In a country where cash has usually been the go to medium for both small and large transactions, the growing number of FinTech companies in India are gradually introducing the country to a digital world of financial services.
Though cryptocurrencies are currently seeing a rise globally, it is still the more traditional services like lending and access to banking through technology that is the highlight of the Indian market. And it all seems to be working from the statistics available. The unbanked population in India in 2011 was about 557 million. In a span of barely 4 years, by 2015, this number had come down to 233 million – which is a sharp drop of almost half – as per a report made available via the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Payments Council of India (PCI). The Indian government launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana in 2014 to ensure every household in India has a bank account, and that’s the year in which about 182 million bank accounts were opened. That’s the average citizen’s side of things.
When a market the size of India with about 1.3 billion citizens transacts mostly using cash, a record of about 68% of all transactions in the nation just does not exist. This leads to a situation where those doing business in cash can easily evade sales and income tax. Which in return puts a strain on the government’s ability to spend on infrastructure, healthcare, education, etc. of what is now the world’s fastest growing economy.
To curb such common practice to a certain extent, the Government of India on 08th November, 2016 announced the immediate withdrawal of the high-denomination Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes from circulation in the nation. The announcement which was unscheduled put the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the entire banking system in a frenzy. As of 31st March 2016, the RBI annual report had stated that there were currency notes valued at 16.42 trillion rupees (USD 240 billion) in circulation – 86% of which, valued at 14.18 trillion rupees (USD 210 billion), were the Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
While India is still springing back from the shortage of currency notes, the adoption of plastic money in the general and recently banked population went up. At the same time several mobile wallet startups, who rely on their accounts being funded through a bank account transfer, saw an opportunity to drive adoption of P2P transfers via mobile phones. This worked especially in scenarios where smaller merchants did not have access to POS machines as they had always done business with cash. In a country with 1 billion mobile subscribers (as of 2016), where adoption of such wallets was still a challenge in the physical world, the government’s push for a Digital India did the trick.
With access to bank accounts, digital services such as e-commerce, and increasingly improving internet connectivity the average Indian citizen is not just banking online. Financial services such as payment gateways that facilitate e-commerce, P2P loans, lending for SMEs, low-cost POS machines, selling insurance online are all seeing definite growth.
Here are 11 FinTech startups in India to know about:
PayTM started off as a mobile recharge and utility bill payments. Funding from various large investors as Ant Financial, Alibaba Group the company has quickly evolved by providing varied services. These range from a mobile wallet, a dedicated e-commerce arm, to an RBI approved Payments Bank.
Total funding: $760 million
Key Investors: Ant Financial, Alibaba Group, Mountain Capital, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SAIF Partners, Saama Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Reliance Capital, MediaTek
Founder: Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Founded year: 2010
FreeCharge, known for its quirky and fresh interface, too started off in the mobile recharge and bill payments space. The acquisition of the company by Snapdeal, a major e-commerce player in India, in Apr 2015 allowed FreeCharge to build its presence in the digital payments space as well. Post the acquisition, in September 2015, the company launched a digital wallet to facilitate transactions across the FreeCharge and Snapdeal platforms.
Total funding: $117 million
Key Investors: Sequoia Capital, Sofina, ruNet, Tandon Group, Tybourne Capital Management, InnoVen Capital
Founders: Kunal Shah, Sandeep Tandon
Founded year: 2010
This digital payments startup in India founded by two young graduates out of Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee seems to be getting the right kind of attention for its agility. Chosen as one of NASSCOM’s ‘League of 10’ companies, raising investment at YCombinator’s Winter 2015 demo day, and getting a strategic investment from MasterCard as part of their ‘Start Path’ programme (the only one by the card scheme in an Indian FinTech company) all put together brought Razorpay in the limelight.
Total funding: $11.6 million
Key Investors: Tiger Global, MasterCard, YCombinator, Matrix Partners India, Kunal Bahl (Founder, SnapDeal), Kunal Shah (Founder, Freecharge), GMO VenturePartners
Founders: Shashank Kumar, Harshil Mathur
Founded year: 2013
BankBazaar brings access to comparing and applying for credit-based services from banks to its customers. This includes loans and credit cards. In 2015, an arm of BankBazaar called BankBazaar Insurance also brought the facility to buy insurance online through the website. The online portal claims to have about 8 million customers.
