Where once, words like lending, borrowing and loans belonged to the confined walls of a bank, these terms have now grown to the unconfined boundaries of technology.

Fintech i.e. Financial Technology is a term used to describe technology disruptive start-ups that are changing the way traditional financial services are carried out. Any app that you use for availing financial services all fall under the Fintech ambit, whether you’re talking about digital wallets or robo-advisors. Even lending has transformed significantly thanks to Fintech!

This means one can safely bid adieu to long queues, heavy paperwork, continuous rejection and slower procedures when it comes to borrowing loans. Fintech makes use of big data, cloud and digital technologies to acquire, retain, underwrite and monitor customer’s behaviour at greater, efficient speeds and at betters costs and accuracy.

Abhishek Kothari [Founder of Indian digital lending platform FlexiLoans] in his article in VCCIRCLE has thrown light on how Tech & Data has driven the fintech lending space in India

Tech: With cloud-based IaaS [Information-As-a-Service] models and API [Application Programming Interface] banking gaining rapid adoption, it is now possible to have the stack ready with minimal capital expenditure. In fact, technology has been a great asset for companies across the globe to gain speed to market and grow as fast as the more established counterparts in other countries. In many countries, disbursing and collecting installments has been made possible through seamless banking integration but India is yet to see a mature solution around it. UPI is a step in the right direction but still needs a lot of work before lenders can use it.

Data: Alternative finance hinges on the availability of newer data sources to make risk decisions. More data allow informed decision making and lending to segments which were otherwise underserved. On this metric, countries like the US, UK and China have been far ahead because of connected data sources like bank accounts, companies database, tax data, etc. while India lags behind as many data sources are still inaccessible [e.g., litigation database], insufficient [e.g., bureau penetration] or inaccurate [e.g., business ratings]. However, the government has put huge focus on this and programmes like UIDAI and IndiaStack are enabling this at a good pace.

He’s also spoken about the unique problems faced by Indian retailers and how Fintech has helped overcome some of them

Fintech lending platforms provides credit to small segments

According to him small Indian businesses are really unique and in the absence of government aid they fall back on the informal sector for funding. That’s why fintech companies in India try to innovate on the acquisition model to provide finance to this segment. They use partnership models wherein they either partner with e-commerce platforms for borrowers or offline retailers through point of sale providers.

Fintech solves the problem to identify risk of borrower

But, after the acquisition, the bigger problem is assessing the borrower’s risk of default. That’s where the ‘alternate lending’ methodology helps. Because of a thin credit file or sparse financials in this segment, new-age lenders have developed innovative data science-led approaches to solve this problem. Various sources like social sites, device data, digital footprint, seller reviews, etc. are being used to develop surrogate yet highly correlated indexes that can potentially replace or enrich traditional models.

They solve the problem to provide credit at low costs

Another problem banks face is the difficulty to carer to small business segments. These segments want quick, unsecured, small-value loans but because of the cost-heavy branch-based operating model, it is sometimes unviable for banks to lend small-value loans. New-age lenders have solved this very efficiently by using cutting-edge technology to bring the acquiring, processing and servicing cost down such that they are profitable for small value loans as well. This is really the birth of ‘digital lending’.

Collection of data is super useful to a company to understand the credit worthiness of a customer. Here’s how this data is collected

Suppose you opt for ‘Pay as EMI’ while online shopping, this information is captured and gives an insight on your payment history. According to one Fintech startup founder, “Someone has to look at a range of these financial, behavioural, and social attributes, make sense of them and make the data available to institutions in a manner that they can trust and use for lending.”

He believes that, “Most institutions are completely missing out on maximizing how they use old data, let aside new data and new insights. Alternative data may be the answer”.

He explains how sometimes the name and details on an Aadhaar card may not exactly match the one name on the PAN card. Location data might suggest that the person is living elsewhere. Or an individual may on paper be working with Company X, while social data suggests that they’ve already moved on to Company Y.

