CASHe, India’s most preferred digital lending company for young salaried millennials, promoted by serial entrepreneur and private equity investor Mr. V. Raman Kumar, announced its partnership with Mswipe, India’s leading mobile POS payment services provider, to launch the CASHe emi Mcards for its customers. The co-branded emi Mcard will give customers an instant pre-approved credit of up to Rs 10,000 with a 3 equated monthly repayment plan. The emi Mcard will be an additional option for the customers to choose from the existing portfolio of loan products available on the app.

Unlike other card schemes, purchases made from the CASHe emi [Electronic Mswipe Identification] Mcards will automatically be converted into equated monthly installments payable over a period of three months at lower interest rates. The customer can make a minimum purchase of Rs 2,500 per transaction up to the limit of Rs 10,000 set on the card. The CASHe emi Mcard can be used at any merchant or online store which has a Mswipe terminal or is a registered Mswipe merchant.

The CASHe app also enables users to find merchants who accept emi Mcards. Currently, Mswipe has a payment network of over 350,000 terminals spread across 650 cities in India.

The customer can make multiple transactions in a day not exceeding Rs 10,000. All transactions for the day will be converted into a single loan on which his equated monthly installment-based repayment plan will be set by CASHe. There will be no transactional or processing fee on making the purchase for the cardholder. Once the purchase is made within the assigned credit limit, the user can make the installment payments directly to CASHe.

The user can further track the equated monthly installment payment plan on the CASHe app itself. Customers who chooses to opt for the CASHe emi Mcard loan option on the CASHe app will be issued a physical card in their name along with a welcome kit which will have a user manual to operate the card. The company further stated that it will increase the pre-approved credit limit of the card to a higher value soon.

Ketan Patel, CEO – CASHe, said

We are happy to join hands with Mswipe, a formidable player in the merchant POS services business, and offer a compelling solution to enable CASHe customers to avail electronic credit at a wide range of merchants across the country.  With the launch of the CASHe emi Mcard, we are driving an altogether new level of attractive and hassle- free loan experience at the point-of-sale. With this value add, we are adding an affordable equated monthly installment payback options without the need for credit cards, which we hope will provide a better purchasing experience for the CASHe customers.

Manish Patel, Founder & CEO – Mswipe said

We are excited to launch a first of its kind consumer loan solution through our emi Mcards. As the country’s leading independent POS merchant acquirer, we have seen the importance of easy access to credit at the point of sale. These emi Mcards are a win-win for every stakeholder. For the customers, emi Mcards represent the simplest way to use their pre-approved loan. For NBFCs like CASHe, emi Mcards provide them complete control and a picture of how their loan is being used. For our merchants, these cards mean additional business and customers.

About CASHe

CASHe is India’s most preferred digital lending company for young salaried millennials. CASHe provides immediate short-term personal loans to young professionals based on their social profile, merit and earning potential using its proprietary algorithm-based machine learning platform.

In April 2016, Aeries Financial Technologies Pvt. Ltd, launched its innovative technology-driven lending platform for the young, urban millennials. CASHe provides almost instantaneous loans on-demand. CASHe’s target audience is young working professionals in the age group of 23-35 years. CASHe offers loans from Rs 10,000 to Rs 2,00,000 payable over 15~180 days. For more information, please visit CASHe

Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys and Efma, a global not-for-profit organization, launched the 10th Annual Study of Innovation in Retail Banking. The report is authored by Jim Marous, Publisher of the Digital Banking Report and Co-Publisher of The Financial Brand. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the research, the report explores a decade of banking innovation and looks ahead at what’s in store for banking in 2022.

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The research, in which over 300 banks globally participated, found that respondents see Open Banking APIs as the top technology for the future of innovation, with it being stronger than ’emerging’ areas such as machine learning, chatbots and RPA. The research found that in the short term, banks will leverage Open Banking for compliance such as the Payment Services Directive [Europe], Unified Payments Interface [India] and New Payments Platform [Australia].

The research also found that overall, organizations are taking a strategic perspective on the need for innovation ROI. In 2017, 31% of firms had an innovation ROI perspective of one year, compared to only 17% this year. In addition, 63% looked for an ROI in 1~3 years as opposed to 54% in 2017.

