A very famous quote on investing says – ‘Risk & Rewards are two sides of the same coin’. This means that in most of the cases, higher the amount of risk involved chances of maximizing the returns are also very high! The investment portfolio of every person would differ since it is dependent on various 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

This is where emerging technologies like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence can play a vital role in creating a tailor-made investment plan based on your long-term and short financial requirements. Machine Learning has already the paved way into the Fintech market, be it approving loans, documentation, managing assets, etc. Many Fintech startups are leveraging machine learning, AI, Chatbots and helping banking institutions to either enhance the existing banking experience or creating kick-ass products in the areas of wealth management, personal finance, customer service, etc.

According to a report by Bloomberg, less than 1.5% of the Indian population invested in equity markets and only 2% of India’s household savings were exposed to equity. However, there is a rising interest to invest in financial instruments like Mutual Funds if they are given proper guidance.

This is the problem being solved by Sqrrl, a Fintech startup that was incubated at Reliance GenNext Hub and seeks to help young people save & invest in Mutual Funds in a hassle-free manner. Sqrrl also recommends great tax saving investments for its customers, keeping in mind a seamless experience. All this with the aim to help young Indians financially prosper! Today we have a chat with Mr. Samant Sikka, Founder of Sqrrl about the app, Fintech, Personal Finance, etc. so let’s get started with the Q&A…

How did your team come up with the idea of Sqrrl ?

Having spent almost two decades in financial services domain one was constantly exposed to challenges of building distribution in a country as diverse as India. I was always intrigued by the fact that in spite of six decades since independence financial services ecosystem was still struggling to provide access of financial services to its citizens. To my mind the single most important reason that came in the way of expanding financial services footprint was ‘Unit Economics’. Unit economics basically dictated who got access to financial products & services and also which type of products got sold.

Sometime in 2015 I started to absorb the impact that culmination of technology & internet was starting to have on democratizing ‘access’. E-commerce was starting to grain traction and people started getting access to goods and services hitherto restricted to larger cities and towns. 2 things stood out, given the economic prosperity over the 2 decades people had both aspirations and means to consume and were demanding better experiences. Internet had started to travel deeper in the country and social and digital were starting to have an impact on consumers behavior and consumption patterns.

Meanwhile, silently but surely there the impact of #RegTech and benefits of India Stack which were started to make tremendous traction on the two biggest friction areas in financial services, on-boarding & payments. The timing seemed to be just right neither too late neither too early.

Can you take us through the founding team of Sqrrl ?

Putting the challenges & opportunity together gave birth to the idea of Sqrrl. The vision being to build a digital platform aimed at millennials with an Initial offering is around savings & investment products powered by Mutual Funds and will expand to Loans, Insurance, Payments ultimately aspiring to morph into a digital bank. The idea aligned the founding team which brought wealth if experience & complementary skills sets .

Sqrrl is an interesting name for a ‘Fintech startup, how did you zero in on the name and how does the brand ‘Sqrrl’ get along with the moto of ‘building financial literacy among Indians’ ?

Sqrrl name was chosen with care. The animal embodies certain character that we stand for

  • Doer and Prudent,
  • Natural Intelligence,
  • Hi-Energy-Active-Nimble,
  • Saver and plans for future. hoards for winters in summers,
  • Good at balancing work & play,
  • Social

What is the TAM of the Fintech market that Sqrrl is trying to address ?

  • India’s Asset management Industry has grown at a CAGR of 21% over the last 17 years [ 2000-2017] is expected to grow to USD 700 billion by 2022.
  • Sqrrl aspires to be amongst the Top 10 players by 2022 with an Asset Under Management [AUM] of approx USD 14 billion and 12 million customers

There are number of Fintech platforms that are targeting a similar problem [as well as market], what according to you are some of the core USPs of Sqrrl when compared to its competitors ?

Sqrrl is different from existing players in many ways. Important ones are highlighted below:

  • Sqrrl has a customer persona which is in the age group of 25-35 years, salaried class, upwardly mobile and digitally savvy.
  • Sqrrl is a not a marketplace unlike many others. We personalize investments needs of individuals and match them with funds available in the industry.

Can you please walk us through the funding of Sqrrl ?

We have been bootstrapped from beginning of our journey. We are currently in funding raise discussion of about 1M USD with some VCs.

