Digital India Starts Gaining on China as Dozens of Tech Companies Hit “Unicorn” Valuations

A complicated year for Bharat (and the World) has moved consumer masses definitely online. Desi tech startups have benefitted ably, meeting dynamic demand trends and attracting sizeable new investments. With billion-dollar companies on the rise, the Union is now able to position itself as a direct competitor to China’s digital dominance.

Years of public and private investment into technological know-how and IT competence across India are beginning to pay off in a spectacular manner. The nation is emerging as a main challenger to China’s technological leadership, particularly in online services and hybrid digital technological solutions.

A growing number of companies in the online and digital segments have been receiving valuations of above $ 1 billion. Achieving such “unicorn” status for many of these startups has come after the pandemic encouraged a definitive transition online of a number of services and market segments.

Industries and services like personal finances (fintech), e-commerce, entertainment and online lottery India have been growing rapidly over the Web and in the eyes of investors. A somewhat forced transition, it has proven powerful enough to redefine consumer trends and digitize traditional needs.

Contemporary online customer habits have also influenced the concept of market segmentation. A gaming industry study shared by ENV Media reveals some of the main factors shaping demands, volumes and trends in online entertainment and mobile gaming has increased, primarily driven by off-shore casinos like

Levels of overall development, income and local (social) emphasizes the importance of India’s leading 6-8 major urban areas in creating sustainable business ecosystems. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Koltata but also Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad – to name the top performers – make up the majority of all Indian online lottery and casino players.

Put simply, Bharat’s young and tech-savvy population is capable of swaying online demand and market trends, including by turning certain popular companies into financial success stories within a few months’ time.

Technology startups worth over a billion USD seem not to be rare anymore, despite the “unicorn” label. India is rapidly closing the gap to its more developed neighbor in this aspect – private startups reaching such a valuation over the past year (15 compared to 16) and since the start of 2021 alone (10 compared to only 2 new Chinese in the YTD.)

In this climate, investor interest in desi tech startups is higher than ever before. The impacts of the pandemic on daily social and economic functions have promoted an almost instant and universal adoption of digital services. Yet, it is also true that the above investor demand is proportionately higher than actual supply of quality digital businesses.

However, a number of existing companies and new tech startups are providing a healthy framework that is more than capable of supporting the “new normal” of digital entrepreneurship. Prime examples of such new market leaders are found in fintech (CRED and Digit Insurance as leading unicorn new entries), e-commerce (Meesho), social media (ShareChat) or health tech (API Holdings).

Investors are hoping they can keep the momentum and grow despite health and geopolitical concerns. The good news is that for big and small companies alike – including freelancers and self-starters – offering goods and services online is a must. When unable to channel them through dedicated platforms, they simply sell on Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram.

China still tops Asian rankings with 138 unicorns overall. The sheer size of some is impressive – Bytedance (operating TikTok) is valued at $140 billion. Yet, the growing monthly transaction volumes of India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI, 5 trillion rupees ~ $ 68 billion) show that the online market is still under its full potential.

The spread of affordable smartphones and data packages, added to Bharat’s over 750 million active online users, are sufficient reasons to believe that the nation’s digital economy is starting to close the gap to its neighbor.

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