Respondents believe that retail banks consider digital commerce platforms [such as Alibaba] and technology giants as the innovation leaders for 2022. Similar to previous years, the greatest impact of transformation is expected to be in the areas of payments, mobile wallets and lending in the next three years.

Key findings include

Investment in banking innovation

  • With legacy technology being identified amongst the top three barriers for innovation, 74% banks are increasing investments in technology modernization.
  • 50% of the organizations believe that product delivery channels followed by new product innovations will be where most innovation will take place in the next four years.

Impact of modern technologies

  • Open banking APIs are seen as the top technology impacting banking in the next year by 65% of the respondents
  • Banks rated only a moderate level of organizational readiness to leverage technologies to deliver expected business outcomes for open banking, conversational interfaces and cloud processing.

Deploying and measuring innovation

  • The need to collaborate with external partners continues to be the highest focus when sourcing talent for innovation.
  • Innovation over the next 12 months will be delivered through investments in co-innovation with other partners, a dedicated innovation team along with collaboration with large tech firms.
  • The presence of an innovation officer increased significantly over the past year. In 2017, only 37% of the organizations surveyed had a dedicated executive to lead the innovation process. In 2018, the number jumped to 48%.

Banking in 2022

  • After existing digital channels [mobile and online], digital assistants, social media and third party channels are expected to be the primary channels for banking by 2022.
  • Close to half of the respondents believe that less than 40% of the current workload would move to public cloud by 2022.
  • According to 70% of the respondents, AI is expected to have a significant impact in transforming customer service/support by 2022.

Vincent Bastid, CEO, Efma, said

In recent years, banking institutions have been facing disruption head-on, with advancements in customer service, personalization and mobile applications through a combination of Open APIs, AI and machine learning. The 10th edition of this report highlights advancements made in the last decade but also predicts a dramatic transformation in payments, mobile wallets and lending.

Sanat Rao, Chief Business Officer and Global Head, Infosys Finacle, said

The 10th edition of the Innovation in Retail Banking report strongly illustrates the pace at which the traditional banking model is evolving. The need to invest in a solid platform strategy focused on business benefits and more compelling experiences for customers, employees and partners is central to remain competitive. This report will help banks sharpen their digital vision and benchmark their plans with the industry peers.

Jim Marous, Owner and Publisher of the Digital Banking Report and author of Study, said

More than ever, the importance of an innovation culture became apparent for organizations that want to become leaders in both digital transformation and customer experience. There is a significant shift occurring in the banking industry, with more organizations looking to innovate in areas directly impacting the consumer, as opposed to building innovations that only impact efficiency and technology improvements.

Additional Resources

The Muthoot Group, one of India’s leading business conglomerates today announced the launch of its Chatbot MATTU & MITTU [Muthoot Advanced Technology Transformation Unit (MATTU), Muthoot Intelligent Technology Transformation Utility (MITTU)]. MATTU & MITTU will be represented by two elephant mascots that come together to denote the Group’s famous logo. The company is first in the Indian Gold Loan industry to use a bot on its official website MuthootFinance

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‘MATTU & MITTU’ is an Artificial Intelligence powered Virtual Assistant that will offer 24/7 customer assistance and instantly respond to customer queries across The Muthoot Group’s diverse products and services; ranging from Gold Loan, Insurance, Money Transfer, Forex, Mutual Funds, Home loan etc. The AI-Bot is also said to act as a financial advisor, helping break myths around Muthoot’s flagship product – Gold Loans, and enabling customers to make informed decisions.

It will help the customer to register, get details about Gold Loan/other financial products, apply for a Gold Loan scheme, locate the nearest Muthoot Finance branch etc. Among many other attractive features of the Bot, MATTU and MITTU will also provide

  • AI assisted live chat
  • Predictive text
  • Rating and instant feedback facility
  • Natural language processing
  • Suggestive/informative conversations
  • Specialized advice based on customer inclinations
  • Personalized advice through recognition of past behaviour patterns
  • Onsite support at a branch, without involvement of staff

Speaking about this development, Alexander George Muthoot, Deputy Managing Director, The Muthoot Group said

We, at The Muthoot Group, have always been at the forefront of adopting technology and transforming customer experience by providing them instant solutions to their financial needs. ‘MATTU & MITTU’ is our latest addition to some of our already existing technologically advanced systems like Core Banking Solution [CBS], Customer Relationship Management [CRM], iMuthoot Mobile App etc.