Once user has created an account on Sqrrl [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 ?

Sqrrl keeps monitoring all of the funds recommended by its team. We stay with our customers in their investment journey and keep guiding him with right decisions from time to time.

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

We are app only offering on iOS and Android

  • Our API layer is powered by Python [Falcon framework]
  • Our database is AWS RDS on PostgreSQL
  • Other than this we use many third party APIs

Sqrrl is currently limited to Mutual Funds, are there any plans/timeline on whether it would be expanded to cover other financial instruments ?

Yes, we have plans to launch loans and insurance products in future.

What are some of the methodologies that your team use in order to keep the investors hooked on to the platform ?

We have a way to connect with customers in 360 degree way. Our customer success team keeps talking them on Email, Phone, SMS, Whatsapp in addition to in-app communications.

L-R : Sanjeev Sharma, Co-Founder; Samant Sikka, Founder and Dhananjay Kumar Singh, Co-Founder

Sqrrl was incubated in Reliance GenNext Hub, how was the experience in the accelerator program and how did the program help your team to validate & scale the startup ?

The program was really of great help in helping us with product market fit study and beyond. They really helped in methodical product market fit. In addition to product market fit, customer traction strategy and its execution planning was done with them.

Are there any setup charges or any other charges that customers have to pay to use the Platform ? Do you charge any withdrawal or closure charges for the Sqrrl’s recommended funds ?

There are no setup charges to use Sqrrl. However there may be early withdrawal charges for some funds before initial lock-in period.

Which are some of the AMC’s that are currently on-boarded on the Sqrrl platform ?

There are 17 AMC that are there with Sqrrl. It covers 91% of the industry AUM

As you have mentioned earlier, Sqrrl aims to encourage Indians to save more. There are various investor initiatives like #MFDayon7th by Reliance MF and CNBC TV18, does Sqrrl have plans of starting an investor education initiative [or something else] in order to widen the horizon of passive investors [that could be an integral part of the investors eco-system, but don’t know where to get started] ?

The ecosystem is doing a great job in educating investors. AMFI is doing great job in communication like ‘Mutual Funds Sahi Hai’. AMCs themselves have different plans. Sqrrl plans to use these and some of its own to launch education awareness. We are working on them.

Many fintech companies, namely PayTm [or PaytmMoney], FreeCharge, PhonePe, etc. are planning to have boutique of finance products on their platform, does this growing competition have an impact on a startup like Sqrrl and how it would the competition result in expansion of the fintech ecosystem ?

It is good that this space is getting its validation by entry of bigger players. There will always be space for early movers like Sqrrl based on its customer service differentiation.

Can you comment on the ‘Customer/Investor’ demographics that are currently using the Sqrrl Platform ?

  • 90% of the users are under age 40 years.
  • 61% of the users are from B15 [beyond top 15] cities.
  • We have coverage from over 700 cities of India.

What is the revenue model of Sqrrl and does it follow the Freemium model ?

We get distribution fee from the underlying Mutual Funds.

Along with the integrated AMC approach, building investor portfolio as per his requirements, etc. does your team also provide advisory services ? If not, what are some of the services that you plan to offer in future [especially with the Mutual Fund Products] ?

We are not providing advisory services now but we are open to embrace this in future.

How Fintech is shaping up the Financial Eco-system in India and how technologies like Blockchain will bring the next wave of Fintech revolution ?

Blockchain and its acceptance is in very early stage. Most of the work is happening in Crypto exchanges. We are open to exploring something on blockchain which is widely accepted.

Some books that you highly recommend for entrepreneurs

  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • The Lean Statup by Eric Ries
  • Traction : How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg

Some closing thoughts for our readers!

As Bill Gates says, ‘If you are born poor its not your mistake, But if you die poor its your mistake.‘ Sqrrl is a platform available for every Indian to manage their money.

We thank Mr. Samant Sikka for sharing his insights with our readers. If you are planning to put your money to work via smart investments, then you should download Sqrrl. If you have any questions for Samant or the Sqrrl Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.

India’s largest online lending marketplace Paisabazaar has entered into a partnership with Microsoft to drive ‘industry first’ technology innovations on its platform using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. As part of the overall partnership, Paisabazaar.com will move its entire infrastructure to Microsoft Azure.

