Pine Labs Success Story - How it is Leading Financing, Retail Transactions, and Technology?

Anik Banerjee Anik Banerjee Sarika Anand Sarika Anand
Jun 23, 2022 16 min read
Pine Labs Success Story - How it
is Leading Financing, Retail Transactions, and Technology?

Company Profile is an initiative by StartupTalky to publish verified information on different startups and organizations. The content in this post has been approved by Pine Labs.

The payment was an area marred with currencies, chaos, and uncertainties. This ushered in the ATM facilities and the ATM-cum debit cards for banking customers. However, even after ATMs came into being in India, the effective usage of cards in the physical shops and for other merchants was still fraught with numerous concerns. To mitigate these, Pine Labs was established.

Founded in 1998 as a simple card-based payment and loyalty program, Pine Labs now stands as an Indian merchant platform company to extend financing and last-mile retail transaction technology for the merchants and its customers.

However, it was in 2009 that Pine labs' real payments journey began when it ventured into the mainstream payments space and decided to provide solutions to the merchants by connecting to banks and other financial services with the all-new Pine Labs PoS machines. The company was acutely aware that merchants were seeking solutions to enhance their engagement with customers during the payment process. So, it began partnering with banks and payment aggregators and ensured its PoS machines could process all forms of digital payments.

Pine Labs currently provides merchant platform supports and makes software for point of sale (PoS) machines. The company currently boasts of having more than 70,000 retailers in India including biggies like Mark's and Spencer's Retail, Pantaloons, Westside, and more. It is also a unicorn, which joined the coveted club of Indian unicorns in the month of January in 2020 by raising an undisclosed amount from the American multinational company, Mastercard, thus becoming the first Indian unicorn startup in 2020 to emerge as a unicorn.

StartupTalky covers the full journey that Pine Labs witnessed including all the information about the company, its Founders and Team, Name, Tagline and Logo, Mission and Vision, Business and Revenue Model, Challenges, Startup Story, Competitors, Funding and Investors, and more.

Pine Labs - Company Highlights

Startup Name Pine Labs Pvt. Ltd.
Headquarters Noida, India
Industry Fintech
Founded 1998
Founders Lokvir Kapoor, Rajul Garg, Tarun Upadhyay
CEO Amrish Rau
Total Funding $1.2 bn (April 2022)
Valuation $5 bn+ (February 2022)
Revenue $94.14 mn (Rs 701.62 crore in FY20)
Website www.pinelabs.com

Pine Labs - About and How it Works?
Pine Labs - Name, Tagline, Logo and its Meaning
Pine Labs - Startup Story
Pine Labs - Founders and Team
Pine Labs - Mission and Vision
Pine Labs - Products and Services
Pine Labs - Business and Revenue Model
Pine Labs - Revenue and Growth
Pine Labs - Funding and Investors
Pine Labs - ESOPs
Pine Labs - IPO
Pine Labs - Acquisitions
Pine Labs - Partnerships
Pine Labs - Awards and Achievements
Pine Labs - Competitors
Pine Labs - Challenges Faced
Pine Labs - Future Plans

Pine Labs - About and How it Works?

Pine Labs is an Indian merchant platform company that provides financing and last-mile retail transaction technology founded in 1998.

Every day merchants use Pine Labs PoS machines to increase revenue whilst reducing costs, complexity, and risks. This gives Pine Labs a unique opportunity to participate in their growth journey. It focuses on the merchants’ needs, revenue generation strategies, last-mile retail transaction technologies, data analysis, and experiences for their shoppers and customers. The company offers a full-stack merchant platform that is a unique blend of technology and financial solutions.

Pine Labs' solutions, which are used by merchants from diverse sectors, are now used by over 100,000 merchants in India, and several other Asian countries. In India alone, the company’s cloud-based platform powers over 350,000 PoS in over 3,700 towns.


Pine Labs - Name, Tagline, Logo and its Meaning

Pine Labs is driven by the tagline "We make your business future-positive."

The logo has a bright green double arrow symbol pointed Northeast and denotes growth, prosperity and optimism.

Pine Labs Company Logo
Pine Labs Company Logo

Pine Labs - Startup Story

In the beginning, the company's focus was clearly on large-scale, smart, card-based payment and loyalty solutions for the retail petroleum industry. It was in 2009 that the real payments journey of the company began when it ventured into the mainstream payments space to provide solutions with its PoS machines to merchants, connecting them to banks and other financial services. The company partnered with banks and payment aggregators and ensured that its machines could process all forms of digital payments.