We serve more than 2 lakh customers everyday, and through our newly launched Chatbot, we aim to redefine seamless customer experience by being present where they are – Online. The bot is designed to increase the quality of the relationship we have with our customers by enhancing and personalizing their financial journey with us.

About The Muthoot Group

The Muthoot Group has a family business legacy of over 800 years. The Group started as a small trading business enterprise in Kozhencherry, a remote village in the state of Kerala. Since its formation, the company, under the leadership of its key management – Shri M G George Muthoot (Chairman), Shri George Alexander Muthoot (Managing Director), Shri George Thomas Muthoot (Jt. Managing Director) and George Jacob Muthoot (Jt. Managing Director) has broadened its scale and widened its geographic scope of retail operations.

Today, The Muthoot Group is a multi-faceted business conglomerate comprising 18 diversified divisions including Financial  Services, Wealth Management, Money Transfer, Forex, Securities, Vehicle & Asset Finance, Media, IT, Healthcare, Housing & Infrastructure, Education, Power Generation, Leisure & Hospitality, Plantation & Estates, Precious Metals, Travel Services, Housing Finance & Overseas Operations.

Sqrrl – an intuitive DIY digital platform aimed at getting Indians into the habit of investing and learning about personal finance, launched a Personal Finance talk show Sqrrl Chatter at WeWork, a co-working space in Gurugram. The chat series is aimed at people who want to learn about investments by starting small and get better at money management.

This launch event attracted 30+ startups from Delhi NCR and gave the attendees an opportunity to increase their wealth by understanding what goes into taking the right and personalized investment strategies.

Currently, Sqrrl has a strong foothold in more than 600 cities of the country. With 2,50,000+ application downloads of Sqrrl, the focus of the company is to raise financial awareness in the country and encourage people to invest more, by starting small.

[L] Samant Sikka, Co-Founder, Sqrrl Fintech | [R] Monica Halan Author, Let’s Talk Money

Sqrrl Chatter, conducted at WeWork Gurugram, paved a new way of gaining financial wisdom from the Industry Experts, who have been there and seen it all. The Event also saw the book launch of Let’s Talk Money, by Ms. Monika Halan, Consulting Editor of Mint Newspaper, who talked about some of the interesting aspects of the book and also gave worthy suggestions regarding investments and money management.

According to Monika Halan, Author of Let’s Talk Money

Considering the fast-paced era we are living in today, it’s very important for millennials to start saving early in life. Although it’s advisable to not get too ambitious about saving all at once. Instead one should divide his/her salary in three types of accounts – inflows, consumption and saving/investment. This way it will be easier to set yourself to start saving.

According to Samant Sikka, Co-Founder, Sqrrl

Money is one of the most enigmatic subjects. Just thinking of it evokes a wide variety of emotions. Most young Indians find handling money to be complex. On top of that, the financial services industry has heavily jargonized everything to drive a knowledge wedge between itself and consumers. The need of the hour is to make the subject simple, easy, relate-able, relevant & automated.

About Sqrrl

Sqrrl is making honest and differentiated efforts to help millennials save and grow their money effortlessly! It is using automation as a tool to help users make saving money, a habit; be it saving up for a dream holiday, their startup or any one of the several hundred reasons one might need money for. Started in March 2017, Sqrrl reached the milestone of 2,00,000+ users within a fairly short span and is expanding aggressively, making new inroads across more cities. Sqrrl is also the world’s first mobile app platform, in the finance space, operating in Hindi, and currently supports in a total of 9 Indian languages.

LALA World, the leading fintech organization aiming to develop an AI and Blockchain powered global, digitally-decentralized financial ecosystem, has partnered with TransferTo. TransferTo is a leading global digital value services network. A first for a Blockchain-based company, under this collaboration, LALA World will have direct access to TransferTo’s services network to offer its customers mobile top-up solutions in over 150 countries.

