[Startup Bharat] These 6 fintech platforms are bridging financial gap in non-metro cities

YourStory explores fintech startups bridging the gap for innovative fintech solutions in smaller Indian towns and cities along with metros.
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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fintech outreach in India was limited to metro cities. However, the restrictions due to the pandemic have inadvertently led to the exponential growth of Indian fintech startups.

 

India is among the fastest-growing fintech markets in the world. Of the 2,100+ fintechs that exist in India today, over 67 percent have been set up in the last five years, according to Invest India. The fintech segment in India has seen an exponential rise in funding over the last few years, with reportedly over $8 billion being pumped in 2021 across various stages of investment.

According to Invest India report, the Indian fintech industry was valued at $50-60 billion in FY20 and is estimated to grow to around $150 billion by 2025. The fintech transaction value size is set to grow from $66 billion in 2019 to $138 billion in 2023, at a CAGR of 20 percent. 

Today, digital penetration has taken fintech innovation into Tier-II and Tier-III cities, along with the metros.

Here are six fintech startups that are focusing on providing modern banking services to tap potential customers from India's small towns and cities.

Bold Finance

Launched in 2021 by ex-Mckinsey and ex-Flipkart alumni Nikhil Jain and Durgesh Suthar, Mumbai-based Bold Finance is a financial services platform catering to Bharat users. The startup is on a mission to enable financial freedom for low and mid-income segments in India.

Bold Finance’s first product, Bold Loan, is a gold loan credit offering dispensed on a franchise model, and aims to improve credit availability by dispensing gold loans at competitive rates through trusted neighbourhood jewellers. The startup leverages existing jeweller shops for customer acquisition, gold appraisal, and loan disbursement while partnering with banks to underwrite loans and facilitate storage for gold collateral. 

At its core, Bold Loan promotes organised gold lending by solving for three key stakeholders – customers, jewellers and banks. For the mid-to-low-income consumer segment seeking gold loans, the startup claims to provide loans from trusted jewellers, with a fast turnaround time at highly competitive interest rates.

For jewellers, the startup claims that partnering with Bold Loan helps them augment their incomes by adding gold loans to their business. They also benefit from a structured system for customer service and loan management along with risk reduction enabled by underwriting and gold storage through banks.

 

For banks, it offers opportunities to extend their offering and serve an untapped, unorganised market in Tier-II and III cities.

Currently, the fintech startup has initiated its operations from the suburbs of Mumbai. It plans to scale its presence to Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh this year. 

In January 2022, the financial services platform raised an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from Antler India. The startup will utilise the pre-seed funds for onboarding channel partners, offline branding, and operations.

Money View

Founded in 2014 by Puneet Agarwal and Sanjay Aggarwal, Bengaluru-based Money View is an online credit platform that offers a full suite of personalised credit products such as instant personal loans, cards, BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later), and personal financial management solutions. It has partnered with over 15 financial institutions to offer credit/financial products on its platform. 

With more than one million monthly app downloads from Google Play Store, the startup caters to over 200 million underserved customers.

Money View says its digital technology and user experience allow pan India reach with 75 percent of the users coming from Tier-II and III cities. The fintech startup also claims that its proprietary data models provide a 360-degree risk assessment.

It claims to have grown 4x year-over-year with strong unit economics and a track record of profitability. The company is disbursing loans at an annualised run rate of $700 million and is on a trajectory to reach $1 billion AUM (assets under management) over the next 12 months.

 

This year in March, the fintech platform raised $75 million in a Series D funding round from Tiger Global, Winter Capital, Evolvence India, and Accel, along with other investors including South Park Commons, Trusted Insight, and Dream Incubator. 

According to the official statement, the startup is now valued at $625 million

The startup plans to use the fresh capital to scale the core credit business, grow the team, and expand its product portfolio with services like digital bank accounts, insurance, and wealth management solutions, the statement added.

Snapmint

Started in 2017 by IIT Bombay batchmates Nalin Agrawal, Anil Gelra, Abhineet Sawa and Rahul Agarwal, BNPL platform SnapMint makes it easy for Gen Z consumers to buy any lifestyle category product – be it clothes, accessories or mobile phones – using small instalments and no-cost monthly payment options.

 

The platform claims to have over four million consumers on its platform, many of who are from Tier II/smaller towns, and serves over 27,000 pin-codes across India. Not only does Snapmint let retail consumers buy with instant credit and realise savings, but it also helps merchants tap into a significantly larger customer base and get a greater bang for the buck on marketing spends.

