BharatPe on Tuesday announced that it has received in-principle authorisation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to operate as an online payment aggregator.

The fintech firm said the in-principle approval has been awarded to Resilient Payments Private Ltd, a 100% owned subsidiary of Resilient Innovations Private Ltd (BharatPe).

"This in-principle approval will help catapult our expansion plans and enable us to reach out to millions of more unbanked and underserved merchants, provide digital payment acceptance solutions and in turn, get them to be a part of the Digital India story," says Nalin Negi, chief financial officer and interim CEO, BharatPe.

The final authorisation is subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, the company says, adding it will now commence work on fulfilling the said conditions within the prescribed timeline and launch its online PA business upon the receipt of the final authorisation from the RBI.

Founded in 2018, BharatPe currently caters to offline merchants and kirana store owners in the country. It claims to have a network of 1 crore merchants across over 400 cities.

The development comes days after Suhail Sameer stepped down as BharatPe CEO to become a strategic adviser with effect January 7, 2023.

Negi, who was appointed as the interim CEO following Sameer's exit, joined BharatPe in August as chief financial officer. He has over 28 years of experience and the last 15 years of that has been in banking and financial services, having worked at companies like GE Capital and SBI Card. Negi was the CFO of SBI Card for over 10 years, where he spearheaded strategic initiatives, including leading SBI Card's IPO in March 2020.

Meanwhile, the BharatPe board has retained an executive search firm to assist with succession planning and the critical CEO search, the company said last week.

"We have recognized the need to dedicate time and resources to finding the leader who will continue to catapult BharatPe to new heights, and we are grateful for the commitment from Suhail and Nalin. We look forward to supporting Nalin Negi in his role as the interim-CEO, as we move ahead in our mission of empowering millions of MSMEs with a range of world-class financial products," said Rajnish Kumar, chairman, BharatPe board.

Last year, the fintech unicorn initiated civil and criminal action against Ashneer Grover, BharatPe's now-ousted co-founder, his wife Madhuri Jain Grover, who was the company's former head of controls, and Grovers' relatives in relation to the misappropriation of company funds.

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