In 2009, Mukesh Kalra’s friend lost a significant amount of money that he had invested in unit linked insurance plans (ULIPs). The agent’s commission on the product alone was close to 30 percent. “Now imagine, if you had to just get your principal amount back, you had to have returns of greater than 30 percent from the market every year, which is next to impossible,” Mukesh says.
Also, when his friend wanted to liquidate his investment, the stock market tanked, and so, while the agent made all his commission, his friend was in the red.
This led Mukesh, who was then with InMobi, to explore and get a deeper understanding of financial products. He soon realised there were many inefficiencies in the investment advisory space, and few retail consumers knew how to best manage their financial investments.
Armed with the knowledge he had gathered about the space, Mukesh started Moneysights, along with Santosh Navlani. It is a personal finance site to remove frictions and inefficiencies associated with financial investments.
“It also made us realise how only few products make it to the masses and many good products are restricted to the elite with more money and access to better advice. We envisioned that if we use technology to remove frictions and bring in efficiency, we could create a massive impact in India,” Mukesh says.
The idea, however, did not garner much consumer or investor interest. Moneysights shut down in 2012, and Mukesh went back to working with InMobi.
Enter Times Internet
Mukesh says being with InMobi helped him understand how to leverage technology and data. And that was perhaps why Times Internet bought Moneysights in 2014 for an undisclosed amount, integrated it with ET Portfolio, and rebranded it as ET Money.
Talking about the acquisition by Times Internet, Mukesh says online financial products are a tough space; retail users are not conditioned to transacting online, and more so in financial products. “At Moneysights, we were hustling our way out to get access to a large number of users through alliances. One of our investors put us in touch with the Times Internet team for a partnership, which eventually led to us becoming part of Times Internet,” Mukesh says.
Following the acquisition by Times Internet, Mukesh joined the team of ET Money. With access to a monthly userbase of over 400 million customers now, Mukesh and his team have a larger base as against any other fintech player in the space. “This, when combined with our innovative and super-strong consumer experience, ensures we are able to create a virtuous business with lowest cost of acquisition and highest lifetime value,” he says.
At ET Money, close to 75 percent of the initial team came through references; each one of them was excited with the audacious goal of changing the status quo of the financial services ecosystem. “We ran a tight ship till we found a market fit for ET Money with less than 30 members. Once we started seeing strong pickup, we have ramped it up in the last 12 months,” Mukesh says. ET Money now has a 150-member team across product, business, growth, and customer support verticals.
What does the product do?
An app-based platform, ET Money helps you organise your money - expenses, bills, investments, and insurance – at from one place without any manual input. Also, if you have idle money in your account, you can invest it directly in mutual funds without any commission.
This saving in commission is a big advantage for users, and can add up to lakhs or rupees in savings over the long term, Mukesh says. “Also, if you are short of money, we have a unique loan offering - LoanPass - which helps you take instant, collateral-free loans of as small as Rs 3,000 to as high as Rs 5 lakh. Once you get your LoanPass approved, you can take many loans without any recurring paperwork," he adds.
Mukesh says the member base of ET Money has grown by 10x and an overall growth of 15x. “We are also one of the fastest companies to cross Rs 2,000 crore in mutual fund transactions. Our loan offering, LoanPass, is also growing rapidly every month at 20-30 percent month on month.”
Market and future
Of late, wealth management has found favour with investors and seasoned entrepreneurs. Ashish Kashyap’s INDWealth raised $30 million even before a beta launch, while Satyen Kothari’s Cube Wealth raised $2 million in Series A.
According to a report by Wharton, the Indian fintech sector was pegged at $33 billion in 2016, and is slated to touch $73 billion by 2020. As of September last year, close to 11 deals had been closed in the wealth management space, with nearly $29.5 million invested. In late October, that number went to $32 million.
Mukesh says the core differentiator of ET Money lies in the fact that it offers the consumer multiple product offerings. He explains it helps users take complete control of their finances.
“In FY20, we are aiming to grow 300 percent across all metrics of users, transaction values, and revenues by continuing to rapidly scale our business to Rs 5,000 crore of annual transaction value,” Mukesh says.