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Walmart pumps $200 million in Indian fintech PhonePe in ongoing fundraise

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows Walmart logo

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian digital payments firm PhonePe said on Friday it has raised $200 million from majority backer Walmart Inc at a pre-money valuation of $12 billion.

PhonePe, already India's most valuable payments firm and among the country's most highly-valued startups, said the investment is part of its ongoing fundraise of up to $1 billion.

It has raised $350 million from private equity firm General Atlantic and $100 million from Ribbit Capital, Tiger Global and TVS Capital Funds in the past two months, at the same $12 billion valuation.

American retail behemoth Walmart, which acquired a majority share in PhonePe in 2018, will continue as a majority investor, the Indian company said, without disclosing its stake.

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Despite a funding winter, the Indian digital payments space has been a bright spot due to the popularity of online payments and startups' ambitions to branch into the lucrative financial services space.

PhonePe said it plans to deploy these funds to build and scale new businesses including insurance, wealth management and lending.

PhonePe separated from Indian e-commerce giant Flipkart late last year, when it also shifted its registered headquarters from Singapore to India, with Walmart picking up the nearly $1 billion tax bill for the move.

The relocation, according to some reports, was to ensure an easier entry into the country's highly-regulated financial services industry, especially lending.

(Reporting by Meenakshi Maidas in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)