The Smart CEO-IDA Ireland Roundtable on Fintech

Earlier this month, over 15 entrepreneurs and business leaders from India’s emerging fintech ecosystem gathered at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, for a peer-to-peer learning session on the role of technology in financial services. We handpicked entrepreneurs from various sub-categories within fintech: digital lending, peer-to-peer lending, smart card manufacturers, fraud prevention software, ATM management, wallets, financial inclusion-tech, personal finance/robo-advisors, and many such areas. The inputs from the discussion will also make its way to the Fintech 35 Report, to be published by The Smart CEO Deep Insights, our client-facing custom research division. The Fintech 35 Report will be published on behalf of our client, IDA Ireland.

In an interview with The Smart CEO, Bala Srinivasa, Partner at venture capital firm Kalaari Capital, told us that compared to Fintech companies in the West, India is still grappling with a sizable population of over 500 million people, who have little or no access to basic financial products and services. This is further accentuated by lack of a robust financial infrastructure. However, the recent focus by the Government of India to drive the sector’s growth with the  launch of India Stack, Aadhar, UPI, eKYC and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (under which 250 million+ bank accounts have been created so far) has evinced a fair amount of entrepreneurial interest. Yet, it is still early days, and it was important to understand the finer nuances of what such new developments mean to entrepreneurs and leaders.

At The Smart CEO, we have always sought out insights from leaders to understand the issues burdening a sector and present it to the right audience. In line with this thinking, we started conducting closed door roundtable sessions in various cities, with an intention of doing something more meaningful and deeper for each sector.

The Fintech Roundtable was one such, and it was peer-to-peer learning at its best. There were insights shared on hiring (and firing!), unique marketing concepts, approach to product development, go-to-market strategies and dealing with constantly evolving regulations.

Here we share a few images captured from the Roundtable, along with a quick glance at some of the key points made. Of course, our Fintech 35 Report, which will be published shortly, will include deeper insights, data, information and a highly analytical take on the big opportunities that lie ahead for fintech entrepreneurs.

Here’s a quick set of takeaways from the discussion:

  • While the opportunities for fintech entrepreneurs is tremendous, a lot of the digital fintech work that is happening is still focused towards the 15 major cities.  Rishi Gupta of FINO Paytech, urged his peers to explore similar opportunities in Bharath (tier-2,3 and 4 cities and rural India).
  • At macro level, UPI, eKYC, Aadhaar are every exciting. Yet, there is still a lot of manual paperwork to be done; Processes and regulations are continuously changing. Piyush Khaitan of NeoGrowth, urged his entrepreneur peers to explore RegTech, as a sector, develop a process of dealing with changing regulations using technology.
  • Alternate data sources to analyse credit worthiness is critical for Digital Lending. Siddharth Mahanot, CoFounder & COO of SME lending firm, Indifi and Rajiv Raj, Co-Founder, CreditVidya, a credit analysis firm, gave us a personal take on what these alternate data sources could be.
  • Rahul Parikh Head – Aditya Birla – MyUniverse, spoke about the opportunity he has to build a startup within a large family business house. For a sector like Fintech, a startup culture coupled with the backing of a well-known brand can be crucial.
  • Srikanth Meenakshi, founder & CEO, FundsIndia, spoke about the progress his online platform for Mutual Funds had made, especially among younger professionals, enabling them to invest with little friction. He emphasised on ease-of-delivery as a critical aspect to win the market. Meenakshi also believes access to venture capital for the sector has given it much needed impetus.
  • Rivi Varghese, Founder & CEO, CustomerXPS, a fraud management software company serving global fintech clients, wasn’t gung-ho about the funding environment, but was excited about the customer traction his venture was seeing from around the world.
  • Most entrepreneurs believed that hiring is always a challenge across all three levels – senior, middle management and junior levels. Mukesh Bubna, Founder & CEO of Monexo, believes that, the challenges of rest of the startup ecosystem (especially consumer internet), was not helping other startups that had fundamentally strong business models.
  • Priti Shah, Co-founder & CEO at Paynear; Harish Prabhu, COO, Electronic Payment Systems; Sudarshan Motwani, founder & CEO, BookMyForex, Puneet Agarwal, founder & CEO, MoneyView; Deven Mehta, CMD, Smart Card IT Solutions; Salil Mody, Head – Product & Strategy, Udio; were the other entrepreneurs who joined the discussion.

Stay tuned to our announcement on the launch of the Fintech 35 Report.