For a lender all these are extremely important and valuable pieces of information. If used they could significantly bring down default rates. He also throws light on how Mobile Data in India might not exactly be clean because of use and throw sim cards. But that’s when algorithms come into picture to counter this problem.

References1, 2, 3 and 4

The most popular questions in the technology world today is most definitely the one on whether Hashgraph is better than Blockchain. The life and credibility of the Blockchain is being questioned and Hashgraph is being predicted as the technology of the future.

Image Source – DLT

While it is difficult to predict whether Blockchain is a thing of the past and whether Hashgraph is the final answer, one thing is sure, Hashgraph definitely addresses a lot of the critical challenges that Blockchain has been grappling with, the challenge of speed of processing, the challenge of fairness, and the huge challenge of requiring multiple industry regulators to come together

Hashgraph can process 250000+ transactions per second as opposed to Blockchain’s 7 transactions per second.  Hashgraph is fast because it uses Gossip protocol to spread messages to the network and also performs some optimization of the gossiped messages to reduce the communication overhead.  One other reason behind this speed of Hashgraph is because Hashgraph today uses private, permissioned networks.

Coming to fairness, the main challenge of Blockchain is its dependence on miners.  There could be forking and delay because of the actions of the miners, who can manipulate the process.  Since Hashgraph is based on consensus and time stamping, it’s faster and more accurate.  The Virtual Voting Consensus Algorithm of Hashgraph, which was invented by Dr. Leemon Baird, makes it straightforward to know how a node would vote and this data can be used as an input to the voting algorithm and to find whichever transactions have reached consensus quickly, thus making it more fair.

According to me, one of the biggest challenge for Blockchain to be a commonly used technology, is the need for multiple industry regulators to come together and set regulations which will cut across industries. As I have said before also, a Blockchain, or for that matter any DLT is beneficial only when the chains are big or integrated to each other. While it’s not really a technical challenge, given the water tight compartments of today, it’s an enormous roadblock to overcome for a DLT. Hashgraph is planning to overcome or partially address that challenge by way of their 39-member council.  If run properly it will take care of enabling cross-industry discussions and regulations.

Added to this, Hashgraph’s security is also claimed to be better than that of Blockchain.  Hashgraph has been proven to be fully asynchronous Byzantine. This means that it doesn’t make any assumption about how fast messages are passed over the internet and this makes it resilient against DDoS attacks, botnets, and firewalls. While the security in Blockchain was never a challenge, the Byzantine Consensus of Hashgraph makes it stronger.

While Hashgraph does seem to have quite a few advantages over Blockchain, we cannot say that Blockchain is a thing of the past and Hashgraph is the new technology of the future.  I can only predict that Distributed Ledger Technology [DLT] is the way to go, but whether it will be Blockchain or Hashgraph or Tangle or any other DLT, only time can tell.  They are all evolving and evolving very fast.  As Distributed Ledger Technologies move beyond the POC stage to actual implementation stage, we will see even faster evolution.  So it’s very hard to predict which DLT is here to stay because tomorrow is truly another day!

About the author

Mohua Sengupta is the EVP & Global Head at Services at 3i Infotech Ltd. More details about her can be found here

By 2021, digital transformation will add an estimated US$154 billion to India’s GDP, and increase the growth rate by 1.0% annually, according to a new business study Unlocking the Economic Impact of Digital Transformation in Asia Pacific. The research was produced by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific.

Image Source – Digital Transformation

The study predicts a dramatic acceleration in the pace of digital transformation across India and Asia Pacific’s economies. In 2017, about 4% of India’s GDP was derived from digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies, such as mobility, cloud, Internet of Things [IoT], and artificial intelligence [AI].

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, said

India is clearly on the digital transformation fast track. Within the next four years, it is estimated that nearly 60% of India’s GDP will have a strong connection to the digital transformation trends. Organizations are increasingly deploying emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, and that will accelerate digital transformation led growth even further.

