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

According to recent industry reports, 156 million of Indians who comprise the ‘urban mass’ and ‘urban middle’ section representing an annual income of USD 3000 and above have the potential of mass adoption of consumer credit. Of this the ‘urban mass’ constituting approximately 129 million have been mostly deprived of credit due to lack of credit history.

Addressing this major concern, CASHe, India’s leading digital lending company, promoted by serial entrepreneur and private equity investor V. Raman Kumar, announced the launch of India’s first alternate credit rating system – The Social Loan Quotient [SLQ].

India’s first social behaviour-based credit-rating system, SLQ is a fast, unique and a path-breaking real time platform which leverages big data analytics, artificial intelligence and predictive tools. The innovative platform will help score millions of Indians, who otherwise have been left in the lurch for lack of consumer credit in the absence of credit history.

Considering the young urban mass prefer to avail small ticket loans for short term, the existing traditional lending platforms such as banks and NBFCs’ find it unviable to serve the segment. In addition, the lack of credit history further dampens the situation. Here SLQ will play a pivotal role in helping this large untapped population to avail credit on the basis of the score generated by the system. Soon, the platform will also be set open to other institutions [banks, NBFCs’ and credit bureaus] to integrate and avail the system thereby helping them reach out to the masses.

Unlike conventional lending agencies who rely only on an applicant’s past financial transactions, CASHe’s revolutionary approach links multiple online and offline data points like his mobile, social and media footprint, education, remuneration, career and financial history to calculate the borrower’s credit score.

Speaking on the launch of this new credit scoring innovation, the CEO of CASHe, Ketan Patel, said:

Credit is critical for the growth of an economy. It incorporates the element of aspiration and infuses growth to keep the economy up and running. However, the lack of alternative credit models, challenging capital eco-system and an unviable cost structure have kept mass India deprived of quick and reliable credit.

Through SLQ, we are focused on those who may have little or no credit history with traditional lending institutions. We hope this will revolutionize the digital lending space in the country and encourage other credit institutes and agencies to avail ‘SLQ’ as the go-to platform to assess credit worthiness of mass India.

There are millions across the country who have never obtained a bank loan, however, they are internet users who shop on line, have a good social media presence, have a stable residential status and also have been using their mobile phones actively. SLQ will now use these factors or data points into consideration when assessing a customer’s creditworthiness.

The platform will analyze unstructured data from various sources – social media profiles, mobile data, KYC documents – to provide the users with a system that will instantaneously and continuously update a borrower’s credit worthiness and insure sound underwriting.

The scores are generated in Real Time and will enable the customer to know, within a few seconds, if he qualifies for a loan with CASHe or not. Subsequently, on completion of the loan application process, every customer’s personal SLQ score will now be displayed to him. This will provide the user with a reliable tool for accessing his/her creditworthiness.

Srinivas Nidumolu, Chief Technology Officer – CASHe, added

This is a service that is sorely needed by many Indians. SLQ is developed using proprietary deep learning and artificial intelligence technologies that will analyze a wealth of data to find recurring patterns of credit behavior that will indicate an individual’s willingness and ability to pay his financial obligations.

CASHe, over the past two years have built a very large data set of customer information based on their digital footprint and mobile data to spur the financial inclusion of many deserving credit worthy Indians who do not have access to financial services. This allows us to build credit scores even for individuals with little or no formal credit information but who may actually be good candidates to obtain credit.

With more than 2 million downloads, 180,000 customers, 480 crore loan disbursals, 30,000 loans processed in a month, over 1000 loan applications in a day and 75% repeat customers CASHe has amassed a huge wealth of data encompassing rich customer information which can be potentially analyzed for credit behaviour.

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. Its user-friendly digital interface enables faster loan application process and quicker loan disbursal’s. CASHe provides hassle-free loans with its app enabled documentation and loan disbursal/repayment process. For more information, please visit CASHe

METRO Cash & Carry, India’s largest organized wholesale and food specialist announced an exclusive partnership with the technology start-up Chqbook to offer a wide range of financial products and solutions to METRO’s above 3 million transacting customer base across its 25 wholesale stores in the country. In line with its commitment to be a ‘Champion for Independent Business’, METRO has partnered with Chqbook to provide inclusive financial solutions to all small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] within the METRO eco-system. The initiative will give SMEs access to best rates, lower fees, and more cashback on credit & debit cards with exceptional customer service.