Image Source – LALA World

Globally, there are over 5 billion mobile phone users and the demand and need to stay connected – with call, text and data access – is high. This key partnership with TransferTo will enable LALA World to access over 600 mobile operators, across more than 150 countries and offer its customers a safe and reliable solution to seamlessly top-up the mobile phones of their loved ones back home – all credited in real-time, directly to the recipients’ mobile, and in local currency.

Sankalp Shangari, Founder & CEO of LALA World, said

LALA World has a mission to touch more lives every day and connect people through digital financial services. By partnering with TransferTo, we are able to accelerate our global expansion as we grow our product portfolio, thereby enabling easier solutions for our customers to stay connected across the world. TransferTo is a digital value services leader and innovator, and we are thrilled to be joining such a successful network.

Peter De Caluwe, CEO, TransferTo, said

We are very pleased to be welcoming LALA World into our global network. Our technology will enable it to seamlessly connect to our platform, through a single API connection, and by interconnecting it with our network partners, LALA World will have the ability to expand its portfolio, grow its business and deliver new solutions to customers.

LALA World iOS and Android app users can use the services not only in India, but they can now recharge the mobiles of friends and family in 150 countries across the world. TransferTo first launched its digital value services network in 2005 and has since processed more than 450 million transactions.

About LALA World

LALA World is an established and fast-growing Asian technology company using Blockchain to create a connected financial ecosystem for the unbanked, migrants and refugees around the world. Founded in 2016 and headquartered in Singapore, LALA World is a social business with a presence in 5 countries and over 100 global partners including government agencies and NGOs. LALA World’s vision is simple – to touch 100 million lives by 2020 and make them better. For more information, please visit LALA World

Investec Capital Services (India) Ltd has announced that it acted as an an exclusive financial advisor to Kissht for the Series C fund raise of $30 million. The funding round was led by Vertex Ventures, the venture capital arm of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, and Sistema Asia Fund, with participation from existing investors Fosun RZ Capital, VenturEast & Endiya Partners. This is one of India’s largest consumer Fin-Tech deal.

Image Source – Kissht

Investec India had also advised Kissht on its Series B led by Fosun in November 2017. Investec India has built a strong advisory business over the last few years within the Indian Venture Capital ecosystem. Investec India has advised companies across a wide range of sectors on Equity Fundraises at Series B and above, including Kissht, Bizongo, Treebo Hotels, OfBusiness, BigBasket, Pepperfry and Quikr. The firm also advised on the sale of CitrusPay to Naspers – one of India’s largest Fin-Tech M&A, and on the sale of Sokrati to Dentsu – one of India’s largest Digital Media M&A.

Frankie Brown of Investec Capital Services (India) Ltd said

With our unique position in the Indian market, we believe that Investec India is well placed to advise businesses across the Fin-Tech spectrum. We have a long-term relationship with Kissht, and this partnership has successfully resulted in both the Series B and Series C fundraises. The $30 million Series C round will see Kissht perfectly placed to consolidate their market leadership position. Investec is investing significantly in the Fin-Tech space across the both in India and globally.

Vinit Barve of Investec Capital Services (India) Ltd said

Technology led lending has opened up a huge credit opportunity in India. Kissht has established a leadership position in the consumer Fin-Tech segment. With its consistent growth, strong unit economics and enviable NPA record, Kissht has taken the right steps in the direction of building a mighty lending institution. This investment, led by Vertex and Sistema with participation from existing investors, will enable the company to achieve the next level of growth and cement its leadership position in the consumer financing segment.

Founded in 2015 by Krishnan Vishwanathan and Ranvir Singh, Kissht provides product financing and personal loans to its customers through a financial technology platform which is integrated with online and offline merchants. Kissht has developed its own self-learning proprietary algorithm which assesses a customer’s credit profile in a fraction of a second based on 2,000+ digital footprints.

Kissht has demonstrated remarkable growth with impressive record on credit costs. The business had previously raised its Series B round from Fosun RZ Capital, Prophet Capital, VenturEast and Endiya Partners in 2017. Currently Kissht is present in 50+ Online and 2,000+ Offline points of sale across categories including consumer durables, electronics, health, alternative energy & education, enabling customers to easily access credit for their purchases.