Being India’s largest digital lending platform, Paisabazaar.com receives customers from varied segments from more than 750 cities and towns across India every month. By building cutting-edge technology on Microsoft cloud, Paisabazaar intends to offer customized, tailor-made and secure solutions for each consumer coming to its platform.

Paisabazaar will work extensively on futuristic technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to benefit customers in three key ways:

  • It will help identify customer needs more accurately, factoring in their lifestyle and life-stage.
  • It will help sharpen product recommendations and underwriting decisions. This will also expedite the processes on the Paisabazaar platform through further automation and digitization, in line with its philosophy of creating ‘paperless’ and ‘presence-less’ processes.
  • It will build innovative features like chat-bots, image recognition, voice analytics and language processing to take the customer experience to the next level.

Naveen Kukreja, CEO & Co-founder, Paisabazaar.com, said

At Paisabazaar.com, one of our aims is to simplify personal finance for our customers through technology. We are excited to partner with Microsoft in this journey where we would, together, not only delight consumers through a never-seen-before digital experience, but also help them save both time and money through more customized solutions.

Meetul Patel, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft India said

We are happy to partner with Paisabazaar.com in their endeavour to deliver an innovative and unique customer experience. This partnership will enable Paisabaazar to utilize the power of Microsoft’s cutting edge AI services to develop novel solutions and deliver greater value to their rapidly growing customer base.

Jagmal Singh, CTO, Paisabazaar.com, said

The traffic on the Paisabazaar platform is growing at 350% annually. Microsoft’s cloud-based system would help us not just create a frictionless experience but also world class data analysis systems. Both Paisabazaar and Microsoft are committed to build new technologies that will create a new normal in the financial services industry.

In sync with the Government’s recent financial technology announcements under its Digital India initiative, Paisabazaar, in partnership with Microsoft continues to enable financial growth for, both, individuals and MSMEs through world class digital financial management.

Scripbox was awarded the ‘Best Innovative wealth, asset and investment management service/product‘ by the Internet and Mobile Association of India [IAMAI] at the 8th India Digital Awards held last week. The awards were part of the 12th India Digital Summit held in Delhi. IAMAI’s India Digital Awards recognizes and rewards organizations, teams and practitioners who deliver successful business outcomes using the digital medium.Scripbox uses proprietary algorithms to simplify and automate the steps required for successful mutual fund investment. Human errors and bias are removed as the algorithm recommends the best mutual funds to invest your money in. Additionally, best investment practices such as periodic review and refreshing of funds are also automated by Scripbox. Since their inception in 2012, they have enabled over 1.1 million investment transactions.

Speaking about the award, E.R. Ashok Kumar, CEO and Co-founder of Scripbox, said

It is a proud moment for us to have our efforts recognized by IAMAI. We have been focused on delivering customer focused innovation and doing what is best for the customer in personal finance. This award will go a long way in encouraging us and endorsing our efforts.

Union Minister for Commerce and Industries Suresh Prabhu and NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant attended the IAMAI 12th India Digital Summit which concluded with the 8th India Digital Awards. IAMAI is the only representative body of Internet Services business in India. IAMAI is a not-for-profit industry body which champions the interests of India’s internet services business among government, investors, consumers and other stakeholders.

About Scripbox

Scripbox is India’s most trusted online investment service. Scripbox simplifies the journey of wealth creation with jargon free and unbiased automated investing – scientifically choosing the best funds to invest your money in. Established in 2012, Scripbox today has over 3,50,000 subscribers across 1150 cities & towns who have invested over Rs.650+ crore of their savings with the company. For more information, please visit ScripBox, also available on Android and iOS.

Biz2Credit Inc., a leading online marketplace and innovator in digital platforms for banks and other financial services providers, has announced the inaugural Frontiers of Digital Finance Conference, India Chapter, taking place in Mumbai on the 7th of March, 2018.

Part of a series of conferences first hosted in New York City in October 2017, this by-invite only conference will be held at Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai with participation from senior practitioners, government, regulators, and industry stakeholders such as entrepreneurs, executives and start-ups.