Total funding: $80 million
Key Investors: Amazon, Sequoia Capital, Walden International, Eight Roads Ventures
Founders: Adhil Shetty, Arjun Shetty, Rati Shetty
Founded year: 2008
LendingKart is an online enabler of access to collateral free working capital loans for small-and-medium-enterprises (SMEs) in India. The company refers to the applicant’s cash flow, credit history and customer experiences to evaluate the business. Funds offered range from INR 50 thousand to INR 1 crore (100 million rupees) with tenure of 1 month to 1 year. For a country of vast geographic and social scale, the service has gained quite some popularity while being based out of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat.
Total funding: $42 million
Key Investors: IFMR Trust, Saama Capital, Mayfield, Bertelsmann, India Quotient, Bertelsmann India Investments
Founders: Harshvardhan Lunia, Mukul Sachan
Founded year: 2014
Centred around customer service, transparency and clarity of the terms of various insurance options, PolicyBazaar is one of the largest online insurance brokers in India. Various kinds of insurance are categorised based on varying customer needs. The company has been getting consistent investments and aims to turn into a profitable one in 2017.
Total funding: $83 million
Key Investors: Info Edge India, Inventus Capital Partners, Intel Capital, Tiger Global Management, Ribbit Capital, ABG Capital, Steadview Capital, Premji Invest
Founders: Yashish Dahiya, Alok Bansal, Avaneesh Nirjar
Founded year: 2008
Founded by former Deutsche Bank executive, Bhupinder Singh, InCred provides SMEs, consumer/personal, home and education loans in the Indian market. Backed by another financial executive Anshu Jain, former Deutsche Bank co-CEO, among others gives InCred the hardcore mindset to deliver financial services at scale.
Total funding: $74 million
Key Investors: IDFC, Alpha Capital
Founder: Bhupinder Singh
Founded year: 2016
MobiKwik is another mobile wallet player in India which has recently benefited from the demonetisation in India. Mostly similar in its offering to customers like other competitors, the company has frequently tried various strategies like ‘cash-pick-up at home to load e-wallet’ aimed at the Indian customers habits.
Total funding: $127 million
Key Investors: American Express, Sequoia Capital, GMO, MediaTek, NET1, Cisco Investments, Tree Line Investment Management, InnoVen Capital
Founders: Upasana Taku, Bipin Preet Singh
Founded year: 2009
9. FINO PayTech
FINO PayTech is an institutional investor driven company which provides low-cost payment technology. Solutions include biometric-enabled Kiosk Banking for rural market, handheld device based banking transactions with biometric authentication, Financial Inclusion Gateway for effective business correspondent management. The company also works directly in micro-lending and micro-insurance through their Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) Intrepid Finance & Leasing.
Total funding: $110.5 million
Key Investors: ICICI Bank, IFMR Trust, HSBC Group, Life Insurance Corporation of India, IFC, Blackstone, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Intel Capital, Corporation Bank, Legatum, ICICI Lombard, Bharat Petroleum, Union Bank Of India, Indian Bank, Headlands Capital
Founders: Rishi Gupta, Rajeev Arora
Founded year: 2006
10. Pine Labs
Pine Labs provides retail point-of-sale (POS) machines to offline merchants to facilitate payments acceptance. With an estimated network of about 50000 merchants, the company is now led by CEO Lokvir Kapoor. In 2016, the company appointed former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin and Visa Global Head of Commercial Business Vicky Bindra as members of its board.
Total funding: $20 million
Key Investors: Sequoia Capital, New Atlantic Ventures
Founder: Rajul Garg
Founded year: 1998
Faircent is a P2P lending platform that connects borrowers and lenders to interact directly. Lenders can individually make offers to borrowers, which the borrower can accept or refuse. Offers are defined in terms of amount to be lent and the applicable interest rate. Both lenders and borrowers can interact and make transactions with multiple people. Faircent claims to eliminate the high margins which banks and financial institutions make on transactions, and pass it on to the customer as a saving on the services availed.
Total funding: $8.25 million
Key Investors: Aarin Capital, Brand Capital, JM Financial, M and S Capital Partners
Founders: Nitin Gupta, Rajat Gandhi, Vinay Mathews
Founded year: 2013