The platform enables shoppers to buy mobiles, electronics, and many other items through a five-minute online process. Most products on Snapmint are available at no-cost EMIs for three-month plans and shoppers can choose their products and EMI plans. 

Snapmint says its entire process is online and takes no more than 10 seconds to process as no physical documents are required to get EMI plans for purchase, it is a paperless, and hassle-free experience. Snapmint partners with India’s brands (merchant partners) with a seamless proposition that empowers merchant partners to increase both sales in terms of numbers, and their total customer base.

In March 2022, the fintech startup raised $9 million in its Series A round led by Prashasta Seth, CEO and CIO of Prudent Investment Managers.

The round also saw the participation of 9 Unicorns, Anicut Capital, Negen Capital, Livspace founder Ramakant Sharma, Usama Fayyad – Chairman of Open Insights and Head of Institute for Experiential AI at Northeastern University, among other angel investors.

With this capital, Snapmint plans to expand its network of merchants, launch a suite of innovative BNPL products, and power the purchases of over 450 million consumers in India. 

ZFunds

Commissioned in 2019 by co-founders Manish Kothari and Vidhi Tuteja, mutual fund distribution platform ZFunds is on a mission to make purchases of financial products and decision making easy for the 500 bottom-most districts of India.

The Gurugram-based startup enables the distribution of financial products through ZFunds experts in Tier-II and III cities. It believes that this human-to-human model, with technology as an enabler, is the way forward for a large segment of “digital-refusers” who need guidance and expertise to handle their finances. While digital channels have emerged as the go-to channel for the industry, transaction-only platforms are challenged to increase their penetration in these markets.

The advisor app launched by ZFunds in 2020 provides access to right savings and investment products to consumers in semi remote and remote India. The firm claims to have 2,500+ micro entrepreneurs advising 12,000+ customers in these markets.

In 2021, ZFunds stands at a monthly SIP book of Rs 4 crore and AUM in excess of Rs 350 crore. In a short time, ZFunds already services 2,000 pin codes across 446 districts in the country with the most active markets such as Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Basti, Siwan, Hamirpur, Gorakhpur, Mirzapur, Darbhanga, Aurangabad, Deoria, and Darjeeling.

QuickTrades

Founded in 2020 by Aayush Agrawal and Nikhil Soni, Madhya Pradesh-based fintech startup QuickTrades gives live alerts for upcoming trading opportunities identified by expert technical analysts. It allows users to buy even a single trading analysis, they can subscribe to its experts for the whole day, week, and months also. Users can analyse experts’ past performance and their predictions on the app. 

Backed by Jabalpur Smart City Incubation Center and mentored by Incubation Masters, QuickTrades has an early user base of 5,000 and plans to conduct one-on-one sessions on the basics of the stock market. It aims to educate people about the basics of the stock market and allow new trades to enter the stock market, and able to invest/trade by themselves. 

The fintech startup also has a step-by-step process of trading in the stock market from account opening to making a profitable portfolio.

There are 100+ trades/investors currently accessing its services, and most of them are claimed to be profitable with the help of its 10+ onboarded expert technical analysts who provide analysis through the QuickTrades application.

In February 2022, the platform raised Rs 15 lakh in seed funding from Jabalpur-based angel investor Ankit Shrivastava.  

mewt

Launched in 2020 by BITS Pilani alumni Rishabh Jain and Kushal Prakash, Bengaluru-based mewt is a business banking aggregator that modernises banking for Bharat SMEs. The platform offers a game-changing digital alternative to traditional banks, whose one-size-fits-all approach falls short for several cash-strapped SMEs.

The startup provides a one-stop-shop banking experience with a compiled view of all bank accounts, the ability to pay in one go from all bank accounts, planning expenses by tracking loans and EMIs, as well as the issuance of unlimited post-dated digital cheques. 

The startup claims to have received good responses from small businesses across the country’s 531 Tier-II and III cities.

In March 2022, the platform onboarded 125,000 MSMEs on its platform within two months (Jan-Feb 2022). It simplifies business banking by unifying state-run banks, private banks and neobanks under one supercharged account. 

The company has also asserted its aim to reach one million small businesses across India by the end of 2022. It has witnessed a transaction volume of $25 million in these two months and is currently adding over 3,000 new MSMEs daily to its platform.  

In 2021, mewt raised over $500,000 in seed capital from BEENEXT and a slew of angel investors. 

As part of its growth plans, it looks to expand its team with new talent who are dedicated to building products for Bharat. In the coming months, the company plans to make its app available in multiple regional languages across the country to make it more accessible to small business owners.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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