Commenting on the strategic alliance, Arvind Mediratta, MD & CEO, METRO Cash & Carry India said

At METRO, we are committed to deliver tremendous value to our SME and Kirana value chain. The Indian Government has paved the way for a Digital India through its numerous initiatives and schemes for SMEs. Our partnership with Chqbook.com will provide a large financial marketplace to our 3 million customer base.

It has been our constant endeavor to deliver the best technological and financial support to SMEs to augment the efficiency of their business operations. This partnership is aligned with our mission statement of being a ‘Champion for Independent Business’ as we firmly believe that we are an integral part of their growth and success story in India.

Chqbook’s marketplace will provide financial services to METRO customers in the B2B sector exclusively. It brings competitive rates and fees from 40+ Banks, NBFC’s and Credit Card companies, allowing easier comparisons, instant eligibility checks and quick approvals. It also operates a network of 400+ experts across 15+ cities in the country to provide appointments within 4 hours for document pickups and same day or next day approval for loans & credit cards. Chqbook.com will work with banks and payment providers to bring cash-backs, zero EMI products and pay-later schemes, making purchasing at Metro seamless and helping SME’s and others save financing costs.

Chqbook.com will also offer pre–approved products for METRO customers across Home Loans, Business Loans, Personal Loans, Insurance, Credit Cards, and other Financial Services. It’s recommendation algorithm automatically suggests the right products between various categories, giving customers instant approval, paperless documentation and a digital on–boarding experience resulting in quick disbursals and issuance.

Speaking about the initiative, Vipul Sharma, MD & CEO of Chqbook.com, said

We found a synergy in METRO and Chqbook.com’s approach of unlocking customer value through marketplaces. Our technology, understanding of the financial services sector and our deep commitment to customer service are the cornerstone to create a world class financial service platform. With METRO, we have found a partner who champions the cause of independent businesses similar to our own mission.

This alliance will help both existing and new customers as they will benefit from the cashback programs, personal finance, insurance and a range of products & solutions that Chqbook.com is offering. We are very excited about this partnership and are enthused to work with METRO to bring more innovations and solutions to the evolving SME universe.

About Chqbook

Chqbook is India’s largest market place for AI based personalized financial services. It’s the winner of the SuperStartup Asia 2018 award and currently has over 35+ credit cards, 21 Home Loan providers and 17 Personal loan and Business loan providers listed on it’s platform. Chqbook.com uses it’s proprietary TARA AI journey which provides customers instant and personalized recommendations of products best suited to their credit score, profile and demographics.

It also pulls in data from card issuers, banks and credit bureaus to fine-tune recommendations in real time. Chqbook.com has built the next generation marketplace and provides comparisons, eligibility and a seamless application process across 40 banks and credit card companies. It’s rapidly expanding marketplace brings pre-approved loans, credit cards, insurance and mutual funds to the country’s gen next with a sharp focus on a magical customer experience each and every time. For further information, log on to Chqbook.com

Fin-tech is having a huge impact on the financial services in India. It has been largely dominated by the lending and payments companies in India. Initiatives like the India Stack [UPI, e-KYC, Aadhar] by National Payments Corporation Of India [NPCI] have been instrumental in leading the Fin-tech revolution. As of 2018, it has been estimated that India has around 19 crore adults without a bank account despite efforts from the government. Digital payments is a rapidly growing sector in India today with multiple players capturing various pockets of the market.

Image Source – Fintech

In this dynamic space, MoneyOnMobile brings to the table a unique and revolutionary concept of Digital payments for the unbanked and under-banked through means of financial inclusion and self-dependence.

MoneyOnMobile helps these consumers to successfully adopt digital payment practices through use of just a basic feature phone to make life simpler and easier. Users can simply convert physical cash to digital cash by visiting any MoneyOnMobile retailer base store or by activating services through a SMS or by downloading the MoneyOnMobile app.

MoneyOnMobile has been designed to work across all mobile phone handsets, from the most basic to the most advanced. By using the innovative m-Wallet from MoneyOnMobile, one can recharge a mobile; pay utility bills; top-up a DTH account; shop for any goods or services; buy travel related services such as – rail/air/bus/movie tickets and even handle banking transactions – all from the comfort of a mobile phone. MoneyOnMoney’s success to reach the remotest parts of India makes them the standalone prepaid instrument in the market today. Today we have a chat with Mr. Harold Montgomery, CEO – MoneyOnMobile about the MoneyOnMobile retailer eco-system, Fintech enablement, Digital India, etc. so let’s get started with the Q&A…

Can you walk us through the MoneyOnMobile – company, services, etc.