The event will focus on the rapid evolution of digital finance in India with a candid appraisal of the challenges and the opportunities that encompass customer, policy and technology within the Indian context. The conference will highlight issues in digital credit, convergence of payments with lending and the role of Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] in enhancing the customer experience and risk management. Following the India Chapter, the event will continue on to Singapore and London before reverting back to New York City. Conference partners include FICCI, USISPF, Edelweiss, AWS, IBM, Tata Capital, Mahindra Finance, PWC, BAIN & Company and Columbia Data Science School.

Rohit Arora, Co-founder and CEO, Biz2Credit, said

The Indian financial services sector is at the cusp of a revolution. However, the country’s bid for robust financial inclusion demands a more resilient delivery of financial services. With this conference, we aim to bring together key influencers, decision makers and industry leaders to drive a robust discussion on the health of the FinTech sector, the policy implications driving the growth of digital finance and how integrated and open systems are enabling this transformation.

With the Frontiers of Digital Finance conference, we hope to contribute in building a knowledge ecosystem, bolstering innovation and enabling financial inclusion and better access to credit for individuals and SMEs

Presenters for Frontiers of Digital Finance Conference, India Chapter – Senior leaders from Edelweiss, AWS, IBM, FICCI, TATA Capital, Mahindra, Odger, SNG partners, NSDL Master Card and other leading Financial Institutions in India and senior regulators.

Agenda of Frontiers of Digital Finance Conference, India Chapter – Roundtable with two keynote addresses, two moderated one-on-one interviews with CEOs, three distinguished speaker panels. It will be followed by a widely circulated Digital Finance White Paper – India Chapter summarizing major conference themes accompanied by speaker quotes.

For more information on the conference or to register, please visit Digital Finance Conference.

About Biz2Credit

Founded in 2007, Biz2Credit has arranged more than $2 billion in small business financing and was named to Crain’s New York’s Fast 50 and the top 200 of fast-growing companies on Deloitte’s 2017 Technology Fast 500. Biz2Credit is expanding its industry-leading technology in custom digital platform solutions for leading banks and other financial institutions, investors and service providers in the US and abroad. For more information, please visit Biz2Credit

Synechron, a global financial services consulting and technology services provider, has today revealed the top trends it expects to see in financial services technology in 2018. These priorities touch on six key themes – Innovation, User Experience [UX] Design, Risk, Regulatory Technology [RegTech], Data, and the Cloud – that cut horizontally across the business and therefore are driving enterprise financial services decision-making.

Image Source – Fintech

Based on Synechron’s work with the world’s largest global tier one investment banks and insurance companies, the company has identified the following top priorities for 2018.

Innovation – will focus on taking proven new technologies from pilot to production 

Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence [AI] will continue to dominate in 2018. Where last year was focused on blockchain-pilots, 2018 will be focused on production. As a result, there will be a stronger emphasis on the architecture and interoperability needed to support this approach.

For AI, development will move away from simple automation and focus on cognitive use cases across sales, trading, wealth management and compliance. Cognitive RPA will be a critical bridge in moving from advanced robotics to real cognitive learning.

User Experience Design [UX] – will increase in importance for new B2C and B2B proto-types

In 2018, firms can expect to see experience design applied to immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality [AR] and Virtual Reality [VR], with the aim to improve customer experience. Combined with Natural Language Processing and Machine learning, best practices for UX development will be re-defined for both external customers and internal employees, leveraging the immersive nature of the technologies to create new, meaningful experiences and gamified processes especially in areas like account onboarding.

Risk – will focus more on real-time analytics and automation

Whereas 2017 focused on implementing new regulations focused on risk like Basel III, 2018 will shift to more enterprise-wide risk management techniques. To match the increasingly fast-paced environment of financial services, firms will need to improve real-time risk analysis, supported by AI, to fulfil the changing needs of the organization.

RegTech – will expand beyond KYC-centric use cases which largely dominate the space to take a tech-first approach to all new regulations

With major regulatory changes on the horizon in 2018, RegTech will have a vital role to play as firms move beyond initial MiFID II compliance to gain more long-term benefits from the regulation and take a tech-first approach to their compliance with newer regulations like Fundamental Review of Trading Book [FRTB] and Consolidated Audit Trail [CAT] compliance. Tech-first regulatory compliance will lay the foundation for greater economies of scale across data, analytics, and related risk.