By 2012, Pine Labs had redefined its payment technology offerings and grown into a company that pioneered the smart, cloud-based unified point-of-sale platform, designed to reduce costs and drive revenues for retailers. Its alliances with top banks and brands gave the company the ability to offer multiple services to the merchant through its platform.

Thus, it evolved into a merchant platform that encompasses solutions around payments, risk assessment, multi-channel analytics, merchant lending and insurance, brand offers, cashback, integrated billing, and more. It currently boasts of a network of over 21 financial services institutions and 100 brands.

The year 2017 saw Pine Labs lay its first global footprint when it entered Malaysia with an exclusive partnership with CIMB Bank. And today, Pine Labs is well into building the world’s most robust merchant platform that brings together technology and financial solutions to meet every need of the modern merchant.


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Pine Labs - Founders and Team

The founders of Pine Labs are Lokvir Kapoor, Rajul Garg, and Tarun Upadhyay.

Lokvir Kapoor

Lokvir Kapoor is recognized as the Executive Chairman and Co-founder of Pine Labs. Kapoor is an IIT Kanpur alumnus from where he obtained a BTech in Mechanical Engineering. He eventually went to complete an MBA from IIM Bangalore. Lokvir previously worked with Schlumberger in the areas of financial management and business development in India and abroad before he co-founded Pine Labs in 1998.

Lokvir Kapoor, Founder Pine Labs

Rajul Garg

Currently known as the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Leo Capital Holdings, Rajul Garg has been the Co-founder of Pine Labs and also served as the CEO of the company for over 5 years post which he remained as the Board member for more than 4 years. Leaving the company Rajul co-founded GlobalLogic where he served as the Co-founder and COO and SVP. Garg then became a Consultant and Angel Investor for a considerable amount of time. Sunstone Eduversity was another company that Rajul co-founded. He was also the CEO of the company. Rajul Garg has a Btech in Computer Science from IIT Delhi.

Rajul Garg, Founder Pine Labs

Tarun Upadhyay

Tarun Upadhyay was a Co-founder and CTO at Pine Labs. Upadhyay has an integrated Msc. in Mathematics and Computer Applications from IIT Delhi. Tarun has a streak of co-founding companies including GlobalLogic, hCentive, and Gallop.ai in most of which he served as the co-founder and CTO except in Gallop.ai, where Tarun was appointed as the CEO.

Tarun Upadhyay, Founder Pine Labs

Amrish Rau is currently the CEO of Pine Labs. He assumed his office with the Noida-based fintech unicorn in March 2020. He has previous experiences of being a CEO in First Data and Payu India.    

Amrish Rau, CEO Pine Labs

Pine Labs has a company size of 1001-5000 employees.

Pine Labs - Mission and Vision

Pine Labs' mission statement says, "Maniacal focus on creating a product and services platform that widens access and accelerates commerce for merchants in each local market we operate in."

"We believe that every business can grow exponentially with technology and capital" goes the vision statement of Pine labs.

Pine Labs - Products and Services

The company provides mobile point of sale (PoS) machines that allow merchants to accept credit and debit card payments. Some offerings of Pine Labs include Instant EMI, Instant Discounts, Cashback Programs, PaybyPoints, Loyalty Solutions, e-Wallet, Targeted Promotions, Dynamic Currency Conversion, and Gift Solution.

Pine Labs announced the launch of the merchant commerce platform Plural on October 14, 2021, with which the company forayed into the payment gateway business. This sets Pine Labs as a direct competitor against companies like Razorpay, PayU-Billdesk, CCAvenue, and Paytm. Plural Gateway, Plural Checkout, and Plural Console are the 3 products that the company launched with an aim to serve its merchant base of over 5 lakhs. These products can be defined as:

  • Plural Gateway - Plural Gateway will help the merchants avail of a single payment dashboard for different kinds of payments, including Unified Payments Interface (UPI), credit and debit cards.
  • Plural Checkout - Plural Checkout serves as a Mobile SDK (Software Development Kit), which aims to boost the performance of the payment gateways for Android and iOS users.
  • Plural Console - Designed as a Payment Orchestration Platform (POP), Plural Console will offer a single tech framework to trigger transactions via multiple payment gateways, as mentioned by the company in a press statement.