The survey conducted with 1,560 business decision makers in mid and large-sized organizations across 15 economies in the region highlights the rapid impact and widespread disruption that digital transformation is having on traditional business models. The study identified five key benefits from digital transformation.

According to the research findings, organizations are seeing significant and tangible improvements from their digital transformation efforts across these benefits in the range of 11% to 14% today. Business leaders expect to see more than 40% improvements in those key areas by 2020, with the biggest jump expected in productivity, customer advocacy as well as profit margin.

Digital Leaders in India to Gain Lion’s Share of Economic Opportunities

The study indicates that while 90% of organizations in India are in the midst of their digital transformation journey, only 7% in the entire region can be classified as Leaders. These are organizations that have full or progressing digital transformation strategies, with at least a third of their revenue derived from digital products and services. In addition, these companies are seeing between 20 – 30% improvements in benefits across various business areas from their initiatives.

The study indicates that Leaders experience double the benefits of Followers, and these improvements will be more pronounced by 2020. Almost half of Leaders [48%] have a full digital transformation strategy in place.

Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., one of India’s Leaders in Digital Transformation, said

Apollo Hospitals recognized the potential of technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics in providing high quality preventive healthcare services, very early on. With data being generated at an exponential proportion, technology is helping us derive insights to predict and suggest preventive steps with utmost accuracy. Our partnership with Microsoft bring us to the forefront of this remarkable metamorphosis that is allowing us to meet healthcare demand and maintain service excellence regardless of geography.

The Study identified key differences between Leaders and Followers, which contribute to the improvements tracked:

  • Leaders are more concerned about competitors and emergence of disruptive technologies – The digital economy has also given rise to new types of competitors, as well as emerging technologies such as AI that have contributed to the disruption of business models.
  • Business agility and culture of innovation are key goals – When addressing business concerns, Leaders are focused on creating a culture of agility and innovation to counter competition. Followers, on the other hand, are more focused on improving employee productivity and profitability.
  • Measuring digital transformation successes – Organizations across Asia Pacific are starting to adopt new Key Performance Indicators [KPI] to better measure their digital transformation initiatives, such as effectiveness of processes, data as a capital, and customer advocacy in the form of Net Promoter Score [NPS]. As organizations realize the potential of data as the new oil for the digital economy, Leaders are much more focused on leveraging data to grow revenue and productivity, and to transform business models.
  • Leaders are more aware of challenges in their digital transformation journeys – In addition to skills and cyber-security threats as key challenges, Leaders have also identified the need to bolster their data capabilities through the use of advanced analytics to develop actionable insights in fast-moving markets.
  • Leaders are looking to invest in AI and Internet of Things – Emerging technologies such as AI [including cognitive services and robotics] and IoT are areas where Leaders are investing in for 2018. Besides these emerging technologies, Leaders are also more interested in investing in big data analytics to mine data for actionable insights than others.
  • What sets Leaders apart from others are their ability to ride on the digital transformation wave from an organizational culture perspective. The study found that Leaders have these traits

Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D), said

There is a pressing need for organizations to fully capitalize on the potential value of digital transformation in the next few years. To do so, organizations need to invest in building their ecosystem, from employees, to customers, to partners, across their value chain by gaining new insights through new data sources, and incorporating digitization in their products and services.

Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help organizations in India to succeed in their digital transformation journeys today through our agile platforms and solutions that prioritize flexibility, integration and trust. We understand what organizations will need to make their journeys a successful one.

Riding the Wave of Digital Transformation

Organizations in Asia Pacific need to accelerate their digital transformation journey to reap the full benefits of their initiatives, and to address the invisible revolution brought about the mass adoption of AI. More importantly, companies need to focus on capitalizing their own data in order to gain new market insights, create new digital products and services, and monetize data through data sharing securely, and in collaboration with its ecosystem.