Data – will get bigger as big data initiatives push more intelligent and more open business models and better data tools and visualizations 

While preparations for data standardization began in 2017, firms are still relying on legacy data architecture and infrastructure, and moving past these systems will be a main focus on data in 2018.

To comply with new data requirements like General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR] and Payment Services Directive [PSD] II, new data infrastructure will be required. Data virtualization, data lineage, & data visualization will also become increasingly important to gain additional value and intelligence from data.

Cloud – will begin to be considered for mission critical infrastructure

In 2017, banks began to move non-mission critical applications into the cloud, and in 2018 cloud adoption will be more widespread with a focus on security and regulatory compliance. Trends like the use of Open APIs will further drive adoption of the cloud for consumer applications in 2018, and place pressure on banks to create more open, cloud-enabled business models and applications.

As per Faisal Husain, Co-founder and CEO at Synechron,

2018 will continue to be an exciting and dynamic time for financial services. We expect that this year will see the culmination of some key technologies that aim to provide more effective methods of doing business, whether that is more intelligent AI, a more comprehensive use of blockchain or even business compliance ahead of Brexit. We cannot wait to see what 2018 will bring and look forward to leading the way on all these fronts.

About Synechron

Synechron is a global consulting and technology organization providing innovative solutions to the financial services industry through its three main business focus areas: digital, business consulting, and technology. Based in New York, the company has 18 offices around the globe, with over 8,000+ employees producing over $500+M in annual revenue. For more information, please visit Synechron

Paytm QR now lets merchants accept Paytm, UPI and Card Payments directly into their Bank Account at 0%. Also, there is no monthly limit on accepting payments from customers. This will in turn make it easier for small and large merchants to accept mobile payments from a wider set of customers, and boost their businesses. It will also give more choice and convenience to consumers as they can now scan Paytm QR at merchant stores and pay using their preferred payment methods.

Here’s how to generate Paytm QR instantly

Give a missed call on +919004790047 or follow these steps:

  • Log on to Paytm for Business and click on Sign up for free
  • Enter Name & PAN or Aadhar Number

Fill in Business & Bank details, and Paytm QR is instantly generated

Merchants can print the QR and put it up in their shops, and start accepting Paytm

Paytm QR has eliminated the need for additional spends on POS machines for merchants and has been supporting them in their day-to-day business. Currently, Paytm offers customers the widest range of offline and in-store payment use-cases including parking, tolls, kirana stores, utility, temples, local transport, railway & metros, school & college fee and challan among others.

There is a very interesting thread on Quora about the ‘Percentage of Salaried Class’ in India and though the thread has very interesting answers, one thing that is common across any salaried person [be it employee in  the organized or unorganized sector] is that each one of them wants to maximize their take-home salary. Salaried professionals who are paying tax are always on the look-out to save extra so that can pay less taxes. If you consider the Blue-collar workers, many workers might not fit in the ‘Tax Slab’ and some of them might still not even have a salaried account.

There was a definitive requirement for a product – ‘Digital Banking system‘, that could cater to both the White-collar and the Blue-collar segment. There has been very little innovation made in the banking requirements for the SME and MSME segment. This is where two entrepreneurs Vinay Bagri and Virender Bisht sensed an opportunity and they co-founded NiYO, a fintech company based out of Bengaluru. NiYO helps you maximize your take home salary by enabling you to track, manage and claim various tax benefits like food, gift, medical, fuel, travel, phone etc. NiYO consists of three important components, namely NiYO app that makes mobile banking easy, NiYO corporate portal that is accessible by its corporate clients and NiYO all-in-one card that has role-based entity.

The core-objective of NiYO is ‘Put salary where it truly belongs – in the employee’s hands.’ We had a discussion with Vinay Bagri, Co-founder and CEO, NiYO Solutions about the NiYO app, the overall market being addressed, how NiYO can help employees increase their take home salary, their fintech platform, future road-map, etc. So, let’s get started with the Q&A…

Can you walk us through the NiYO platform that can be used by white-collar employees ?

NiYO is a digital platform for salaried employees. When we talk about salaried employees, they are broadly classified into two categories – White collar employees and Blue collar employees.

NiYO started with a product for white collar employees that is primarily into taxation. There are total 22 items where tax can be saved by the employees. Employees can avail tax benefits across 10~11 items like LIC Premium, Savings under 80C/80G, HRA, etc. Employees have control over other 10~11 items namely LTA, medical allowance, gift vouchers, meal vouchers, etc. Employee and Employer have to work in tandem in order to avail these tax benefits.