Pine Labs - Business and Revenue Model

After two decades of working closely with merchants, Pine Labs now help merchants sell more, grow more, and build more with greater efficiency. It serves the merchants’ omnichannel needs. By leveraging technology and domain expertise, it caters to merchants of all sizes helping them to thrive in the changing global marketplace.

The Pine Labs business model is altered as per its merchants' needs. The payments unicorn introduced advanced, cloud-based point-of-sale (PoS) machines that enhanced its engagement with customers during the payment process. Pine Labs has restructured the payment technology space whilst contributing hand in hand to the world's digital economy as well. It is also credited as one of the oldest fintech companies in India.

Pine labs depend heavily on the sale of its products, like the POS payments devices. Furthermore, it also gains commissions from the sale of its services. The company through the income it gets from the interest on fixed deposits and current investments.    

Pine Labs - Revenue and Growth

Pine Labs has a network of over 150K merchants across 3700+ cities in India and Malaysia.

Transactions on Pine Labs machine can be initiated by cards, QR codes, or phone number billing. The company also offers working capital loans, loyalty services via PinePerks, etc. Pine Labs have always lead the PoS business, and have provided card swiping terminals to merchants. In order to expand its set of offerings, Pine Labs is currently developing Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), invoice management, gifting, and ecommerce solutions.  

Some of its partners include Apple, Google Pay, Samsung, Sony, etc. The company has raised $310.8 Million from investors such as Sequoia India, PayPal, Temasek, Actis Capital, Altimeter Capital, Madison India Capital, and Sofina.

Pine Labs Finances

In terms of financial performance, after the pivot in 2014, the company had first posted profits in FY17. However, with the increasing costs of growth in terms of expenses, it couldn’t maintain profitability and Pine Labs slipped to losses for the years ahead and is currently wanting to curb its losses and scale.

Importantly, Pine Labs has increased its revenue Y-o-Y throughout the years. The revenue, which stood at Rs 195.16 crore in FY17, was last reported to be around Rs 800 crore in FY21.

Pine Labs growing revenue FY17-FY21

Here are some of the growth statistics of the company at a glance:

  • It is one of the oldest fintech companies in India
  • It boasts of having around 140,000 merchants in India and other Asian countries
  • Pine Labs platform powers over 350,000 PoS terminals in India across 3,700 cities and towns in India anMalaysia
  • It has more than 70,000 retailers across India
  • Pine Labs has partnerships with more than 15 major banks, 7 financial institutions and more than 100 brands are a part of Pine Lab’s platform that processes payments of around $30 Bn each year

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Pine Labs - Funding and Investors

Pine Labs has seen 13 rounds of funding in total and has received nearly $1.2 bn in funding to date. Pine Labs is currently valued at over $5 Billion. The total valuation of the company had shot up to $3 billion after the $600 mn funding round that came on July 6, 2021, from Blackrock and Fidelity. Pine Labs' valuation increased to $3.5 bn, as reported on January 4, 2022.

The last round of Pine Labs funding was worth $50 mn, led by Vitruvian Partners, which it received on March 29, 2022. The previous round was of $150 mn, which was led by Alpha Wave Global on February 18, 2022.

The fintech giant raised 3 rounds in the past year including the $100 mn round from Invesco and the massive July 6, 2021 round led by Fidelity, BlackRock, and others when it raised $600M. It has also raised $20 mn from the country's largest commercial bank, SBI.

Pine Labs turned into an Indian unicorn company on January 25, 2020, thereby becoming India's first unicorn in 2020 after it received an undisclosed amount from Mastercard in the month of January the same year. Here's a look at the prominent Pine Labs funding rounds and how they were executed:

Date Round Amount Lead Investors
March 29, 2022 Private Equity Round $50M Vitruvian Partners
February 18, 2022 Secondary Round $150M Alpha Wava Global
January 4, 2022 Corporate Round $20M SBI
September 16, 2021 Venture Round $100M Invesco Developing Markets Fund
July 6, 2021 - $600M Fidelity Management & Research Co. and BlackRock Inc. and others
May 17, 2021 Venture Round $285M Baron Capital Group, Duro Capital, Marshall Wace, Moore Strategic Ventures and Ward Ferry Management and other existing investors
December 21, 2020 Secondary Market - Lone Pine Capital
Jan 24, 2020 Corporate Round - Mastercard
May 31, 2018 Secondary Market $125M PayPal Ventures, Temasek Holdings
Mar 13, 2018 Private Equity Round $22M Actis
Jul 29, 2017 Corporate Round $99M Flipkart
Apr 20, 2017 Secondary Market - Madison India Capital
Mar 25, 2009 Seed Round $1M Sequoia Capital India