MoneyOnMobile is one of India’s largest mobile phone-based payment provider in India catering to the unbanked and under-banked population. We primarily operate through a well-connected network of distributors and retailers who are enabled with semi-closed payment instruments or pre-paid wallets to offer various financial services.

MoneyOnMobile offers a vast range of services including money transfer, bill payment, MOM Cart, MOM Capital, DTH payment, mobile recharge, travel tickets, two-wheeler insurance, etc. MOM ATM is another innovative solution that is worth a mention – it is a mobile point of sale device that enables brick and mortar stores or any existing MoneyOnMobile channel partner to facilitate cash withdrawals to customers by swiping their debit/ATM cards.

These services are offered on real time basis irrespective of geography, time and mobile operator within the country. The dynamic services of MoneyOnMobile can be activated through a simple SMS, APP or web portal.

MoneyOnMobile is headquartered in Mumbai in India and Dallas in the US.  I am based in the US along with Scott Arey – CFO and Will Dawson – COO. You can more details about it here.

There is a lot of push for Digital India and there is a major competition with different PSP’s like PayTm, PhonePe, including BHIMP from NPCI, what are some of the core differentiators of MoneyOnMobile vis-a-vis other PSP’s since most of them provide plethora of services like Mobile/DTH recharge, Money Transfer, Bus Booking, etc.

Today the top Payment Service Providers [PSP] present in the Indian market deal with cashless transactions. Their target audience primarily have active bank accounts and other necessary means like a network enabled smartphone. MoneyOnMobile however caters to the under-banked and unbanked population who deal with physical cash on daily basis.

Through us, customers can access online services by just walking up to a MoneyOnMobile enabled retailer store requesting for payment of bills, DTH services, travel booking, etc. and pay for products and services through physical cash. The retailer collects cash from the customer to complete the process by pushing notification to the customer’s mobile phone by means of a SMS – thereby also earning a small commission in the process.

Moreover, MoneyOnMobile has the capacity to handle low value transactions which opens up to a wider range of transaction opportunities for under-banked customers whose monthly income can be anywhere between 400-500 dollars or less. This is a huge disrupting factor vis-a-vis other players. MoneyOnMobile has also involved a low-cost processing approach that bypasses direct integration with banks or card networks; APIs is used to connect digitally with third parties. This reduces the cost and saves time which is essential for most customers. Check links 1 & 2 for reference.

Mr. Harold Montgomery, CEO – MoneyOnMobile

As MoneyOnMobile is mainly targeting the unbanked/BOP population, please comment on the market share of MoneyOnMobile in the digital payments [and services sector] and where does MoneyOnMobile team see the next level of growth in a diversified country like India ?

Since inception, MoneyOnMobile has signed up more than 350,000 retailers across 900 cities all over India. More than 2-billion-dollar worth of transaction has   taken place on behalf of 200 million Indian consumers with unique Indian phone numbers till date.

MoneyOnMobile caters to 600-800 million unbanked and under-banked population in comparison with other PSP players who cater to the remaining 200 million with active bank accounts. MoneyOnMobile plans to offer loans to shop owners via third parties and focus more on financial remittances sent within and outside India. Our more ambitious goal going forward is establishing 30,000 biometric-based MOM ATM systems by end of 2019 to support fee-based cash withdrawals throughout India. Refer this for more information.

There is a major push by the GOI for bringing more people under the banking umbrella, how does this shift affect MoneyOnMobile’s game play/growth plan and how does MoneyOnMobile plan to offer services if major population becomes banked ?

A recent World Bank report stated that around 19 crore adults do not have a bank account in India despite efforts from the Indian Government. Almost 50 percent of bank accounts under various schemes remained inactive in the past year, owing to different factors including poor accessibility to banks, inadequate financial literacy and non-existent of a robust network infrastructure in the country. Moreover, currency circulation had returned to near pre- demonetization levels as indicated from an analysis of credit and debit card usage in the previous financial year.

All this indicates that concept of physical cash transaction is not going anywhere despite bringing more people under the banking umbrella. India’s cash problem must be addressed at a much deeper level, this is an area MoneyOnMobile focuses to thrive and grow. MoneyOnMobile continues its effort to bring more retailers from the remotest parts of the country under its umbrella. In parallel, we also plan to diversify our service offerings, improve efficiency of transactions and add more MOM ATMs. More here, here and here.

