Neo-banking platforms have been spending heavily to chase scale and this has been reflective in the financial performance of new-age banking startups such as Jupiter and Fi. While Jupiter remained in a pre-revenue stage in the last fiscal year, Fi (formerly epiFi) has managed to cross the Rs 20 crore mark in the fiscal year ending March 2022.
Fi’s collection from operations blew around 271X to Rs 21 crore during FY22 from Rs 51.55 lakh in FY21, according to its consolidated annual financial statements with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
The Alpha Wave and B Capital-backed firm collected 73.2% of the total operating income from platform services which stood at Rs 15.38 crore. It also cornered Rs 5.62 crore via marketing activities. The company earned Rs 4.66 crore as interest on bank deposits and other non-operating income which steered the total revenue to Rs 25.67 crore in FY22.
Led by former Google Pay executives —Sujith Narayanan and Sumit Gwalani — Fi provides consumer-centric financial solutions for digital natives through a mobile app and web-based solutions. It provides financial assistance and accommodation with or without security and interest for short, long and medium term by way of discounting cheques, bills or any other negotiable and transferable documents.
As per Fintrackr’s analysis, advertisement expenses formed 58.8% of the overall expenditure and this cost skyrocketed 87X to Rs 159.2 crore in FY22 from Rs 1.83 crore in FY21. Employee benefits expense was the second largest cost for Fi which surged 83.6% to Rs 72.56 crore in FY22. Importantly, this cost also included Rs 18.92 crore on ESOPs.
With explosion in scale, spending on technical consultancy and IT & communication blew 4.2X and 4.4X respectively to Rs 15 crore and Rs 10.4 crore during the last fiscal year. Fi also incurred Rs 1.86 crore on legal & professional fees which catalysed its total expenditure by 5.3X to Rs 270.87 crore in FY22 against Rs 51.55 crore in FY21.
In the end, the annual losses of the company spiked 4.9X to Rs 245.2 crore in FY22 as compared to Rs 50.3 crore in the previous fiscal year. Following the high cash burn, cash outflows from operating activities also grew 4.6X to Rs 218 crore during the same period.
With the company finally generating a meaningful sum from its operations, its EBITDA margin and ROCE improved to -951.69% and -85.40% respectively. On a unit level, the Bengaluru-based startup spent Rs 12.9 to earn a rupee of operating revenue in FY22.
Fi has raised around $147 million to date including $72 million in its ongoing Series C round and was valued in the range of $520-550 million after the last tranche in July 2022. The company competes with the likes of Jupiter, Open, Niyo, P10, and InstantPay in the consumer-focused neo-banking space.
The high cash burn in the neo banking space has effectively shut the door on any new entrants, without quite showing a way for the existing players to build a sustainable business. With a 100% online model, neo banks also face the prospect of competing in a market where regular banking penetration has improved manifold since 2014, ironically, making it tougher for them to carve a space in the market. We believe the time for consolidation is here.