Pine Labs - ESOPs

Pine Labs has officially announced its ESOP buyback plan worth Rs 100 cr. Amrish Rau, the CEO, and Co-founder of the company took to Twitter to express his happiness. Here goes his Twitter post:  

The company has again announced the buyback of its shares via the initiation of a buyback program worth $6.07 mn. As per reports dated April 12, 2022, Pine Labs' board has approved the buyback of its shares from five executives including the CEO Amrish Rau. Kumar Sudarsan, Kush Mehra, Dev Anand Sharma, and Rakesh Sharma are the other key executives among the mentioned batch, which the company filed in its regulatory filings in Singapore.

The biggest beneficiary of the buyback program is Amrish Rau, who offloaded shares worth $1.92 million. Kumar Sudarsan, the Co-founder of Qwikcilver, the company that Pine Labs acquired in a deal worth $110 mn in April 2019, is the next in line, who sold shares worth $1.75 million.

Pine Labs - IPO

Pine Labs has already passed a resolution according to the regulatory filings, where it has decided to convert its Singapore-based holding entity from private to public. The company has been renamed Pine Labs Limited from Pine labs Pte to start preparing for its upcoming IPO. Pine Labs is eyeing its US listing within the next 10-12 months. The company is estimated to raise its valuation to $5 billion in the potential IPO ahead. The IPO of Pine Labs is estimated to be around $1 bn in 2022.

The new reports dated January 10, 2022 state that Pine Labs' preparation for its upcoming US listing is on, where the company will be raising about $500 mn (down from the $1 bn reported previously) at a valuation of $5-7 bn. The plans of the Pine Labs IPO are still on in February 2022, where the company is planning to list in the US exchange at a valuation of $6-7 billion in the IPO.

Pine Labs - Acquisitions

Pine Labs has acquired 5 companies to date. Pine Labs last acquired Setu on June 23, 2022, in a deal worth $70 mn. Setu currently provides payments, data, investments and lending via its APIs after the expansion of its offerings. After the acquisition, as per the deal, Setu will continue to run independently.

Pine Labs previously acquired the Mumbai-based online payments startup, Qfix Infocomm on February 8, 2022. This acquisition will help its parent with the recently launched Plural platform. After this, Pine Labs has recently acquired a majority stake in Mosambee on April 13, 2022, for an undisclosed sum. This investment will increase the valuation of the acquired company by $100 mn. Post the acquisition, the Mosambee team is deemed to operate independently.  

The company is currently in talks with Setu, a fintech infrastructure company that is backed by Lightspeed for an upcoming acquisition.

Pine Labs has acquired gift solution provider, QwikCilver Solutions on Mar 19, 2019, for $110 million. The Fintech platform from Southeast Asia, Fave was acquired by Pine Labs in a deal worth $45 million on April 13, 2021.

Here's a list of the Pine Labs acquisitions to date:

Name of the Acquired Company Acquired Date Amount
Setu June 23, 2022 $70 mn
Mosambee April 13, 2022 -
Qfix Infocomm February 8, 2022 -
Fave April 13, 2021 $45 mn
QwikCilver Solutions March 19, 2019 $110 mn

Pine Labs - Partnerships

Out of several partnerships, here is a list of some of the prominent partnerships of Pine Labs throughout the years:  

  • Pine Labs collaborated with Kotak Mahindra bank to scale up its merchant acquiring and point of sale systems  
  • The fintech company collaborated with OneCard in September 13, 2021, to enable the EMI options at POS for its customers
  • Pine Labs announced its partnership on July 22, 2020, with Fave with an aim to expand cashless payment solutions to offline SMEs and enterprises to accelerate digitization
  • Pine Labs entered the Malaysian market with an exclusive partnership with CIMB Bank in 2017, which asserted its first global footprint

Pine Labs - Competitors

Pine Labs Top Competitors are:

  • PayPal
  • PayKun
  • Stripe Connect
  • Payoneer
  • Apple Pay
  • GoCardless
  • Authorize.Net
  • Thryv
  • BlueSnap