Apart from customer experience, what are some of the advantages for a MoneyOnMobile AGENT in terms of commission, services, etc. so that he can recommend MoneyOnMobile over other PSP’s

MoneyOnMobile’s retailer assisted mobile payments model is structured to reward every member in the ecosystem –  distributors, merchants and retailers in this case.

Distributor agents typically scout and sign up retailers to enable MoneyOnMobile services. Every agent earns an incentive based on total payments volume each store/retailer under him/her generates. This acts as a great motivator for more distributors to register retailers who can bring in strong traffic in the area. Distributors are also encouraged to provide training and support to retailers who instill strong support system to grow.

Retailers earn through transaction based commission, once the retailer accepts cash from a consumer and directs the funds to the respective payee, the merchant gets a percentage of the profit gained from the transaction. MoneyOnMobile’s business model ensures all stakeholders involved in the network are benefitted from each transaction and this has helped in registering more than 350,000 retailers throughout India. More details can be found here.

Though Demonetization happened in 2016, it had a major impact on all the sectors, but it resulted in a huge push in Digital Payments, how much growth in volumes did MoneyOnMobile observe during that phase and how did you keep the users hooked after that exponential growth phase ?

Demonetization had a different impact on MoneyOnMobile. While it had given adequate boost to the growth of digital payment apps and wallets, MoneyOnMobile witnessed a slight decline due to shortage of cash, which is core to our business. But on longer, demonetization succeeded in boosting growth of digital transaction and adoption of digital payment methods in semi urban and rural areas. Eventually with cash returning back to the system coupled with consumer trust and understanding of the importance in digital remittances, we have witnessed considerable growth post demonetization.

The key attraction for retailers and consumers to continue using MoneyOnMobile is the combination of bringing different services to a single location that will help people save tremendous amount of time & money. Another is the cost of investment to use MoneyOnMobile; the fact that consumers need only a simple mobile phone to use these services is a huge plus factor. More here and here.

We thank Mr. Harold Montgomery, CEO – MoneyOnMobile for sharing his insights with our readers. If you are retailer and planning to join the ever expanding MoneyOnMobile network, please download the MoneyOnMobile Retailer Prima from here. MoneyOnMobile Wallet for consumers can be downloaded from here. If you have any questions for Mr. Harold or his team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.

Sqrrl Fintech, an app based investment platform, has raised $1 million during its Pre-Series A round of funding from investment firm Equanimity Venture Fund. The founders of the innovative startup state that by 2019 they want to reach one million customers and already boast customers in more than 500 of India’s cities. Fintech startups in India are riding high at present and Sqrrl have worked hard to be the leader of the pack.

Image Source – Funding

Startup success

Sqrrl was founded in May 2016 by Samant Sikka, Dhananjay Singh and Sanjeev Sharma. The app was developed specifically for young Indians to increase their saving and investment opportunities by offering high performing mutual funds based on investment needs and risk horizons and goals. The venture proved successful as following the launch of the app in March 2017, the company have reached 150,000 users on Android and iOS devices. And in little more than two years of creation they hit the $1 million mark.

Securing customers

76% of Sqrrl’s current users are aged under 35. Meanwhile, 61% of their user base live outside of India’s top 15 cities. The company are also working tirelessly to ensure their product reaches as much as the Indian population as possible by offering users the option of 9 different Indian languages. To achieve such growth in such a short amount of time, fintech creators have to work hard by cementing their idea and putting together a strict business plan to ensure they get the appropriate financial backing to allow them to progress forward with their startup.

The future of Sqrrl

Speaking about the $1 million raised, Sqrrl have promised that

The funds will be used to pursue aggressive growth and add to product suite. In addition, we aim to invest in new age technologies, particularly machine learning and artificial intelligence, to sharpen its product recommendation and further smoothen its on-boarding process.

Following a successful funding round, the Managing Partner of Equanimity Investments, Rajesh Sehjal will now join the board of Sqrrl to help push them further towards hitting their next business aspirations.

Sqrrl have managed great success in such a short space of time, proving that hard work, dedication and an innovative product can go a long way in the fintech industry. The future looks bright for the Indian fintech market and Sqrrl are pushing themselves to ensure they stay at the top of their game.

