[TechSparks 2020] Experts discuss how a global bank is partnering with startups to enable digital banking

During a panel discussion at TechSparks 2020, experts discussed how financial activity is increasingly moving toward digital platforms, and a global bank like HSBC is actively partnering with startups to bring about this change

[TechSparks 2020] Experts discuss how a global bank is partnering with startups to enable digital banking

Friday November 06, 2020,

6 min Read

The world is going through rapid changes driven by advancements in technology and a constant shift in consumer behaviour. This kind of environment requires both innovation and collaboration among enterprises, businesses, corporates, and startups to remain relevant in a digital world.

This theme was brought to the fore during a roundtable on the topic: Smarter Business Unlocks Tomorrow – with Digital Banking, at TechSparks 2020, the flagship event of YourStory, which brings together participants from across the startup ecosystem.

The roundtable was represented by an interesting mix of a global banking giant, startups, and a hundred year old company, which provides essential services. The common connecting point here was - how does one manage their money in this era of digital technologies?

Digital is here

To set the ball rolling, Siddharth Rungta, Country Head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC India, said,

“The future is already here with digital banking and we are there to contribute for any business in terms of product or service.”
TechSparks HSBC

He likened the digital banking strategy at HSBC to a tool kit which has different components. “What is the problem statement you are solving? Just look into our tool kit and pick a solution,” Siddharth remarked.

Each participant at the roundtable had an interesting challenge to solve with regard to money and the solution was a thorough collaborative exercise with the bank.

Karza Technologies, a banking and business intelligence startup whose solutions enable faster KYC or fraud detection through automation, sees a bigger opportunity for digitisation of processes in the banking industry. Omkar Shirhatti, Co-founder, Karza technologies, said, “We are moving towards a platform of microservices development.”

According to him, various platforms like Aadhaar, UPI, and now Account Aggregator, is allowing for seamless exchange of data, and with the combination of a technology solution, the entire banking process could be digitised with minimal human intervention.

However, Omkar emphasised that all this is possible only through partnerships with banks as institutions like HSBC are opening up for others through APIs to build solutions or solve a business problem.

Challenges of a travel startup

On the other hand, a travel startup like Pickyourtrail had its own unique challenges as it was dealing with multiple geographies, which meant different currencies. Before the coronavirus pandemic began, the company was growing and catering to customers in India, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Singapore, and the US, to name a few.

This meant that Pickyourtrail was handling and transacting with multiple people or businesses. Co-founder Srinath Shankar said, “We were scaling on the product and technology side but on the finance side it was still rudimentary. A large part of money matters was still manual.”

This startup chose to partner with HSBC after long deliberations and now its entire financial aspect is automated. This involved technology collaboration from both entities.

Digital kirana stores

The ubiquitous kirana stores in the country represent a completely new challenge. The over $600 billion grocery and food market industry is overwhelmingly served by these mom and pops stores accounting for around 97 percent of the total trade. But many of the stores have still not digitised their operations for various reasons.

Samarth Agrawal, Founder, Maxwholesale, a tech startup which provides digital platforms for small retailers, said,

“The problem is of fragmentation.” He felt that brands do not find it cost effective to service these kirana stores, which in turn puts a strain on their supply chain.

Maxwholesale went about creating a platform where they could onboard kirana stores quite seamlessly without being overwhelmed by technology. Now, it supports their warehousing and logistics aspects, which allows them to free up their working capital. The next stage of growth for this startup will be to support these stores with digital banking services.

Digitising sanitary services

The most intriguing question on the table was how digital banking could help a company that is into pest control and washroom hygiene. Rentokil Initial Hygiene, a company started in 1903 in London, has been providing these services for businesses and enterprises across the globe.

Nishat Goyal, Chief Operating Officer, Rentokil Initial Hygiene said, “The key service we provide in feminine hygiene are the sanitary napkin vending machines which are installed at the premises of large enterprises.”

A big challenge that they faced with these machines was that they were coin operated and required a lot of manual effort in collecting the money. Besides, hygiene was also a factor to take into account.

Rentokil introduced a UPI feature on these machines where the user only needed to scan the QR code to use the product. “To tackle this challenge, we thought why not get into the digital space and so took this concept to HSBC,” said Nishat. Now the awareness has grown multifold.

Making it simple

Siddharth said there are many examples of product innovation from HSBC, which is enabling digital banking. Even a simple thing like collecting payments online provides valuable insights of the customers as various information is captured digitally.

He provided an example of how APIs are enabling quicker refunds for customers, and this enhances positive experience and results in better reputation for a company which is providing a service or product.

“A lot of things are happening and we are delivering banking in a box,” Siddharth said. HSBC has also created differential electronic banking platforms just for our small businesses and startups, where it makes digital technology implementation quite simple, he added.

Though, he did have one piece of advice to all startups, he said, “Make sure you devote enough time and resources to create a robust financial processes. It is about being future proof.”

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Techsparks 2020   

Edited by Anju Narayanan