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JP Morgan and IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat inclusion initiative to launch $9.5 M lab for fintech startups

Tarush Bhalla
7th Aug 2018
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Global banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase along with the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s (IIMA) Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) on Tuesday announced their collaboration to set up a Financial Inclusion Lab. The $9.5 million initiative is aimed at identifying and bringing to scale early-stage fintech startups that are focused on helping India’s lower and middle income (LMI) segment who earn $2- $10 a day.

The startups chosen for the initiative will enable access and usage of appropriate financial products and services such as savings, credit, and insurance for LMI households.

The lab is part of IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII), a programme launched in May that aims to incubate and support startups that are focused on developing technologies that can be used for the benefit of underserved communities in the areas of livelihoods, financial inclusion, health and education.

JP Morgan will provide up to $7 million over the next four years towards this initiative.

According to a statement, the Financial Inclusion Lab will also draw insights and learnings from the work performed by the JP Morgan Chase-funded Financial Solutions Lab, a five-year programme launched in the US in 2014, and managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

Till date, the fintechs part of the programme has reached over 2.5 million Americans, and has seen its users grow 20 times since joining the programme.

Speaking on the occasion, Kalpana Morparia, CEO, South and South East Asia, JPMorgan Chase said,

“India’s vision of creating digital technology driven access to financial services will be incomplete unless we bring these offerings to the lower and middle-income segments who are in urgent need of these financial products and services. Our initiative aims to identify and nurture fintech startups to generate innovative ideas, which will help make financial products and services more accessible to this critical mass of Indians. JPMorgan Chase’s Financial Solutions Lab model is being introduced outside of the US for the first time.”

The initiative will also take insights from international financial inclusion consulting firm MicroSave and CIIE on where and how fintechs can help the LMI segment.

Anil Gupta, Associate Director, MicroSave, said,

“Over 80 percent of the addressable LMI market, or 470 million people, are not integrated into the economic mainstream. Early stage fintechs, when provided with the right mentoring, insights and capital support, can have a huge and positive impact on the lives of many people.”

To engage with these startups, the Indian lab is expected to host a series of accelerator programmes to identify solutions for specific financial challenges, while supporting startups with capital, market access, technical assistance, mentoring and sector expertise.

“The Financial Inclusion Lab is a critical component of the Bharat Inclusion Initiative continuum and will build upon CIIE’s decade-long experience of running incubators, accelerators and impact funds to provide inclusion focused tech entrepreneurs the comprehensive support required to turbocharge their journeys. We are excited to partner with JP Morgan to create access and opportunity for more people to join the financial mainstream by unlocking entrepreneurial energy,” said Priyanka Chopra, COO, CIIE.

In May 2018, the BII announced support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and Omidyar Network towards backing startups leveraging the ongoing digital transformation in India to create access to services that were hitherto inaccessible for a large segment of Indians.

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