Zeta becomes a unicorn with $250 million SoftBank-led funding

Zeta, a startup that helps banks and fintech firms launch products, is the newest to attain the coveted unicorn status after closing a new financing round.

The embedded finance firm, co-founded by veteran Indian entrepreneur Bhavin Turakhia, said on Monday it has raised $250 million in its Series D round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, confirming a TechCrunch report from mid-April. Existing investor Sodexo also participated in the round.

The new round valued the startup, which has offices in Bangalore and Dubai, at $1.45 billion, Turakhia said. That’s up from the $300 million valuation that Zeta reported in the second half of 2019.

Zeta has developed a technology stack that helps it engage with both banks, fintech startups, as well as other online consumer platforms. The thesis is that banks — largely operating on antiquated technologies — today don’t have the time and expertise to offer the best experience to hundreds of millions of customers and fintech firms they serve.

Banks, which have licenses to offer financial services to customers, use Zeta’s cloud-native API and SDKs to launch credit cards and debit cards and offer improved experience to customers, and also work with fintechs.

The startup today serves 10 banks and 25 fintech firms, and plans to deploy the fresh capital to reach more clients and increase its headcount.

Zeta is SoftBank Vision Fund 2’s latest investment in India. The Japanese conglomerate, which minted another unicorn in social commerce Meesho last month, is in advanced stages of talks to invest up to $500 million in food delivery giant Swiggy and is also engaging with SaaS startup WhatFix.

“Banking software is a $300 billion industry globally. Most banks still employ technology which is significantly older than their customers, impacting user experience and engagement,” Munish Varma, a managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, said in a statement.

More to follow later today…