Growth in the last few years fuelled by the Indian startup ecosystem, says Cashfree’s Manmeet Singh

Day 2 of TechSparks 2021 saw Manmeet Singh, Director of Growth, Cashfree Payments, deliver a Masterclass on Growth At Startups In India, where he talked about the improvement in the digital infrastructure in India.
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The Indian startup ecosystem — the third-largest startup ecosystem globally after the US and China — received a huge boost in the last decade. Moreover, the digitisation of the fintech and payments industries have helped entrepreneurs ensure a seamless experience for their consumers.

Delivering a masterclass on “Growth At Startups In India” at TechSparks 2021 — YourStory’s flagship startup-tech event — Manmeet Singh, Director of Growth, Cashfree Payments, said the improvement in the digital infrastructure, as part of the Digital India Movement, has helped the country attract big players from the industry.

Making India digital

Manmeet said he has seen the Indian digital ecosystem blossom right in front of his eyes as people graduated to cloud services from storage devices like floppy disks and pen drives.

“I have seen a lot of change happening in India in the last 20 years or so, but the high-growth digital adoption has come in the last five years. The pandemic has catapulted the Indian and world economy into a digital-first approach,” he added.

According to Manmeet, most brands focused on three key areas:

  • Digital infrastructure: Life has become easier for everyone as companies have started to interact with the digital infrastructure, which has helped customers send and receive money instantly over UPI.
  • Governance and services on-demand: Citing the example of how RTO has gone digital in New Delhi, Manmeet said citizens can perform ancillary services from a mobile application.
  • Digital empowerment of citizens: Striking fruitful partnerships with digital giants has helped companies grow as they get a platform to showcase their services, and the revenue generated is phenomenal. 

India has about 624 million internet users — 2X the population of the US. He said, “We can understand the scale India is working, which has increased by about 20 percent in the last year itself.”

This has attracted big players from the digital industry to India, who give services that take the country online. 

UPI payments: The game-changers

Manmeet said the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) democratised the whole digital payments process in India. He added, “In a way, the western economy went card first and then turned to the other modes. But, we skipped the card movement and we went to UPI first.”

He added the internet-facilitated purchases have become another growing trend in the country, and the D2C movement has taken off at a good pace. “A lot of shopping is happening online, and the growth is phenomenal. Ecommerce is one of the top industries that have taken the moolah in the last couple of years,” he said.

Manmeet highlighted in the last few years, a lot of the growth in the digital payment arena was fuelled by the Indian startup ecosystem.

Since the beginning of 2021, India has churned 33 unicorns. While most of the unicorns belong to ecommerce, SaaS, and fintech verticals, several innovative startups have also made life easier for businesses and consumers, he noted. 

While it took five years on average for companies, started after 2010, to become unicorns, for companies founded before 2010, it took an average of 10 years.

He said, “All of this is boomed by people staying at home and engaging with the media. It is unimaginable that a company can gain unicorn status in two years, but it has happened for five companies. That’s the platonic growth we have seen so far.” 

Enabling growth with payments

In the past few years, digital payments and fintech infrastructure has improved in India, playing a very important role in digitising the domestic economy.

Citing examples of various fintech companies, Manmeet said features, including automated reconciliation and fraud detection, have helped in their growth. He added fintech companies use technology and partner support planning to enable these features to spur their hyper-growth. 

He highlighted the innovations adopted by fintech startups, which includes providing support to all instruments, facilitating international payments, adopting a mobile-first approach, tech platform integrations, and fraud detection and mitigation. 

Talking about Mumbai-headquartered beauty ecommerce startup Nykaa, Manmeet said it has become the go-to brand for a lot of e-shoppers because they provide customers with a seamless experience.

He said Nykaa uses instant refunds to make sure users get their refund within a day. “There are three people in the money movement chain, where the money has to be collected and has to be dispersed. They have to make sure that there is no friction, no delays, and the success rate is very high, which is exactly what we have been able to do with these guys,” he concluded.

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Edited by Suman Singh