MoneyOnMobile, Inc., one of India’s largest phone-based mobile payment networks, announced the launch of the Reserve Bank of India’s payment service [Bharat Bill Payment] through the MoneyOnMobile retailer platform. The launch of this new service enables its retailers to meet the growing demand for digital payment services among the estimated 600-800 million unbanked/under-banked population of India, and increase the monthly spend of their existing customers. The eighty additional services cover a wide range of billers from electric, water, and gas utilities, to mobile bills and television recharge.

Harold Montgomery, CEO & Chairman, MoneyOnMobile, said

We are excited about the launch of the Bharat Bill Payment service on our retailer portal. We believe it will help MoneyOnMobile continue to transform the cash experience for retailers and their customers. With such a large number of services being added, consumers can convert their cash into digital payments to access more of the vital, everyday services that make their lives easier.

Will Dawson, Chief Operating Officer, MoneyOnMobile, said

Our goal is to help retailers deepen their engagement with the community they serve. By enabling new services being demanded by their customers, retailers are able to meet the growing demand, and be the ‘one-stop shop’ people can visit for access to financial services. This helps the company grow our retailer base, grow the share of consumer wallet, and increase retailer retention.

About MoneyOnMobile, Inc.

MoneyOnMobile, Inc. is an India focused mobile payments technology and processing company offering mobile payment services. MoneyOnMobile enables Indian consumers to use mobile phones to pay for goods and services or transfer funds from one cell phone to another. It can be used as simple SMS text functionality or through the MoneyOnMobile application or internet site. MoneyOnMobile has more than 350,000 retail locations throughout India.

About Bharat Bill Pay

The Bharat bill payment system is a RBI conceptualized system driven by NPCI. It is a one-stop ecosystem for payment of all bills providing an interoperable and accessible ‘Anytime Anywhere’ bill payment service to all customers across India with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions.

Bharat Bill Payment has multiple modes of payment and provides instant confirmation of payment via an SMS or receipt. It offers myriad bill collection categories like electricity, telecom, DTH, gas, water bills etc. through a single window.

CASHe, India’s most preferred digital lending company for young salaried millennials, promoted by serial entrepreneur and private equity investor V. Raman Kumar, has entered into a strategic partnership with BankBazaar, India’s leading neutral online marketplace, to offer its short-term personal loans on its online financial platform. Under the partnership, users of Bankbazaar.com will now have easy access to instant short-term credit facility from CASHe through its multiple loan options ranging from Rs 10,000 to Rs 200,000 payable over 15, 30, 90 days and 180 days.

The fintech company currently processes over 27,000 loan applications in a month and has achieved an overall loan disbursal of Rs 400 crores with 1.8 million app downloads and over 1.5 Lakh active users since launch of operations in April 2016. The company is aiming to achieve an overall loan disbursal of Rs 900 crores by March 2019.

Speaking about the partnership, Chairman of Aeries Financial Technologies, V. Raman Kumar, said

We are excited to partner with BankBazaar.com in this strategic tie up as it allows CASHe to be on BankBazar platform where our potential customers are present and comparing various personal loans from other financial institutions. BankBazaar.com’s customers will now benefit from CASHe’s best-in-class differentiated product suite in the retail loan segment.

This partnership also will help us expand our customer base exponentially with this leading neutral online marketplace recording over 90 million visitors in the last quarter of 2018. BankBazaar has been at the forefront in redefining the buying experience when it comes to the purchase of financial services for the Indian consumers. We are confident that this partnership will create a win-win situation for those customers who until now were being dropped off by lending institutions due to inadequate credit rating scores. CASHe with its social behavior filtering algorithm will allow access to such customers to a wide array of instant short-term personal loans on its lending platform.

Commenting on the collaboration, Navin Chandani, Chief Business Development Officer, BankBazaar, said

At BankBazaar.com, our mission is to help our customers access the widest range of financial products on our platform. Partnering with a fintech company like CASHe is a step in this direction. With CASHe’s integration, we are now able to offer short-term personal loans to our customers who otherwise would not qualify for loans by financial institutions that typically offer medium- to long-term loan products. We are very positive about this tie up with an agile and digitally focussed player like CASHe as we see a huge demand for a loan product offering that is instant, hassle-free and convenient.

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. Its user-friendly digital interface enables faster loan application process and quicker loan disbursal’s. CASHe provides hassle-free loans with its app enabled documentation and loan disbursal/repayment process. Powered by its industry-first algorithm driven credit scoring platform, Social Loan Quotient [SLQ], CASHe quickly determines a user’s credit worthiness by using multiple unique data points to arrive at a distinct credit profile of the customer. For more information, please visit CASHe