Kissht will use this funding to penetrate its business further into both offline and online merchants, and deeper across categories and further enhance its data and analytics capabilities as it seeks to cement its leadership position in the highly under-penetrated Indian consumer credit market, as well as investing further in technology and building the team.

NiYO Solutions Inc. [interaction with the NiYo founder here], a new-age digital banking solution for salaried employees, announced the launch of the Global Card, aimed at making international transactions safer and inexpensive. International travelers are always burdened with the high currency exchange rate charged by issuing banks for all transactions made outside the country. This rate can vary between 1~3% of the amount transacted. Banks also charge either a flat fee or a set percentage of the transaction amount, in addition to the currency exchange charge. In fact, travelers face a variety of issues with current multi-currency cards, starting from the difficulty in issuance, having to go to a branch to load/unload currency, challenges in tracking spending, etc.

The NiYO Global Card offers instant setup, convenient loading from any account via NEFT/IMPS, ZERO currency exchange premium, and zero international transaction fees on usage anywhere in the world. This makes present day multi-currency cards and traveler’s cheques redundant.

The card is supported by a cutting edge mobile banking app which gives users ability to lock and unlock either the full card or a payment channel anytime, anywhere. The app also provides real-time notifications on usage, exchange rates, and refunds, while helping users find convenient ATM locations, avail nearby offers, and much more.

If you are a business traveler, you can submit claims on-the-go by adding bills for each transaction right in the app. These claims can be instantaneously approved by your organization via the NiYO Corporate Portal. The NiYO Global Card is being launched in partnership with the DCB Bank and can be used at ATMs, POS terminals, and for online transactions in any country.

Features of the NiYO Global Card

  • Can be used at over 2 million VISA/MasterCard ATMs and over 35 million merchant outlets across the world
  • Load the card and check account balance in INR, no need to add international currency
  • For security, the card can be blocked using the NiYO mobile app and can be locked through the app when not in use
  • No minimum balance or low balance fines
  • Real time notification alerts of transactions
  • Users can reload the card instantly with ease from any bank account via NEFT/IMPS
  • Additional offers and benefits available at select outlets across the world
  • Features such as ATM locator and travel insurance included with the card

The United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO] has estimated that by 2020, India will account for 50 million outbound tourists. With 65 million Indian passport holders and the ease of access in obtaining visa-on-arrival in more than 50 countries, it is no surprise that global spending by Indians is on the rise. According to the regulations by the Reserve Bank of India, Indian travellers are allowed to spend up to $250,000 outside the country in a year, in areas such as investments, education, medical expenses, property transactions, gifts, and donations.

By January 2018, Indian travellers had spent $1.2 billion abroad within 10 months. This has created immense opportunity for travel-friendly cards, and NiYO aims to be the market leader in this space. NiYO plans to issue 5 millions cards in next 2 years.

Vinay Bagri, CEO and Co-founder, NiYO said

I have seen people struggle with present day foreign currency solutions during travel and decided to make one of the best travel card solutions in the world. With the NiYO Global Card and App, we have achieved that. Our Mobile app, with path-breaking features like card control, channel control, and real-time notifications, and a card with zero markup and global acceptance, means that whether you are traveling for business or personal use, NiYO Global Card is the only card you need. 

About NiYO

Founded in 2015 by Vinay Bagri and Virender Bisht, NiYO’s mission is to increase cash flow for all salaried individuals by leveraging technology in the areas of payroll & benefits. NiYO features an integrated solution comprising of a Multi-Pocket Card, a Mobile App, and a digital account with multiple wallets.

Vinay has spent more than 18 years working with diverse organizations like Parle, 3M, ICICI Bank, SCB, ING, and Kotak Mahindra Bank. He combines a deep understanding of distribution and retail banking, having spent over a decade in leadership roles across unsecured lending, retail liabilities, corporate salary, and retail banking strategy.

Virender is a seasoned technology professional with 16 years of experience in creating world-class software products for companies like MobiKwik, Makemytrip [MMYT], StudyPlaces.com, Exponential Inc, GE Medical Systems, and Tata Consultancy Services. Virender is a hands-on technologist and has a reputation for building scalable solutions for e-commerce and payments domain.