Daniel-Zoe Jimenez, Research Director Digital Transformation Practice Lead, IDC Asia/Pacific, said

The pace of digital transformation is accelerating, and IDC expects that by 2021, at least 60% of India’s GDP will be derived from digital products and services, with growth in every industry driven by digitally enhanced offerings, operations and relationships. The study shows Leaders seeing double the benefits of Followers, with improvements in productivity, cost reductions, and customer advocacy. To remain competitive, organizations must establish new metrics, realign organization structures, and re-architect their technology platform.

Microsoft recommends organizations to adopt the following strategies to become a digital transformation Leader

  1. Create a digital culture – An organization need to build a culture of collaboration where it is connected across business functions, and has a vibrant and mature ecosystem of customers and partners. Data can then be embraced across organization and functions, where better decisions can be made and ultimately serving the needs of customers and partners better.
  2. Build an information ecosystem – In a digital world, organizations are capture more volumes of data internally and externally. The key to becoming a Leader is for organizations to be able to convert data into capital assets, and enable data sharing and collaboration internally and externally in an open yet trusted manner. In addition, a proper data strategy will allow businesses to start their AI initiatives to identify connections, insights and trends.
  3. Embrace micro-revolutions – In most cases, digital transformation efforts do not start with widespread change, but a series of micro-revolutions. These are small, quick projects that deliver positive business outcomes and accrue to a bigger and bolder digital transformation initiatives.
  4. Develop Future Ready Skills for Individuals and Organizations – Organizations today must re-look at training and re-skilling its workforce so that workers are equipped with future ready skill sets such as complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity for the digital economy. More importantly, they need to re-balance the workforce to attain and attract key digital talents, as well as be open in creating a flexible work source model where they tap into skills-based marketplace. From a digital skills perspective,LinkedIn’s latest study outlines the ABCs of digital talents required for future economies in the region – artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing. In India, the top in-demand skills are big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing.

Reliance Jio and Sodexo, the leader in Employee Benefits announced the partnership to accelerate India’s digital transformation. Jio and Sodexo will leverage complementary strengths and offerings to create an enriched digital life ecosystem for Indians.

JioMoney, the PPI wallet offered by Jio Payments Bank Ltd., has enabled integration of Sodexo Meal Cards with a user’s JioMoney account to allow mobile-based payments via Sodexo Meal Card. The partnership will enable thousands of Sodexo Merchants like grocery shops, kiranas, restaurants and cafes across the country, to accept digital payments via Sodexo.

Sodexo’s proprietary meal benefit solution, Sodexo Meal Pass can be linked to the JioMoney App for making quick payments on-the-go. It will also be an added digital transaction option for JioMoney’s rapidly growing user-base across India. Consumers no longer have to carry the Sodexo’s physical card for the purchase of food and non-alcoholic beverages. They can simply add the Sodexo Meal Card balance to the JioMoney app and start transacting on-the-go. Jio and Sodexo will continue to work together to accelerate adoption of services offered by both the brands.

Speaking on the association, Anirban S Mukherjee, Business Head, JioMoney said

Jio’s partnership with Sodexo will further Jio’s endeavour to deliver the benefits of evolving digital technologies to every Indian and allow them to live Digital Life to the fullest. The integration will bring convenience and new digital transaction options for both JioMoney and Sodexo users in India. Going forward both brands will leverage core strengths, develop synergies and expand their reach and presence in India’s growing digital ecosystem.

Stephane Michelin, CEO Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services India said

At Sodexo, we constantly strive to enhance the consumer experience by expanding the ways to use the Sodexo Meal card within our proprietary network. Our endeavour has been to improve the retail experience for our 3 million daily users. With this partnership, JioMoney’s MPOS system will help segregate the food & non – food items among standalone, smaller merchants, which will further strengthen Sodexo’s position as a compliant meal benefit solution in the country.

The solution has already been launched in Mumbai and the consumer response has been excellent. The JioMoney solution will be enabled at all Sodexo accepting merchants nationally over a period of time. This partnership between JioMoney and Sodexo, both being leaders in their respective spaces brings high levels of domain expertise will bring about a radical change in the payments landscape across the country.

