Small Finance Bank, believes that the union of Slice and NESFB is a defining moment in India’s fintech journey. He sees it as a herald of a digital-first banking revolution that will cater to India’s vast population of smartphone users, numbering over 600 million.
Established in 2016, North East Small Finance Bank operates as a subsidiary of RGVN (NE) Microfinance, serving customers in the northeastern region of India. Notable backers include Pi Ventures, Bajaj Group, and government-backed SIDBI Venture Capital.
India, with its immense population, is experiencing a pivotal phase in its banking sector, with banks and fintech startups increasingly forming partnerships. Federal Bank and SBM Bank India have actively engaged startups to boost their businesses, while larger banks like HDFC, ICICI, and Axis are also embracing this trend.
Venture capitalists are now showing increased interest in investing in banks, exemplified by Accel and Quona’s backing of Shivalik Small Finance Bank last year.
However, in the South Asian market, merging with a bank or obtaining a banking license remains a rare occurrence, especially with heightened regulatory oversight in recent quarters. The central bank has been cautious about tech giants’ growing presence in the financial services sector, even for minor licenses like those for Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs).
The central bank has largely rejected applications for universal banks in recent years, including one from Flipkart billionaire Sachin Bansal. In contrast, the capital adequacy ratio of the Slice-North East bank is considerably higher than the 15% mandated by the central bank. Slice’s current annualized revenue exceeds $100 million, according to insiders.
Rupali Kalita, Managing Director and Chief Executive of NESFB, views this alliance with Slice as an exciting expansion of their reach and service enhancement. She emphasized their shared commitment to supporting the underserved, backed by Slice’s innovative technology and a strong focus on customer experience. Additionally, NESFB is dedicated to strengthening bank governance, improving compliance, risk management, and leadership, with the ultimate goal of delivering accessible and exceptional services to foster inclusive and responsible banking for all in Slice North East Small Finance Bank.