There is a famous quote – ‘Risk & Rewards are two sides of the same coin’ and the same is applicable for monetary investments. However, the investment portfolio would differ from person to person since it is dependent on many factors like risk appetite, assets, liabilities, dependencies, etc. and hence, it becomes virtually impossible for any investment firm to cater to varied investment requirements of such a large audience.

Image Source – Fintech

There is a wrong notion that investing in Mutual Funds or SIP’s is similar & equally risky as investing in the stock market. Due to this, less than 1.5% of the Indian population invested in equity markets and only 2% of India’s household savings were exposed to equity [as per a report from Bloomberg]. However, times are changing and more & more people are willing to invest in SIP’s for long-term benefits, given that they get proper guidance.

This is the problem that many new-age Fintech companies are trying to solve using Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, etc. by giving investors more personalized tailor-made portfolio suggestions based on their persona, long-term & short-term goals, etc. As it is said, you learn from your own mistakes and the 2008 market crash resulted in an Aha moment for entrepreneur Arjun Sarkar. Though he lost a significant amount of money in the crash due to misguidance, he soon realized that it was a ‘larger’ problem that required to be solved. Arjun Sarkar, along with Anup Abhonkar co-founded Everguard Life Ventures Pvt. Ltd. and came up with their first product named SIPtm with the aim to make equity investing simpler by taking investor’s persona and various other data points into consideration. In this episode, we have a chat with Arjun Sarkar, Founder & CEO of the Pune-based startup. The Q&A revolves around the core product SIPtm, fintech, persona-based investing & more. Let’s get started with the Q&A…

Note – ‘I’ in the interview refers to Arjun Sarkar.

Can you walk us through the idea of SIPtm and the team behind the same ?

Idea of SIPtm came to solve the problem of investing for retail investors i.e. answering the questions – Where to invest?, When to invest?, and How much to invest? Because the investor does not know what to do, they invariably go for the default option i.e. trust their friendly neighbourhood bank which is the worst decision they can make. Personally I lost a significant portion of my net-worth in the 2008 crash because I was misled by my relationship manager and invested in the wrong product, that’s when I started taking this subject seriously.

The team comprises of myself – Arjun Sarkar, CEO & Founder of Everguard Life Ventures Pvt. Ltd., the parent company behind the development of SIPtm. I have an MBA from University of Toronto. I have personally managed money for CXO’s and NRI’s in tens of crores for close to a decade and 80% of my personal wealth is invested in mutual funds.

Anup Abhonkar, CTO & Co-Founder has over 18 years of IT experience across domains like Banking, Insurance and Securities. He has worked for leaders in the industry like, Accenture, Barclays and Wipro delivering business critical solutions for Fortune 500 organizations like Aviva and Charles Schwab.

Both of us are passionate about our field. Ask our wives and you will find that we spend most of our time talking about the subject.

What does ‘tm’ stand for in SIPtm ?

TM stands for Through Mobile.

What are some of the data points that you take while recommending a particular SIP or Investment to a particular customer ?

We follow a thorough process backed by research, where we consider multiple quantitative and qualitative factors across domains like Economics [Macros and Micros] and Market and also take customer specific inputs like time-horizon and quantum of investment before suggesting a fund. Research further shows that some categories of funds are better suited for SIP mode of investments so we take that in to consideration as well.

In other words, it is not a cookie cutter approach of following ratings of funds or just looking at the past performance of funds. We are talking investments here, not buying e-commerce products where customer can buy just based on reviews and ratings, they may do well in the short term but will not able to sustain it for a meaningful period of time.

Please talk about ‘Persona Based Investing’ and how can millennials use a platform like SIPtm to plan their investments and maximize their savings ?

‘Persona based investing’ is a concept which maps life stage of investors to priority goals which then helps to filter the optimal investment mix for them. SIPtm is a great product for millennials as it is prescriptive in nature i.e. it is like a doctor listing out the medicine and the dosage which makes decision making very simple. More importantly, the dosage or SIP amounts are in the range of typical monthly savings which can be channelized in a disciplined manner thereby earning much higher returns than other traditional saving products like recurring deposits or insurance products.

Which is the target market segment of SIPtm and can you share some details about the customer demographics of SIPtm ?

