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.

Bahrain Development Bank [BDB] announced that the Al Waha Fund of Funds has successfully closed its $100 million fundraising round, making it the first active venture capital fund of funds in the region. The announcement marks an important milestone for the region’s growing startup ecosystem. It will provide additional capital to innovative and technology-driven startups in Bahrain and across the Middle East through venture capital funds currently established in Bahrain, and by attracting new funds to the region.

Image Source – Startups

The Limited Partners [LP] Advisory Committee met for the first time last week to close the US $100 million, setting the strategic direction of the fund, and approved the allocation of $35 million into a series of venture funds. The LPs include Mumtalakat, National Bank of Bahrain, Batelco Group, Tamkeen and Bahrain Development Bank, amongst others and where BDB is the GP managing the fund.

Commenting on the announcement, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chairman, Al Waha Fund of Funds Advisory Committee, said

We are very pleased to announce the successful closure of the fund and we have already made encouraging progress in allocating the capital raised. One of the key constraints on the development of the startup and technology ecosystem in the region is lack of access to capital – this fund can help to make a significant difference to that challenge, enabling entrepreneurs to realize the potential of their ideas.

The announcement follows the launch of the Al Waha Fund of Funds at Gateway Gulf Forum last month. Gateway Gulf Forum, brought together more than five hundred global investors and business leaders to explore how to unlock the opportunities being created by the economic transformation in the GCC.

Bahrain’s startup ecosystem has benefitted from a number of significant initiatives and reforms in recent years, as part of the Economic Vision 2030, delivered under the leadership of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board [EDB]. These include a reduction in the minimum capital required for starting a business, measures to enable onshore crowdfunding in conventional and shari’a-compliant finance and the introduction of a regulatory sandbox.

The fifth India International MSME Start Up Expo witnessed encouraging sessions for the young innovators by experts focusing on innovation, reformation and transformation at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. The key speakers at the event included Minister of State, Department of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution Shri CR Chaudhary, Chairman ITDC, UAE Shri SK Aggarwal, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Chairman Stic Travels Shri Subhash Goyal and many others.

The three-day event starting June 22-24, 2018 was spearhead by the MSME Development Forum, a not for profit organization, which has been at the forefront of growth and promotion of small businesses with a thrust on start-ups towards building entrepreneurs in India. The Forum works as a catalyst for interface between government and entrepreneurial activities and has been relentlessly working towards developing an entrepreneurial culture in the country.

Addressing the event, Minister of State, Department of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution – Shri CR Chaudhary, emphasised on encouraging young entrepreneurs, said

There is a need of more employment and export in the country. Employment is generated by new setups. Young people have new innovative ideas. In fact, more than 60% of stalls have been taken by young innovators country need. Even as per our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, youth should be encouraged to an entrepreneur. One must become service provider not service seeker. Thus, SMEs should be given more assistance and support. Only then the moto – ‘Perform, Reform and Transform’ will happen. People of Delhi and nearby areas should come and take advantage of the expo and should encourage new innovators.

Discussing about agriculture sector, Ministry of Agriculture – Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said

The two major problems of our agriculture sector are fragmentation of land and high pressure on resources. There is no capacity building in agriculture sector. MSME is the only way to revive the sector in India. The holistic solutions provided by the government have helped in improving the sector but to sustain it we need MSME involvement to take it further and this will help in doubling the income of the farmer.

Rajnish Goenka, Chairman, MSME – DF said

We are aiming to make India as World’s manufacturer and sourcing hub alternative to China. Importantly, we have also tried to create a political will among political parties to acknowledge this movement.

There were various topics covered in the on-going expo in different sessions that is Innovative Financing & Founding Opportunities for MSMEs & Startups, MSME in Tourism, Logistics & Service sector, Vendor Development in Railways, Defense & Govt/PSUs and Agri Business: Doubling Farmer’s income.

The agenda of the exposition is to promote entrepreneurship & self-employment to generate maximum job opportunities. The event will also provide one stop global platform to connect, network, partner and share information with Domestic & International SMEs to find new business opportunities in either country. The expo also aims to spread awareness about Government’s promotional schemes to make new Entrepreneur and transform job seekers to job creators. It accelerates growth of MSMES, Startups and Budding entrepreneur. In addition, it focuses to bring Small Entrepreneurs on a single platform and address their persistent issue and concerns. The agenda will also target to be the leading MSME Startup Advocacy Forum.

The event witnesses more than 20,000 visitors, 250 exhibitors, 100 B2G/B2B Meetings, 50 Embassies & Global Participants, 30 banks and investors, 15 PSUs-Government Departments and 10 concurrent summits.

