Powered by AWS, how FinTech startup RupeeRedee is working towards becoming a ‘lender for all’
Since setting up its operations in September 2018 in India, RupeeRedee, a fintech startup that provides instant small-ticket and short-term personal loans has enabled over 1.5 lakh credit transactions. “The entire user journey, right from the time the customer enters the website or the app, to the time the customer gets the loan amount, takes place in a completely digital ecosystem. We are able to disburse the money within 10 minutes,” says Jitin Bhasin, Managing Director – RupeeRedee & FincFriends.
A mature lending solution for India’s underserved consumers
Powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), RupeeRedee makes digital lending safe, quick, paperless and hassle-free for Indian’s largely underserved market. “While there are over 800 million debit card holders, only a very small percentage are credit card holders. So, while a majority have a fairly steady income, they do not have access to instant credit from a formal source. They are compelled to rely on peer groups or informal credit sources. Moreover, leading NBFC players primarily cater to large-size credit. By enabling access to small-ticket credit, we are not only filling a gap in the market, but also offering a ‘product ladder’ by creating a credit history to enhance an individual’s creditworthiness.” he explains. RupeeRedee’s customers mostly consist of salaried, self-employed, first-time borrowers and individuals, whose loan requests have not been approved by other lending companies.
The other advantage of RupeeRedee is that it is available 24x7. “People sometimes need money due to an emergency in the middle of the night. Or there may be times when they need instant cash for business transactions beyond the office hours. So we are able to fulfil this need,” says Jitin.
He explains that the company is able to process the applications during non-business hours because there is no manual underwriting. “Only in cases where the AI and ML-based risk engine flags an application for review, which is the case in less than 5 percent of the applications, the processing gets delayed. The rest are processed within the 10-minute turnaround time,” he explains.
A bull’s eye on business metrics and growth
Filling a key gap in the market helped the startup gain steady traction in little over a year. RupeeRedee also expanded its reach from 10 cities in 2018 to 35+ cities today. The startup’s unit economics have also been positive from day 1. But COVID-19 and the related economic uncertainties have posed fresh challenges. “We optimised our operations in March and April because of the uncertainties related to the pandemic In May, with the partial lifting of curbs and economic activity slowly bouncing back, we resumed.”
“Though we are yet to reach pre-COVID level of applications for our core B2C product, the business is slowly bouncing back. We anticipate that demand will grow in the months to come,” shares Jitin.
In addition, the startup made its foray into the B2B software space with GoDigital in May. The solution helps NBFCs digitise their paper processes, while drastically reducing the turn-around time for customer applications and evaluating potential risks.
The tech challenge for the fintech startup
With the expected rise in demand and new opportunities to expand its portfolio, RupeeRedee saw a need to strengthen its technology infrastructure, and make it more robust, scalable and secure.
But the complexity of the infrastructure posed a challenge. “We have front end assets consisting of the website and the mobile application. We have a lot of backend systems – Loan Origination System, CRM, Loan Management System and Collection system. We use Linux, Windows and different relational database systems like MySQL, MS-SQL, among others.
The complex architecture and mixed use of open-source and enterprise technologies required a large-scale and robust cloud service provider. We wanted redundancy, disaster recovery, auto scaleup to strengthen the infrastructure which was a challenge with the previous cloud service provider,” shares Udit Negi, Head of IT, Product Management & Analytics at RupeeRedee. After a detailed analysis of features, pricing, availability of support, availability of resources in the open market and the ease of using those services, RupeeRedee decided to go with AWS. “The other important criteria which we looked at was the availability of a disaster recovery (DR) site in other geolocations, which was available with AWS.”
The startup on-boarded with AWS Activate - a unique programme specifically designed for startups and early-stage entrepreneurs.
“With access to AWS architects we were able to redesign our infrastructure. This not only made the architecture more robust but also eliminated the friction that usually comes with moving to a new service provider. The programme’s free AWS credit was an added bonus,” explains Udit.
RupeeRedee’s infrastructure had 40+ cloud servers with a mix of production, pre-production, and development servers. The overall deployment exercise was supported by AWS Advanced Consulting Partner –. “It took us approximately four weeks from start to end for complete migration. Owing to rigorous planning and mock drills post deployment, the final migration exercise was seamless and required minimal downtime,” he adds.
Bringing in reliably, scalability and security with AWS
Today, RupeeRedee leverages a number of AWS services - from common services like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and AWS IAM to advanced services like Amazon Aurora (RDS), Amazon GuardDuty, AWS WAF and Amazon Cloudwatch.
The startup leverages Amazon Aurora, a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud, which is up to five times faster than standard MySQL databases and three times faster than standard PostgreSQL databases. It provides the security, availability, and reliability of commercial databases at a fraction of the cost. Amazon Aurora is fully managed by Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), which automates time-consuming administrative tasks like hardware provisioning, database setup, patching, and backups. Udit adds, “The primary advantage against a normal database would be having automatic fault tolerance. This is very critical for a platform like ours which requires high availability”
Another key AWS solution that RupeeRedee leverages is AWS WAF - a web application firewall that helps protect web applications or APIs against common web exploits that may affect availability, compromise security, or consume excessive resources. “Security is a critical aspect for fintech solution providers like us. AWS WAF helps control over how traffic reaches the applications by enabling us to create security rules that block common attack patterns, such as SQL injection or cross-site scripting, among others.”
With plans to scale up its product portfolio, in addition to scaling its consumer base, the startup is leveraging Amazon CloudWatch. “It not only helps monitor the applications but also alerts us in case of any changes in resource utilisations or unhealthy servers so that timely action can be taken.” The startup also leverages AWS IAM to ensure that its in-house development team, vendor development teams and the cloud support teams have the right access.
The business impact
The impact of the transition to AWS cloud has been manifold - from a faster response time on the website and the app, better user experiences to fewer downtimes. In addition, former manual interventions like regular backups, fault tolerance and mirroring, are now automated.
“There has been significant improvement in overall platform performance. With the new architecture configuration, we are not only confident of handling up to 5x more customers, which is a drastic improvement from the traffic we were able to handle earlier, but have also been able to reduce our costs. We expect savings of up to 30 percent with few more optimisations in the new architecture” says Udit.
Drawing an upward curve
With a robust architecture in place and signs of economic revival, RupeeRedee believes that the next few months will accelerate its growth curve with new product launches.
“In addition to Go Digital, we have just launched a credit product for the pre-approved category, wherein the credit can be paid back in instalments. We plan to gradually increase the loan ticket size to 60K. This will enable consistent customers to get access to higher credit lines. We also plan to open this to new users depending on the risk check parameters,” shares Jitin.
Another product in the pipeline is a credit card like feature that will enable users to avail credit consistently when repaid on time. “With the new products, we are trying to address evolving customer needs while offering a seamless experience. This is in line with our vision to become a lender for all,” sums up Jitin.