Chinese Internet companies turned towards India in pursuit of a greater scale. Several firms (of course, they have Indian entities) in content such as TikTok, Helo, Bigo, and Newsdog have been gaining quick grounds in India. Simultaneously, some others are struggling (like ClubFactory) and a few also winded up their operations.
Kwai had shut down Indian office while Shunwei-funded Coconut had ceased its operations early this year. Even before the launch, fintech firm WeCash has wrapped up its plans of launching a consumer-facing lending product in the country.
According to three Entrackr’s sources, the Chinese Unicorn has laid off its entire team in India.
“WeCash had a plan to launch a consumer lending product in partnership with banks and NBFCs. It also invested close to $3 million in setting up a team of about 25 people. However, the firm decided to move from the country for several reasons,” said two sources familiar with the development.
Uncertainty around the use of Aadhaar identification by private companies and prioritisation of business in China are reasons for the firm winding up Indian operations. WeCash is a popular consumer lending cum big data platform in China and has a presence in Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam.
“WeCash’s COO Nitin Agarwal along with CMO Daman Soni also left the firm in last month,” added sources.
Sources requested anonymity as they aren’t authorised to speak to the media. Entrackr also has confirmed Agarwal’s movement from the company through his LinkedIn profile. Presently, he’s serving as Chief Digital Officer at Edelweiss.
Entrackr has sent queries to WeCash’s China as well as Indian team and will update the post as responses come in.
Besides fintech solutions, WeCash also offers VIP membership with benefits covering various lifestyle services across the hospitality, transportation, shopping, entertainment, and household segments. Almost a year ago, it raised $160 million worth Series D round led by ORIX Asia Capital.
According to an ET report in July last year, the company was looking to recruit 50 people by the end of 2018. The company’s decision to pull the plug from India is a little surprising as it had spent over Rs 20 crore and about a year to ramp up the local team.
WeCash’s walking out from India is a lesson or two for stakeholders of the Indian startup ecosystem including enterprise and VCs (especially funds with real or fake Chinese DNA) looking to mirror Chinese scale and success stories.
While WeCash’s horizon in India may appear short-sighted, the firm must have done the math before resorting to the ultimate call. One as an entrepreneur as well as a team must know when to retreat from a market or vertical irrespective of investment, reputation, and ego.