It is interesting how different has been the journey of two online financial marketplaces that took birth in the chaotic backdrop of the financial meltdown in 2008. They have thrived with different investors; at a great variance they stand in valuation, too.
Gurugram-headquartered PolicyBazaar.com, owned by Etechaces Marketing and Consulting, joined the unicorn club after Japanese investment bank SoftBank through its Vision Fund led a $200 million growth investment round valuing it at a billion dollars on Monday. Since its inception on June 14, 2008, in Haryana, PolicyBazaar has grown to become a leading insurance aggregator which offers comparative analysis of variety of insurance products based on their price, features and benefits.
Welcoming the newest investor, Yashish Dahiya, PolicyBazaar’s co-founder and chief executive, said in a statement: “SoftBank’s culture of backing disruptive businesses and industry leaders with long-term capital investment gels well with our own values and vision of creating a transparent and empowering financial products marketplace.”
According to Crunchbase, PolicyBazaar, which ranks 527th in its database, took an aggregate investment of $346.6 million through thirteen investors to reach the billion dollar valuation in seven years, from May 2011 to May 2018.
A few months before PolicyBazaar set up shop, A&A Dukaan Financial Services, which owns BankBazaar.com, was incorporated in Chennai in February 2008. BankBazaar’s business model revolves around helping consumers compare banking products such as credit cards, loans, and investment products such as mutual funds and insurance. And insurance, too.
Crunchbase, which ranks BankBazaar at 1,616 on their database, shows that the online financial marketplace co-founded by Adhil Shetty, Arjun Shetty and Rati Shetty (all three are related) took four rounds of funding adding up to $ 109 million from March 2011 to October 2017 from a total of six investors.
Interestingly, BankBazaar recorded 90 million visitors in the quarter ended March 2018, and expects to clock 400 million visitors in the current fiscal ending March 2019. In contrast, PolicyBazaar reportedly hosts 100 million visitors on an annual basis and records 300,000 transactions every month.
Yet, PolicyBazaar has raised 3.17 times more funds than BankBazaar. While BankBazaar was valued at $300 million around its last fundraising in October 2017, when UK-based Experian—the global leader in credit reporting and information management—led the $30 million growth round. Coincidentally, PolicyBazaar had also raised $77 million in the same month (and, the gap between dates of the announcements is just three days) when its total funding added up to $146.6 million ($37.6 million higher than BankBazaar's $ 109 million).
One wonders, was it the nature of the business that opened the doors of the unicorn club to just one of these two businesses that was set up around the same time? If one looks at consumers’ cash-flow, facilitating the sale of insurance is no different from selling consumer loan products. The consumer is contractually bound to pay a fixed amount of money for a fixed duration. However, the big difference is the outcome of such cash outgoes. While loans help fulfil aspirations of the borrower, insurance provides financial security to the insurance buyer and his loved ones. Peace of mind is precious. So, does that reflect in the valuations commanded by these two online financial marketplaces? Security is more valuable than aspiration, it seems.