SMARTup is a series of round table knowledge sharing and networking events being organized by ah! Ventures & meetingsandoffices as part of their endeavour to connect the start up fraternity and create valuable business centric conversations between domain specialists and entrepreneurs.

The focus of these events would be to deal with issues and problems that plague young companies and divert their focus from their core competences and business. Issues such as business planning and strategy development, aligning immediate and long term goals, generating investor interest, scaling a business, managing cash flows, building sticky relationships & customer loyalty, getting paying customers, regulations, compliance, understanding term sheets, understanding how to go about building your tech as a non-techie without a tech co-founder, sales and marketing processes, how to focus on and enhance the logic of business, what is the role of IoT in business, when do you need AI and what does Ai mean beyond chatbots for your business etc. will all be amongst the critical topics that would be covered under the series. [Source]

Note – Himanshu Sheth’s Blog is an Outreach Partner for the event !

SMARTup is a focused and enriched networking and knowledge sharing experience that will bring tremendous value to entrepreneurs and young businesses. Each SMARTup event shall have limited seating.

SMARTup has traveled across 10 cities in India and of the 190 startup companies that participated, 10 are already shortlisted for funding on the ah! Ventures Funding Platform. After having taken the SMARTup revolution to 10 Indian cities & Dubai, SMARTup is back at Bengaluru. SMARTup is offering at least 3 1-on-1 Meetings to all Gold Pass Startups at SMARTup Bengaluru with some of the best investors in South India. Book your 1-on-1 Meetings today & take your startup to new heights.

The event would be held at 91SpringBoard on the 7th of July. More details about SMARTup, Bengaluru can be found here.

For registration, please click on the link below

Happn, the hugely popular dating app which helps daters find people they have crossed paths with have today unveiled an innovative new element to their app – happn map.

Image Source – Happn

Launched in India in 2016, happn has been a huge hit with people on the lookout for romance, particularly in cities, as it uses geo-location to help individuals crush with those they have walked past in the street, sat next to on the train or spotted from afar who appear on their easy to view timeline. But now, the interactive mapping feature will give individuals the opportunity to tap any location they have visited over the past seven days and see other individuals on the lookout for love.

So – you remember crossing paths with someone that took your fancy three days ago, but you haven’t seen them since?  If you remember where, in a matter of seconds, just open the mapping feature, click on the location and see if they appear as the location of all happners you have crossed paths with over the past seven days will appear.  For example – if you were at a concert, a sporting event or a bar – he or she can find others at the same event – or within a 250 metres radius – and immediately have something in common!

The launch coincides with the announcement of happn having 50 million users worldwide which founder Didier Rappaport describes as ‘an incredible achievement for the team’.

Didier Rappaport, CEO and Co-founder – Happn, said

The crossing of paths between two people has always been the DNA of happn. With happn map, we go further in our promise by separating the dimensions of space and time, because time flies, but places stay still!  The profiles are no longer only sorted in chronological order and in real time but also according to your place of geographical crossings.

The new timeline we launched in spring quickly appealed to users as we saw a significant increase in their activity in the app.  However, we felt something was missing – the possibility of having an over-arching view of people you have crossed paths with is a massive win that we hope will be very popular.  Scroll your timeline or explore the map – it’s your choice!

happn is constantly evolving depending on the needs of their users.  Earlier in the year happn launched a new version of its timeline that allowed for more prominent and easier to read profiles while last month they announced a new ‘invisibility mode’ feature that gives users the freedom to make their profiles invisible during certain points in the day – something that has proved hugely popular in the workplace! The new mapping feature will use the same geo-location data that happn use already to help individuals scroll through their timeline.

There was a time when the basic necessities of mankind used to be Roti [Food], Kapda [Clothing] and Makaan [Shelter], but with fast-changing times, a fourth requirement has been added to the list i.e. Internet. Whether it is about buying clothing, electronics, ordering food or planning an outing with your near & dear ones, the fast penetrating medium of internet has made our lives simpler and important things accessible with a click of a button!

Image Source – Online Real Estate

Rise of online real-estate in India

One sector that has also changed significantly with this internet wave is the ‘Real Estate Sector’. The online real-estate market is expected to reach a staggering $180 billion by 2020. Implementation of government policies like Startup India, Housing For All and RERA [Real Estate Regulatory Authority] Bill have opened up new avenues for entrepreneurs as well as brought trust & focus on the housing sector in India. There was still a problem that had to be solved and the problem was how to enable the ‘buyers’ in a manner that they can choose the best interior decorators & designers to design their rooms or when consumers are looking for interior design for small spaces. This was a potential  ‘gap’ or an opportunity for entrepreneurs to help consumers in providing required architecture & design services in order to fulfill their dream of owning a dream home.

