Bharat Inclusion Sprint — Pune

By Sandeep Koujalgi

Post-Event Picture with the Startups, Speakers and Bharat Inclusion Team at MCCIA Pune

The Bharat Inclusion Sprint at Pune started with a keynote address by India’s Prime Minister (OK. We’re kidding!). At the Singapore Fintech Festival, the Prime Minister spoke of the coming together of fintech, mobile and Aadhaar to deliver 330 million new bank accounts — each being a source of identity, dignity and opportunity — and creating world’s largest public digital infrastructure. Interestingly, more than half the duration of the talk was taken up by financial inclusion. For interesting data points on how India is achieving inclusion, please feel free to watch the keynote address here.

Yet, there is a significant way to go in terms of achieving meaningful inclusion and provide the masses of India with financial products that they need. Some such possibilities were discussed in our first session — Financial Inclusion Innovations at the Bottom of the Pyramid by Sagar Wadkar and Anshu Singh, professors at Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management (VAMNICOM). VAMNICOM is a premier institute that operates at the heart of India’s vibrant co-operative movement and a key knowledge and training partner to many co-operative banks. The speakers’ unique perspectives were interspersed with new possibilities that are often overlooked by fintech entrepreneurs. Some takeaways from the session -

  1. Financial Inclusion as defined by access has risen considerably, though usage is still a challenge
  2. From the Global FIndex Report — Over half of India’s unbanked adults already have a mobile phone, leading to the possibility of leapfrogging directly to mobile payments
  3. Fintechs often look to work with Commercial Banks and NBFC while ignoring other possible partners such as Cooperative banks, PACS, SHGs etc. who have a reach way beyond that of the former. And these incumbents are hungry to adopt technology and offer newer financial products to their customers. (Fintechs, where are you?)
  4. Opportunities in the space

a. Rule based decision engine for credit appraisal

b. Just-in-time education

c. Data Management — including security and analytics

d. Advisory services

e. InsureTech and RegTech

f. Agri-related fintech services

and many more…

5. There are many ongoing projects on Digitization, FInancial Literacy, Agribusiness and Nutrition being supported and funded by various government arms. Startups would do well to seek out relevant programs and explore business opportunities that contribute towards inclusion

The second session featured interesting conversations around some of NPCI’s unique payment systems and the tremendous growth achieved over the last few years. Mithun Nair, Enterprise Business and Marketing Alliances — NPCI, took the participants through some products that are most relevant for startups building for inclusion. From AadhaarPay to NACH and UPI (including the latest — UPI 2.0), the startups got an opportunity to clarify on many key questions they had about the products, current as well as potential use-cases. Some key points of discussion-

  1. It is important to identify and build innovative solutions on existing rails and ecosystems (vs. building your own), especially in payments
  2. RuPay is now India’s largest in terms of card volume. Credit cards are already being offered by multiple banks
  3. The different products under AadhaarPay and the effect of the Supreme Court ruling (cash-out still operative and widely used)
  4. UPI is on a high growth path and has overtaken credit cards. Likely to exceed the combined POS transaction volumes of Credit and Debit cards soon
  5. UPI 2.0 features, notably the top 4: Overdraft, Mandate, Invoice in Inbox, Signed Intent and QR. Notably, ICICI Bank has already started the PayLater feature for some of its members via UPI for merchant payments. Other banks expected to follow suit soon
  6. UPI is emerging as a preferred payment system for B2B payments between micro and small businesses such as retailer payments to wholesalers and distributors

Sprints enable us to not only learn from the ecosystem but also help us connect better with startups and understand their challenges. See below on what some entrepreneurs had to say during the Sprint.

We look forward to continue our conversations with the participants at the Sprint. Write to us at bharatinclusion@ciieindia.org or Tweet us if you are interested in engaging with us.

About Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII):

Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII) is an incubator platform at CIIE that provides entrepreneurs the domain knowledge, training, financial support, mentorship, and market access they need to bring inclusive, for profit-business to life. BII’s core design is to promote technology driven entrepreneurship towards the delivery of affordable services to the Bharat Segment- the poorest 200 million households in India who survive on less than $5 per person a day through programs, fellowships, and funding where possible.

The program focuses on solutions leveraging technology open access, inclusive technology platforms such as the India Stack. It integrates financial inclusion research with entrepreneurship and training to transform these solutions into scalable, viable and high impact businesses. We are keen on partnering with entrepreneurs who are driven by building next-generation digital services for India. Reach out to us at bharatinclusion@ciieindia.org or ask your questions in the comments section below.