Why ‘trust’ is the key foundation of building a robust digital economy in India

India is leapfrogging in many segments, and the digital economy or fintech is one of the key spaces. At TechSparks 2021, Venkatesh Sundar, Founder and CMO of Indusface, and Gaurav Anand, CFA, FRM, CEO and Co-founder of Namaste Credit, discuss best practices to accelerate the digital economy.
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With more than half of the country’s population of 1.3 billion having a smartphone, totalling one billion connected devices, the enormous demand for digital services in India has helped the country to become the fastest-growing digital economy. This has also boosted the fintech space where people are increasingly leveraging technology and are going cashless.

While fintech innovators have no shortage of opportunities to use mobility for disruption, it is important to design the innovation with cybersecurity in mind, as 36 percent of 2,000 surveyed people in India fell prey to financial fraud between April 2020 to June 2021. Since the coronavirus outbreak pushed many Indians to switch to a cashless economy, fraudsters are taking advantage of the growing opportunities.

Given the scenario, Venkatesh Sundar, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Indusface, spoke at at TechSparks 2021, YourStory’s flagship summit, and emphasised that ‘trust’ needs to be the core offering of any stakeholder who is part of the digital economy.

He was speaking in a panel discussion on ‘Building a safe and robust Digital India’ alongside Gaurav Anand, Co-founder of Namaste Credit.

“India is leapfrogging in a lot of areas, particularly in the digital economy, vis-à-vis the rest of the world. There have been many initiatives in the past six to seven years from the government as well as companies on how to make the informal economy more formal. The boost in the digital economy due to COVID-19 has been a good inflection point but it still just scratches the surface and it's very important for all the stakeholders to create trust, which will lead to a sustainable adoption of digitisation,” said Gaurav at the TechSparks 2021, India's most influential startup-tech conference organised by YourStory.

He further elaborated that fintech players largely cater to two sides of the coin – consumers who are the demand side; and lenders, the supply side. “Our job is to build frictionless products and work with partners who are specialists to ensure that that security is deeply ingrained and the right tools are built to mitigate and prevent any security breach,” said Gaurav. He stressed that it is absolutely important to collaborate with the right partners to assure security to consumers as well as lenders.

Best practices

Some of the best practices that Venkatesh, who is also known as Venky, and Gaurav suggested include becoming cyber resilient. “If there is one thing that businesses have to do is to assume that things can go wrong and proactively start addressing it by doing risk assessment and risk protection programmes, constant risk monitoring from day one as an integral part of the business,” said Venky.

Echoing the same, Gaurav asserted that right from day one, security needs to be the priority for any organisation offering digital services and products. He also emphasised that startups should not think of doing everything on their own and hence it is important to have the right partners from the beginning.

“From a startup perspective, this has to be the conversation from the ideation stage like, how you are going to tackle it, what investments need to be put in, and what product features are factored in towards the security. The second important thing is to identify the partners very very quickly. It is important to identify the right partners in the initial journey itself, and delegate the roles very clearly,” said Gaurav.

Namaste Credit has built a platform that is a blend of a B2B loan marketplace (for SMEs) and an AI-based credit underwriting engine (for lenders) which has been disbursing Rs 150-200 crore loans monthly and is catering to more than 25,000 SMEs. Gaurav said that the security has been a central hold since day one at his company as well.

The future

Speaking on the theme of TechSparks 2021 — ‘What’s next: Rethinking the future’, Venky said that, customers are the real investors in this industry, and that the demand for cybersecurity is going to go up. Hence, customers are going to do the business with only those who will give them security as an integral part. He says so because Indusface, a startup with 2,000+ global businesses as part of its clientele, provides a SaaS-based fully managed web application firewall and web app security scanner. The company makes it extremely easy for businesses to detect security risks and shield their web applications and application API from being hacked.

Starting out in 2012, Indusface has been profitable from its first year of operations. But, what makes its growth story stand out is that it bootstrapped its growth first and then went on to strategically raise funds after eight years.

For the future, while Gaurav and Venky both are looking forward to technologies like Blockchain, Gaurav concluded that building robust technology is not an individual responsibility and is a collaborative effort.


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Edited by Kanishk Singh

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