SharkID, the Social Phone-book app, crossed 5 lakh downloads; with their network database zooming past 75 million numbers. SharkID is a  bootstrapped Startup, founded by Ramesh Sinha, a technocrat & serial entrepreneur.

SharkID is a smart phone-book app backed by a highly scalable Service-oriented architecture with full stack technology, SharkID deploys a Big data Database Mongo and Redis for storage and Encrypted streaming for data security.

Last year performance

  • 5 Lakh downloads within one Year
  • 7.5 Million Calls
  • 75 Million Mobile numbers
  • Caller ID + Mutual Connections

Next Year Target

  • 10 Million Installations
  • 100 Million Calls
  • 1 Billion Mobile numbers

Speaking on the occasion, Ramesh Sinha, Founder – SharkID, said

Our download numbers have more than doubled and climbing – this encourages us to keep pushing, keep striving towards delivering the best experience. For us there can be no greater testament than sustained downloads, week after week. Our users have reaffirmed our core belief – that, given a best-of-breed, secure and smarter technology, User migration is inevitable. Every smartphone User/Business will migrate to a smarter, easier and meshed experience, if someone provides it. And that is precisely what we do.

When 100,000+ network connections get added every day, it validates our belief many times over and is testimony to our technical array expertise and user experience. SharkID stands committed to provide a secure, user immersive experience to individuals and companies.

Elaborating further, he added

Based on the very encouraging response for the SharkID business card, we are further customizing it to ensure smoother on-boarding for professionals & organizations. We are confident that once companies experience the incredible benefits, SharkID will become a movement and our downloads will increase even further. 

Currently the company plans to deepen the user experience and expand the user-base across India to 10 million by March 2019. SharkID for Android can be downloaded from here.

In recent announcements, Dell Technologies has elevated its yearly premier technology conference, Dell EMC World, to Dell Technologies World. This has been done in view of evolving demands of customers and their urgent requirements to transform digitally. The annual partner and customer event is now better and bigger than ever.

Here are the top 7 reasons why this event is a must-attend

#7 Discover what’s next. – “We’re entering the next era of human-machine partnership, a more integrated, personal relationship with technology that has the power to exponentially amplify the creativity, inspiration, intelligence and curiosity of the human spirit.” – Michael Dell, CEO

#6 Boost your careerWith so many innovations at Dell Tech World, you can get practical insights and actionable next steps to improve your processes, organizational speed and meet customer demands anytime/anywhere. Equip yourself with new skills and strategies, achieve technical certifications and expand your network.

#5 Find innovation everywhereThis conference is all about finding and meeting the people who are the brainchild behind the technology/s we use every day. Learn about strategy and products for the future and meet peers from around the globe.

#4 Meet new techLast year, Dell EMC World was bigger and this time after transiting to Dell Technologies World, expect it to be more lively and experiential. See live product releases and get hands on with interactive demos

#3 Collaborate with gurusEverybody is present, from peers to Dell Technologies Leadership team. If you are a technology enthusiast or a leader, this can be a technical opportunity for your or your organization to get insights and learning from the leadership team. These people not only are excited to share what they are doing, but would be willing to understand what your needs are.

#2 All in one placeA platform that will host and showcase the power of seven technology leaders, all in one place. Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and VMware. Together, they are #1 in everything and ready to help transform your business and shape your future.

#1 Make it realThe only conference that makes it real; where you can see, touch and discover products and solutions to enable real transformation from the edge to the core to the cloud. Be a part of this experience and pave the way for making transformation real.

Registration for the event is ongoing. Get ready to sharpen your technology DNA and make digital transformation work for your organization.

To know more about the event – https://www.delltechnologiesworld.com/index.htm

Register here – https://delltechnologiesworldonline.com/2018/portal/newreg.ww

Looking forward to seeing you at Dell Technologies World!

Mojro, a smart urban logistics platform has raised $650K investment led by 1Crowd and its investor community. The investment will be used for technology development, team expansion for marketing and building partnerships with fleet owners.

