‘The fintech story has just begun’: Highlights from the AWS Fintech Forum Online

The two-day exclusive digital fintech forum captured the journey of fintechs in India so far, and their immense growth potential with an in-depth look across business and technical functions.
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The AWS Fintech Forum Online — a two-day thought leadership online event hosted by YourStory and Amazon Web Services (AWS) — wrapped up on August 27, with multiple stakeholders sharing their insights on the current status of fintechs in India and the huge potential for their growth and its role in propelling India’s financial inclusion goal. Successful founders also spoke about how startups can navigate the current business environment, while CTOs and developers threw light on technical know-hows of building a successful fintech.

Day One, the business edition, kicked off with a welcome note from Shradha Sharma, the founder and CEO of YourStory Media, followed by a ‘Fintech State of the Union’ address by Puneet Chandok, President, India, Amazon Internet Services. He highlighted the rapidly changing customer expectations from fintechs, right from wanting speed and ease of use to personalised experiences to becoming more conscious spenders, who needed state-of-the-art security while using fintechs services. Puneet also dissected the funding patterns of fintechs, the new rules of the game in the current scenario, and how AWS can help founders build, scale and secure innovative fintechs.

This was followed by an address by Amit Goel, Founder & CSO, MEDICI Global, who spoke about the finer points of the Fintech Landscape in India report.

Founder stories

The spotlight then shifted to ‘Fintech Founder Stories’ where Upasana Taku of MobiKwik and Navin Surya of Payments Council of India shared their success stories and observations about the fintech space in India.

Navin, who is also the Chairman of the Fintech Convergence Council, highlighted that India is an under-penetrated sector for fintechs and the potential for growth is huge. “The market opportunity is so large for players in several areas that the best way is to identify segments and target them accordingly,” Navin said, adding that among core challenges for fintechs was finding the right and relevant product for a segment and innovations in mass segments. He also touched upon the potential fintechs going public with the help of their initial public offerings (IPOs).

Meanwhile, MobiKwik Co-founder Upasana Taku shed light on the startup’s journey so far and its plans ahead, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic had halted the company’s plans to go public, forcing it to push its IPO plan to 2022. Upasana also touched upon a slew of topics ranging from taking the right business decisions; the importance of being resolute in your decisions and having the right support ecosystem to relentlessly pursue growth.

She cited the example of the company setting its goal of breaking even on a monthly basis from its status of cash burn of around $2 million a month, and how her three-member all-women team managed revenues, costs and drove the finances on a monthly basis. She signed off on a candid note, sharing her experience of not being deterred by any discrimination and forgingahead.

Uncovering Fintech Trends

The next panel, ‘Fintech Trends: Payments, Neobanking & Beyond’ featured marquee fintech players such as Vinay Bagri of NIYO SOLUTIONS; Ramgopal Subramani of Perfios Software Solutions, Sameer Hoda President – Strategy and Operations at Mswipe Technologies . The session was moderated by Sandeep Laxman, the head of fintech at Amazon Internet Services.

From the right ways to describe a neobank to the initial challenges while onboarding partner banks and the importance of having a sound product and a business model, the panel discussed it all.

The panel also spoke about challenges being faced by fintechs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and how products/services have been tweaked to cater to the circumstances. For instance, Sameer said his company launched a product called the bank box, which offers zero MDR (merchant discount rate) and zero-rental. “Only a one-time fee is involved, which is needed to buy this full-fledged POS from online marketplaces”

Addressing young startup founders looking to explore fintechs or those who are already in this segment, the panellists collectively agreed that a good product, a good revenue model and – most importantly – a sound understanding of regulations, is a must.

The next event, a fireside chat on ‘Building Fintech Unicorns’ saw leaders such as Lizzie Chapman of ZestMoney and Asish Kashyap of INDmoney.com share their recipes for success while the penultimate session on Day One by Digbijoy Shukla, Business Development Lead, Startup Ecosystem ASEAN at AWS highlighted the pros of signing up for the AWS Startups Program. The business edition of the forum was then wrapped up by a closing note by Sandeep Laxman, the head of fintech at Amazon Internet Services.

Technical edition

The technical edition on August 27 focused on developers, data scientists and architects and their role in building successful fintechs. Following a welcome note by Shradha Sharma, Mackenzie Kosut, Global Startup Advocate at AWS delivered a keynote address outlining which fintech startups are using AWS solutions to power their platforms across a variety of areas. "Given that consumers are expecting more from their digital experiences, fintech startups are just not disrupting the space, but also empowering consumers,” he said, adding that they are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to improve their bottom lines.

Putting the tech in fintech

The following panel discussion on ‘Putting the Tech in Fintech’ was moderated by Sandeep Cashyap, Head - Startup Business, Amazon Internet Services; Shrini Viswanath, Co-founder, Upstox, Rohan Bhargava, Co-founder, CashKaro.com, Kunal Shah, Co-founder, Turtlemint, Natasha Jethanandani CTO, Kaleidofin.

The overall focus was on having the right tech infrastructure in place, along with adapting to cloud early on and using data analytics for several business functions.

Kunal explained how one of the best practices for starting up was to have a tech stack that supported agility and nimbleness and brought about more developer and cost efficiency, while Upstox’s Srini shed light on the startup’s use of Data Analytics for customer acquisition, customer behaviour and retention and formal analytics.

KaleidoFin’s Natasha explained how the company collected data from various sources, plugged it into Amazon Quicksight and leveraged AI and ML to come up with the right kind of customised solutions for these customers.

Contactless finance, AI in fintech, Security and more

There were many interesting sessions on Day Two across three different tracks. For example: In the startup stories track, ‘Contactless Finance & Digital User Engagement’ saw Ramprasad Gurumoorthy Solutions Architect, AISPL, list out the various AWS services that could help fintech platforms improve their customer engagement. This was followed by a session by Murari Sridharan, CTO, Bank Bazaar, on the various services used by the platform to ease the documentation process by porting it online, and how they developed a Video KYC solution by using Amazon Kinesis.

The ‘Compliance & Security’ track also featured interesting sessions such as “Demystifying RBI Audit on AWS Cloud” which saw the attendance of Dharshan Shanthamurthy, Founder & CEO, SISA; Kaushik Pandey, Principal Consultant, SISA; Ramki Gaddipati, Co-founder & CTO, Zeta and Swati Sharma, FSI Compliance Specialist, India, AISPL.

The ‘AI & ML’ track focused on how fintechs can leverage these technologies to accelerate the efficiency of their operations. One such panel ‘Credit Risk Analysis and Fraud Detection leveraging AI’ featured Rajdeep Tarat Solutions Architect, AISPL and Ashish Anantharaman, CTO, ZestMoney. Ashish carried out a deep-dive into the operations of Zest Money to show how it is possible for fintech startups to leverage AI to improve the credit profile assessment of individuals for loan disbursement, while minimising the risk from fraud.

The hugely successful two-day event also saw two-hour-long talks by Krishnan Sarangapani, CTO of MatchMove Pay about enabling clients to launch digital payment solutions faster, along with Karthikeyan K, Co-founder and CTO of KreditBee, who shared his startup’s journey with AWS Serverless. The event wrapped up with a closing note by Sandeep Laxman.

You can catch videos of all the panel discussions here - Fintech Forum On-Demand

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