Pine Labs - Awards and Achievements

Pine Labs won a list of awards in all these years it has been active:

  • It won the India Fintech Forum’s IFTA 2021 Award for the “Most Innovative Fintech Product” in November 2021
  • The AllTap #WarriorsAtWork campaign of Pine Labs obtained the award for ‘Best Fintech Marketing Campaign’ at CMO Asia, 2021
  • Pine Labs was announced the winner of the ‘Best Digital API’ award in the category of Best Technology Solutions at the 11th India Digital Awards conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)
  • Pine Labs won a payment and fintech award in the category of Best Payment Technology/Solution provider at the 10th India Digital Awards in February 2020. This award was awarded to Pine Labs for enabling the EMI feature on its Android PoS
  • Sanjeev Kumar, Chief Technology Officer, Pine Labs, won the Change Agents 2019 award in December 2019 at CIO500 Conclave & Awards 2019, conducted by Enterprise IT World
  • Pine Labs won the 2019 Indian Merchant Platform Customer Value Leadership Award at the Frost & Sullivan - 2019 India Best Practices Awards in October 2019

Pine Labs - Challenges Faced

India’s digital payments growth story has grabbed several eyeballs from international agencies as well as tech giants. From revolutionizing the use of QR codes to Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to enabling point-of-sale via mobile-like devices etc, the innovation in the Indian digital payments industry has awed the world.

While most of these innovative and disruptive ideas haven’t reaped profits, but point-of-sale (PoS) player Pine Labs did in 2017. This, however, is not the case anymore. Being one of the few Indian startups generating profits in FY17, the company spiraled into losses back in FY18. Continuing the trend in FY19 results, Pine Labs reported a net loss of INR 13.5 Cr for the year, as against INR 2.5 Cr net loss in FY18. Though Pine labs swung back to profits and happen to be one of the few companies in FY17 that brought in profits,  the company again turned into a loss-making company when last recorded in 2021.


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Pine Labs - Future Plans

Digital retail payments platform Pine Labs is gearing up for the next phase of its journey. It is planning to bring in the latest solutions that aim at proving a better customer experience, foray into new markets and categories, and eventually go for an initial public offering (IPO) in the next 18 months. The public listing of the company is estimated to be worth around $1 bn. Furthermore, the company is also eyeing its NASDAQ stock market listing this year, as of January 2022's reports. The company has already hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs as advisors ahead of its listing.

In the next couple of years, the Noida-based firm is also expecting the total payment volume (TPV) on its transactions to rise more than four-fold to $100 billion from $23 billion.

That would put Pine Labs in the league of US-based financial and merchant services firm Square Inc, whose gross payment volume in the most recent fiscal period amounted to $84.65 billion, up from $65.35 billion in 2017, according to data platform Statista.

“I think for the last 18 months, we are taking the journey of becoming a platform company,” said Bindra, who before joining Pine Labs in 2015 led Visa’s global product and solutions group in San Francisco.

In the next phase, Pine Labs is getting into providing loans to merchants in partnerships with banks as well as NBFCs and package other services such as insurance with it. It will also provide goods and services tax (GST) payments on behalf of these merchants.

FAQs

What is Pine Labs?

Pine Labs is an Indian merchant platform company that provides financing and last-mile retail transaction technology.

What is hardware ID in Pine Labs?

The Hardware ID is a unique identification number for your machine. To activate your license, you will need to provide this number.

How does Pine Labs make money?

Pine Labs earns its revenue by the sale and leasing of its devices, via the services it offers, and through the interest that it receives on fixed deposits and current investments.

How does Pine Labs work?

Pine Labs is an Indian merchant platform company that provides financing and last-mile retail transaction technology, founded in 1998. The company has more than 70,000 retailers across India, including major retail outlets such as Mark's and Spencer's Retail, Pantaloons, Shoppers Stop, and Westside.

What is Pine Labs' valuation?

The Pine Labs valuation was last estimated to be over $5 bn in February 2022.

How are Pine Labs acquisitions?

Looking at Pine Labs' acquisition we can find that the company has acquired 5 companies to date, out of which 3 of the acquisitions came in 2022 itself.  

How is the Pine Labs funding?

In terms of Pine Labs funding, the Singapore-registered company has seen 13 funding rounds so far equalling $1.2 billion in funding.

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