Target market segment of SIPtm is people with regular income as SIP mode of investing is a good fit for them.

There are lot of Fintech companies like Scripbox, Sqrrl, etc. that are into goal-based investments, what are the USP’s of SIPtm over their competitors ?

SIPtm is a vehicle to achieve goals but takes a different route than its competitors to reach the goal faster, more predictably and with less volatility. The USP is in the name itself, the app is built ground up for SIP investments only i.e. no lump sum investments which makes the journey less bumpy and more predictable.

The other differentiator is that SIPtm offers a complete solution, right from prescribing the monthly SIP amount, to selection of funds, to distribution of monthly amount between the funds. More importantly, it re-balances the portfolio at appropriate times during the journey i.e. It does not take the fill it, shut and forget it approach.

We are a fintech company i.e. a financial services company that leverages technology to make life easier for our customers. Not the other way round i.e. a technology company that has built a financial app? The nuance is very important as you are suggesting an investment solution not a consumer commodity like laptops and mobile phones where ratings work.

As per a report, there is very small percentage of investors/would be investors who plan to invest in the Equity market [or MF], how does SIPtm plan to change this ‘resistant’ behavior from investors ?

Resistant behaviour is because of fear of loss – The answer is SIP mode of investing as SIPs manage volatility better and as a result, give higher returns at lower risks. Also, SIP amounts are small, so you are not putting a lot of money at risk at any point in time. In case of SIPtm there is another level of assurance, as the suggestions are coming from experts based on 5000+ hours of research. There is also a visible change in the behaviour in the recent times, as per latest figures, India is raking in over a billion dollars in SIPs per month now.

What is the Total Addressable Market [TAM] that you are trying to address with SIPtm?

20 Million SIPs with average investment of Rs 5000 per month

How is the response from the early adopters of SIPtm and what are some the best features that are liked by the community ?

The response from early adopters is great with SIP values ranging from Rs. 5000 right up to Rs. 20,000 per month. The best feature liked by the community is the prescriptive investment suggestion and the overall simplicity of the investment experience.

Currently how many AMC’s are syndicated on the SIPtm platform and how frequently the data is updated on the app ?

This is one more differentiator for us, we have shortlisted only the top 5 AMCs of the country based on some key criterion’s, one of them being the staying power and that is a conscious decision. We may add a couple more in the near future if they pass the criterion’s that we have laid out.

SIPtm Core Team – Anup Abhonkar, Co-founder & CTO [L], Arjun Sarkar, Founder & CEO [R]

Once the user has created an account on SIPtm [and all his investments from various AMCs are under one window], what other services does your team provide to the investors so that they can get more returns from their investments ?

The most relevant and important service provided is the rebalancing of the portfolio and timely interventions to ensure that the customer goal is achieved in time.

Can you give a small glimpse about the tech behind SIPtm ?

SIPtm App has a very simple process flow and UI only because, underneath lies a network of multiple systems, including the App back-end, payment gateway, our back-office tech and RTAs and these systems talking to each in a secure and efficient manner through APIs.

What is the on-boarding process for customers on SIPtm and how has initiatives like IndiaStack, Aadhaar, etc. helped Fintech companies like SIPtm in on-boarding & other services ?

The Customer on-boarding process is very simple and totally paperless. We take minimalistic information from the customer as a one time setup. We know paper work is boring, however this basic information is a part of the Regulatory requirements. After verifying the Customer information, we activate the customer. The customer then goes for the eMandate process. Here is where we use the Aadhaar based e-Sign process that is very simple and reduces the manual 15 days process to just 3 days. So yes, Aadhaar helping immensely in reducing the cycle time as well as going paperless.

SIPtm is currently limited to MF’s/SIP’s, are there any plans/timeline on whether it would be expanded to cover other financial instruments ?

Not in the immediate future as we want to focus all our energy in one area that we are really good at and an area that is under penetrated.

With growing investor and entrepreneur interest in Fintech, many wallet companies like Paytm via PaytmMoney, FreeCharge, MobiKwik, etc. have launched a boutique of finance products on their platform, does this growing competition have an impact on a startup like SIPtm and how it could result in expansion of the fintech ecosystem ?