How does NiYO helps in maximizing an employee’s take-home salary ?

What NiYO does is that it optimizes these taxation items for employee as well as employer. For employer perspective, NiYO makes these items paperless, easy to maintain and ensure that they are audit and tax compliant.

From employee perspective, employees can avail more benefits since the employer is now able to pass more benefits to the employee. In that process, emoployees are now able to significantly increase their take-home salary. NiYO also offers a virtual bank account.

What are some of the core components of the NiYO platform and what are some of the USP’s of the product ?

The core product of NiYO consists of three main components:

NiYO offers a virtual as well as physical card. Unlike other cards that are offered by other companies, the card offered by NiYO is a combination of debit, credit and prepaid card and it plays an appropriate role based on the outlet/location where the card is being used. For example, when a NiYO user tries to withdraw money, it acts as a ‘Debit Card‘. When user swipes the card at a food outlet, it automatically pulls money from the ‘Food Wallet‘. When an employee/user uses the card for a transaction when (s)he is on an official trip and swipes the card for a reimburseable item, it takes the shape of a ‘Credit Card‘.

In a nutshell, the card that is offered from NiYO is a combination of Debit card, Prepaid card and Credit card.

What are some of the main pain points that are solved by NiYO ?

NiYO solves two major pain points:

  1. Users now have the convinience, where they need not carry more number of cards since the card offering from NiYO is an all-in-one card.
  2. Since our system is intelligent enough to identify the ‘type’ of transaction, it helps employees in saving more from their salary.
Founders of NiYO [L to R] – Virender Bisht and Vinay Bagri [Source]

Please walk us through the NiYO mobile app and walk us through some of the interesting features of the app ?

The mobile app from NiYO has all the major mobile banking features. Employees can attach bills/other expense reports used for official purpose as a proof of expense to the mobile app. In order to ensure that there are no submission of fake bills by the employees, employer gets an intimation when the card is swiped for a transaction. This step acts as a ‘Proof of Payment‘. To take the security to the next level, employee has to also attach the copy of the bill at the location where the card is used. This mechanism is termed as a ‘Proof of Expenditure‘.

This lethal combination of Proof of Payment and Proof of Expenditure is an ideal way for our customers/organizations to make the reimbursement process tax & audit compliant and at the same time ensure that there is ‘zero fraud’ done during the time of submission of bills.

How do your ‘corporate’ clients ensure the authenticity of the transactions and facilities available at their front ?

HR department from NiYO’s client organizations would have access to the corporate portal where they can view the details of the transactions incurred by an employee ‘X’. The employer would have access to the details of the transactions where employees have applied for a reimbursement.

What are some of the advantages of the NiYO card over offerings by players like Sodexho ?

There are number of benefits of the card offered by NiYO when compared to offerings from Sodexho, some of them are listed below:

  1. Sodexho is a single wallet card that can only be used for food items. On the other hand, the card from NiYO can do much more as already discussed earlier and these facilities are availble on a single platform.
  2. With NiYO, you can use the card at any food outlet where they accept payment via VISA/Master/RuPay cards. Sodexho can only be used at around 40K food outlets where they have tie-ups. NiYO has more reach which is close to around one million outlets.
  3. NiYO also has a very interesting feature – split wallet. For example, if 3K is spent at a food outlet but NiYO’s customer [Employee] has only 2K in the food wallet, split wallet feature comes into action. In such a scenario, NiYO would automatically deduct 2K from the the Food card and remaining 1K would be deducted from the Credit card. In this process, a single transaction is automatically optimized for taxation benefits. NiYO acts as a technology provider and for the card, NiYO has tied-up with couple of banks.

Can you talk about the market size for a service like NiYO ?

There are close to 27 ~ 30 million salaried people in India who pay some kind of taxes. NiYO can be used as a salaried account/travel expense product/a fintech product where an employee can do ‘Financial Planning‘. Hence, NiYO would become a full fledged banking product for the employee.

Please share some insights into the Gift card aspects of the NiYO card ?