Fragmentation in the ‘Interior Decorator & Designer’ industry

Imagine that you have managed to purchase your dream home with your hard-earned money or as an entrepreneur you have managed to move to a bigger office space due to business expansion, the next hurdle that you might likely face is identifying the right interior decorator for getting the designing right for your home/office. There are slim chances of ‘easily’ shortlisting a well-qualified & experienced interior decorator for the task and implementing the same with minimal distress.

IDprop, a startup based in Ahmedabad is solving that problem and wants to make this entire experience friction-less and ensures that the humongous task of small space interior design, home and office is made easy for the end consumers.

Image Source – IDprop

IDprop – Disrupting the ‘Online Home & office interior design Market’ in India

IDprop is India’s fastest growing network of Home Improvement Professionals. IDprop has more than 11000+ professionals registered with them and has PAN India presence. As a customer who might be looking for furnishing the complete home; you get ‘verified’ options while looking out for interior decorators. Seller’s experience, expertise and recommendations are three major points on which they are evaluated, before they are on-boarded as a seller on the IDprop platform.

Since the sellers are rated for their work, there is transparency and a lower rating pushes the sellers to work on their mistakes & strive for providing a ‘WoW’ customer experience. Interior Decorators or Designers listed on their platform can get more leads for their business and get an opportunity to widen their customer base. As far as the funding is concerned, the Ahmedabad based startup is bootstrapped and is founded by a stellar team that has a vast experience in e-commerce, vendor management and technology. More details about the team can be found here.

IDprop – Conclusion

IDprop is creating real-value for all the stakeholders involved in the fragmented ‘home/office interior industry’ eco-system by bringing them on one single platform. Next time when you are looking to renovate or build interiors for new home/office or looking for small living room design ideas, expand your search horizon and turn to IDprop to narrow down your search…

Doodhwala, a subscription based, early morning delivery platform for fresh milk and other perishable groceries, has announced its expansion to Hyderabad. A household name across Bengaluru and Pune, Doodhwala currently supplies 30,000 liters of milk daily, along with other fresh products sourced directly from local farms and dairies.

Ebrahim Akbari, Doodhwala’s Co-Founder, said

Hyderabad is a milestone victory. We have proved our model in Bangalore and Pune by reaching 4 million orders till date. Our success in both these cities has helped us develop a great playbook for geographic expansion. By pairing our lean operating model with low inventory dependency and a rock bottom Rs 3.3 last mile delivery cost, we are poised to dominate the fresh grocery space.

[L-R] Doodhwala Founders Ebrahim Akbari and Aakaash Agrawal

Doodhwala will initially offer Hyderabad customers a huge variety of fresh milk and dairy products, and over time will add a selection of fresh grocery items including eggs, fruits, vegetables, juices, and breads.  In Bengaluru, the company has partnered with over 50 milk brands including organic and A2 dairy farms, to cater to the diverse needs of Doodhwala customers.

Aakash Agrawal, Doodhwala’s Co-Founder, said

The convenience of ordering milk and daily essentials on a subscription basis guarantees stickiness and reduces customer acquisition costs. Doodhwala has become a beloved part of the morning schedule for its rapidly growing customer base.  Doodhwala is expected to expand across 15 cities in the next two years. By 2021, over 10 million households will subscribe to Dooodhwala.

Commenting on the expansion, Mark Kahn, Founding Partner, Omnivore said

Doodhwala has the leanest e-grocer model in the industry and is well positioned for massive pan-India growth.

In February 2018, Doodhwala received 2.2 million in Seed funding from Omnivore, a venture fund focused on food and agriculture startups. Back in 2017, the company received angel funding from Thomas Varkey, a partner at Stonehill Capital.

About Doodhwala

Doodhwala is a subscription based, early morning delivery platform for fresh milk and other perishable groceries sourced directly from local farms and dairies.  Doodhwala offers customers a variety of fresh milk and dairy products, as well as eggs, fruit, fresh juice, vegetables, meat, and other daily essentials. Doodhwala customers use the company’s app to set their subscription schedule and receive their groceries for the day promptly before 7 am. Founded in 2015 by Aakash Agrawal and Ebrahim Akbari, Doodhwala, is present in Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad. For more information, please visit Doodhwala.