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Common Service Centre eyes IPO


NEW DELHI: It calls itself a government-promoted company not many are aware of, and generates roughly over Rs 6,000 crore worth of financial transactions every month, including by facilitating personal banking settlements. The Common Service Centre (CSC) — which operates around 4.5 lakh digital-enablement, retail and e-commerce shops across the hinterland that are privately managed by third-party non-government partners called ‘village-level entrepreneurs or VLEs — generated transactions worth nearly Rs 59,000 crore in 2020-21, and is on its way to cross Rs 70,000 crore this fiscal, CEO Dinesh Tyagi has said. Initially started as an outreach platform for furthering digital initiatives and rolling out government programmes across the rural belts and small towns, the CSC units are fast turning into a platform that is being accessed by top banking and insurance companies such as HDFC (a shareholder), FMCG companies such as Adani Wilmar, Pepsi and Coke, and even auto makers like Tata Motors and Renault. Buoyed by the rapid growth in transactions, CSC is now aiming to tap the capital markets and raise funds through the IPO route, Tyagi said, touting the company as a platform with the strongest reach across rural India. “While no confirmed valuations have been arrived at just yet, we should easily have a unicorn status, and be a billion-dollar-plus company,” Tyagi told TOI, adding that the fund-raise in likely to happen by March next year. “Funds would be used to support our expansion, set up a corporate office, and expand the CSC infrastructure.” CSC currently is a government-controlled unit under the IT ministry, according to Tyagi who adds that the central government has only one ‘golden share’ in the entity, giving it effective control. CSC was set up around 2006, and has expanded from 80,000 centres around the middle of 2014 to over 4.5 lakh units.


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