As far as corporate gifting is concerned, gifts worth INR 4900 are tax-free, beyond which the expense becomes taxable. There is a ‘segregation’ feature on the gift card wallet in order to ensure that an employee gets maximum tax benefits. Hence, there is no requirement for a seperate gift card and NiYO’s client [organization] can seamlessly load money in the gift wallet.

Morever, all the features on the card are customizable and they can be controlled via the ‘Employer portal’. Employers are free to keep it as an ‘open system‘ or a ‘closed system‘. To summarize, NiYO is currently the only player that has all these features with no competition as of now.

What are some of the features around financial planning on the NiYO platform

For tax and financial planning, NiYO has tied-up with H&R Block, which is one of the largest tax planning companies in India. From the NiYO app, an employee can do tax planning, plan savings, etc. There is an option for ‘Self tax planning & assisted filing‘, where someone from the H&R Block would call NiYO corporate customer and provide necessary support.

How has been the overall response to the NiYO App ?

Feedback has been very good, but there is an increasing demand for features like add-on card, etc. The core USP of the NiYO app is the best in-class ‘field process’. For example, you can attach a proof of insurance towards 80D on the NiYO app itself and the review would be either performed by the employee’s finance team or finance experts from the NiYO team. With such facilities at their persual, employees need not visit any other portal for financial planning.

As of today, NiYO has more than one Lakh customers/corporate employees using the NiYO platform. Out of one Lakh customers, around 60K customers use NiYO as a ‘salary account’. NiYO is also used by blue-collar workers that have salary of less than 15,000. None of the financial institutions want to open salary accounts for blue-collar segment and even if the bank does so, they charge fees and there is a minimum balance requirement.

With a nominal fee, NiYO can open a digital salary account. Everything is eKYC compliant and there is no paperwork involved. Messages sent to NiYO’s blue-collar customers are in vernacular language i.e. Hindi since NiYO for blue-collar workers is only rolled-out in North India. Card is charged for everyone, which is close to around 200 INR per year.

Can you share the product roadmap of NiYO?

In the future, NiYO will provide our customers with all the advice related to taxation and financial planning. Unlike other financial platforms, NiYO would consider taxation as a major factor for financial planning. For example, investing in a good Mutual Fund would yield 12~14% returns on a CAGR basis whereas investmets made via the NiYO platform would result in much more returns on the same investment.

Also, our customers can use the NiYO app to do a QR Code transaction since it would be leveraging the Bharat QR code mechanism. Our customers can opt for doing a payment via Unified Payment Interface [UPI]. The end goal of NiYO is to encourage employees go shift to ‘Spend and Forget mode’ since NiYO would be responsible for complete tax planning and savings.

We thank  Vinay Bagri for sharing his insights with our readers. If you are an SME and on the look-out for some good payroll solution, do give NiYO a spin. If have any questions for him or the NiYO Team, please email them here or share them via a comment to this article.

India’s largest mobile-first financial services platform, Paytm has introduced Paytm Loyalty Points which customers can earn doing multiple activities within its ecosystem. To start with, all cashbacks that customers receive on the platform will be accumulated as ‘Paytm Loyalty Points’.

These points can then be redeemed across online platforms as well as over 5 million merchant outlets that accept Paytm. The company, which will also introduce more features in this offering in the coming year, aims to reward its vast user base and encourage them to transact digitally. This will further help Paytm’s offline merchant partners increase their business opportunities.

Paytm has created a wide ecosystem where it offers services such as recharges and utility payments, movies/flights/bus tickets booking among others. It is also a preferred payment method across major online platforms. Moreover, the company’s widely-accepted Paytm QR enables millions of offline merchants to accept Paytm, UPI and Card payments directly into their bank accounts at 0% charge.

With Paytm Loyalty Points, the platform aims to bring this entire ecosystem together and enable users to earn, accumulate and redeem anytime, anywhere. For instance: If a customer walks into his neighborhood store, he can scan Paytm QR and redeem his loyalty points.

Deepak Abbot, Senior Vice President – Paytm, said

We are extremely grateful to our millions of users who make us the most preferred payments platform in the country. With Paytm Loyalty Points, we are providing an exciting experience to our users who can now earn and redeem loyalty points while transacting on Paytm or at any major online platform and offline merchant outlets. This will further encourage our users to keep transacting using Paytm, and drive business growth for our merchant partners.