We do not consider wallet companies as competitors as they do not have the expertise or experience in mutual fund investments. It is like going to a pharmacist who just stocks different products and asking them for a recommendation on medicines to treat a serious disease. But  the fintech ecosystem can benefit if the wallet companies tie up with players like SIPtm as, as they can generate an incremental revenue stream and actually add real value to their users by helping them generate wealth vs earning cashbacks.

Does SIPtm charge any commission from the investment that is being done on the platform ?

Not directly from the customer but through the AMCs we have partnered with. That being said, we do not push mutual funds suggested by the asset management companies as a typical distributor does, just position funds shortlisted by our algorithm.

What is the revenue model of SIPtm and does it follow the Freemium model & do you plan to be a preferred investment partner for enterprise customers ?

As of today our revenue model is commissions. Yes, we plan to partner with enterprise customers in the future but the value proposition for them has to be worked upon.

There is a growing demand of products like SIPtm in Tier-2, Tier-3 cities [and beyond], what are some of the marketing initiatives that your team has taken in order to penetrate into that particular market ?

Yes, we are in talks with potential partners who have a strong existing network in the Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

SIPtm is backed by a very experienced founding team and there are very experienced domain-expert mentors behind SIPtm, how has the mentorship helped your team in building the ‘right set’ of features on SIPtm ?

The mentorship has helped us focus on the essentials and cut out the noise. Some of our key decisions on the product road-map have come through the regular calls we have with our advisors. The right set of features has come through a market research project we conducted for our target segment before developing SIPtm and we continue to collect feedback from our live customers.

Can you touch upon the funding of EverguardLife Ventures & are looking for institutional funding in the near future ?

Everguard is internally funded as of now, but we are looking for institutional funding this year for product development and marketing.

The app is currently present on Google Play Store, is there any timeline for the app to be released on the iOS platform ?

We are currently focussing on building traction and incorporating valuable feedback into the Android version. Work on the iOS version is underway and we shall release it shortly.

Do you plan to follow an app-only strategy or there is a plan to open-up a desktop version of the SIPtm platform [since it would definitely be useful for users who log-on the platform from their work location] ?

SIPtm is an app as mobile phones are the preferred mode for our target segment based on our customer research. That being said the algorithm that runs SIPtm is based on our earlier desktop platform called Finanswer which we plan to develop further for other target segments.

After demonetization, there has been a huge demand for payment apps [including UPI], wallet providers providing investment options like Digital Gold, etc. do you see that trend working in favor of apps like SIPtm [that makes an investor’s life smoother] ?

Absolutely, as users get more comfortable using and moving money through Apps it will help apps like SIPtm. We however, do not see payment apps as serious competitors because of the differentiators we touched upon earlier.

2017 was a tough year for startups [especially from funding point of view], how according to you should entrepreneurs deal with such adverse situations ?

Entrepreneurs should always be prepared and focus on their customers to earn revenue. Also, look out for investors who understand your domain well and who can help raise money when it is required, so that the team can focus on the product and business development.

SIPtm team is currently working out from a co-working space in Pune, what are some of the advantages for a startup/growth company while working out from a co-working space ?

You grow your network and get a chance to test your ideas quickly since the target segment is around you and more accessible.

There is lot of talk about implementation of Blockchain, AI, etc. in Finance & Fintech, what are your comments on the same and where do you see the tech moving ahead in the next 3~5 years ?

The ‘Blockchain’ and ‘AI’ landscape looks promising in delivering value to businesses and thereby increasing customer service levels which is very important in Finance. Organizations currently are trying to get a hang of it in multiple use cases and it will be a mainstay in the near future.

Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs and some closing comments for our readers ?

The books I would recommend are E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, Founder of Michael E Gerber Companies and Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Founder of PayPal

We work really hard all our lives to earn money but do make our money work hard for us, by the time we realize this, half our working life is over. I would advise your readers to start investing early as time in the market is the most important factor and it is totally under our control. Investing is a process, boring maybe, but definitely life changing if taken up seriously.

SIPtm for Android can be downloaded from here. We thank Arjun Sarkar for sharing his insights with our readers and walking us through his journey. If you have any questions for him, please share them via a comment to this article or email them to himanshu.sheth@gmail.com