Image Source – Mojro

As Urban Logistics is a growing and sizable problem, Mojro’s offers a machine learning driven intra-city logistic planning and optimization platform. The platform can be used by large and medium businesses to optimize their logistic needs in terms of fleet utilization, space utilization and cost optimization. Mojro has also struck partnerships with fleet owners providing them modern day techniques to improve service quality and providing businesses the opportunity to plan and execute for their logistic needs through a single platform.

Kishan Aswath, CEO, Mojro, said

Mojro envisions to be the world’s largest technology enabled Logistics Platform that seamlessly automates end to end logistics needs of business entities and provides them an efficient & effective means to store, package and move goods.

1Crowd is a unique angel investment platform focused on early stage ventures. It has more than 600 investors, 70 mentors and has made over 13 investments since March 2016. With the funds, the company will be able to leverage 1Crowd’s ecosystem of mentors, industry connects and investor community to benefit from strategic to operational support.

Anup Kuruvilla, Co-Founder of 1Crowd, said

Along with a well-respected, experienced and dedicated team, Mojro addresses key modern day challenge of urban logistics. While there are several players in the logistics market, Mojro has the unique value proposition of being the only player in the market that has Optimization and On the Ground Execution as two cornerstones of its platform. The company has positioned itself as a technology-assisted platform solution company solving several issues of fleet capacity, route planning and Fleet Supply & Operations, helping fleet owners maximize the benefits from their assets.

The startup was founded in 2016 by Kishan Aswath, Amit Kulkarni, Ranganath Seetharamu and Swaminath Jeyachandran all having significant years of professional experience. Veteran banker M.A. Ravi Kumar and angel investor Sounder Kannan would join the Board of the company.

Sounder Kannan, Director, Naga Limited said

With a clear focus on optimizing the fragmented intra-city supply chain, Mojro aims to be providing world class solutions with aright blend of Physical & Digital services at scale.

About Mojro

Mojro aims to bring efficient planning, optimization of resources complemented by transparent execution to intra-city logistics. The platform uses machine learning, big data analytics, heuristics, and cognitive science for optimization of route, vehicle, space utilization and cost taking into account various constraints for both shipper and receiver including time, SLAs, type of goods & load distribution. For more information, please visit Mojro

About 1Crowd

1Crowd is a unique angel investment platform focused on investing in early stage ventures. 1Crowd and its investor community has made 15 investments in the early stage startup segment. 1Crowd has close to 600 investors on board and over 70 eminent people as mentors. For more information, please visit 1Crowd

Uber announced the launch of its new driver app, rebuilt completely from the ground up, for and with drivers. The new app provides a more simple and personalized experience, designed to support drivers and delivery partners on every moment of their journey.

Pradeep Parameswaran, Head of Central Operations, Uber India & SA, said

The launch of the new partner [drivers and courier partners] app is a key milestone for Uber. It truly reflects our commitment to the people who have been our partners in growth. We have built this app by listening to what they needed and shaped it alongside them – over 100 partners from Bangalore were a part of the global beta launch. Every piece of their feedback was important and it was incorporated into building an app that meets their needs, every moment of their journey.

Key product features of the new Uber Driver App

Earnings tracker – The new real-time Earnings Tracker lets drivers know – at a glance – how much they earned on their last trip, and makes it easy to track progress toward their goals.

Status bar – Provides real-time updates on market conditions around them and opportunities for more trips nearby. When a driver taps an opportunity, the app will provide optional navigation to the recommended area.

Notifications – This feature lets drivers see messages about upcoming earning opportunities, feedback from their riders, and information about their account.

Driver profile – Gives drivers the opportunity to showcase what they do outside of Uber, and allows riders to learn more about their driver and find new ways to connect.

Driver App Basics – A comprehensive guide to getting started with Uber that will be available to drivers in the coming months.

In India, the app is currently available to select driver partners in Kochi and courier partners in Chennai. It will be rolled out in a phased manner to driver and delivery partners across the country over the coming months.