mFino is working on inclusion by powering digital banking, mobile financial servicesAparajita Choudhury
The fintech digital transformation platform offers ‘building block’ solutions with customisation options. The comprehensive suite offers deep functionality in the areas of payments, commerce, mobile financial services and digital banking.
Any conversation about Silicon Valley, California, brings to mind a vibrant startup ecosystem. No surprise then that a 20-year stint in the Valley set Sridhar Obilisetty on the path to global entrepreneurship.
Sridhar, who started his career at Go Corporation, wanted to set up a secure and scalable platform to provide fintech solutions for payments, commerce, mobile financial services and digital banking. And mFino was born in California in 2009.
Sridhar had earlier in his career built several industry solutions in the areas of distributed computing, personalisation, online banking, electronic commerce, advertisement network technology, interactive TV and mobile operating systems.
But when he walked down the startup road for his next startup idea, he wanted to create a game-changing solution that could provide a basic financial identity and value-added services to any consumer/merchant with a mobile phone, whether banked or unbanked.
“The banking and financial industry is undergoing a massive disruption due to technology and this will have a far-reaching influence on people’s lives and livelihoods. Starting mFino gave me an opportunity to build a fintech digital transformation platform and make an impact.”
Related read: Understanding the Fintech landscape in India?
What does mFino do?
mFino delivers a comprehensive suite of fintech capabilities for existing and emerging financial institutions. The technology solutions span payments, commerce, mobile financial services and digital banking. Well-equipped with a micro services-based Cloud API platform, mFino enables clients to work towards financial inclusion by empowering the mobile financial services of the under-banked and unbanked with money transfers, bill payments, remittances, top-ups, cash deposits and more. The mFino mobile wallet is interoperable with IMPS and NEFT.
For instance, Janalakshmi Financial services is leveraging the platform of mFino to offer prepaid cards, retailer-assisted remittances, payments, ticketing and more. Sterling Bank in Nigeria is using the mFino platform to offer retail and bulk payments, eMoney and mBanking. Dashen Bank, Ethiopia, is using mFino to offer mobile money, mobile banking and branchless banking.
The Advanced Fintech Expression Language (AFEL) developed by mFino acts as a cohesive medium for two or more separate platforms to be integrated, and enables them to interact in a progressive ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders.
The platform is powered with inbuilt capabilities to integrate with any existing architecture, to on-board third parties and deploy the latest offerings within a minimum time frame.
Banking and financial institutions can leverage mFino’s components that include general ledger, interest computation engine, CASA/deposit/loan modules, transaction engine, reconciliation, reporting, invoicing and more.
"All these solutions made a strong impact in the US markets and unlocked more than $30 billion in high water market value. However, a big part of me always wanted to build a transformative product that can make an impact in
India and other Emerging markets as well," says Sridhar.
The evolution of the industry
Sridhar sensed the opportunity of a fintech venture when he joined Primera Capital and started working with mobile operators and financial service institutions. They started mFino as part of the Primera Capital Innovation Lab.
The first customer was a large conglomerate that owned a bank, mobile operator and a retail network. Sridhar and his team delivered version 1.0 of the product in nine months as compared to their estimate of 12 months.
Sridhar emphasises on the two fundamental changes in the banking and financial services industry.
- Governments in most emerging markets are acutely focused on financial inclusion. While efforts have been on for a decade, the confluence of smart phones, cloud computing, broadband and availability of funds presents a massive and immediate opportunity to make banking affordable to the masses.
- Advances in technology are redefining banking services and customer experiences. Existing banks and financial services players are undergoing a huge disruption and are under attack from fintech companies.
His startup has a role to play in both these changes occurring in the industry.
“In our initial days, we were fortunate to be invited to work hand-in-hand with a large conglomerate that owned a bank and mobile operator. We adopted microservices-based architecture and built deep functionality in the areas of mobile financial services, payments, commerce, lending and banking,” Sridhar says.
mFino’s visual programming tools claim to enable rapid development and integration without an army of consultants and programmers.
On the fast track to growth
mFino has a team of 160 employees across its offices in the US, India (Hyderabad and Bengaluru), Africa, Europe and Latin America.
Their revenue model ranges from a licence fee to monthly recurring fee models to transaction-based pricing models. Since mFino is platform-centric, the price range is wide and depends on the sizes of implementation.
The company claims to be growing at 100 percent every year and expects to continue to remain in this growth phase for the next four to five .
Data from YS Research shows that, in the last six months, startups in the financial technology space have managed to surpass even the most glamorous of all sectors, ecommerce, in terms of funding raised.
Led by Paytm’s $1.4 billion in funding from SoftBank in May, fintech raised $1.8 billion, followed by ecommerce with $1.5 billion (though $1.4 billion of that went to market leader Flipkart alone). In fact, Paytm Mall’s $200 million in funding from SAIF Partners and Alibaba was the second biggest round for an ecommerce company. This is in stark contrast to the prior-year period when ecommerce earned $4.8 billion in funding while fintech wrapped up only $2.6 billion.
With urban and rural areas taking to digital in a big way, it seems to be a win-win situation for mFino.