All the news coming out of India has been negative given the devastation COVID is having there. I am in constant contact with my family and friends, so far they are all keeping well.
The pandemic has affected India much harder in the 2nd wave but the situation seems to be getting under control with the health infrastructure stabilising, reduction in new & active cases and steady increase in vaccination.
India though has been fundamentally changing its financial services regulations for the last few years towards its goal of financial inclusion of its masses. The central bank and the govt aided by technology revolution in India has introduced a number of reforms towards this goal.
- Unique identifier for all citizens, bank accounts for all and more than 80% mobile phone coverage of the population making identification & assessment of customers easier
- Highly efficient & innovative payments eco-system
- Promotion of partnerships between various financial services entities (banking correspondent, co-lending and peer to peer lending) to ensure access to capital for all
- Micro business support from govt for direct to market models
India has a large underserved market for Financial Services :
- India has more than 63 million micro & small businesses with only 10% of them having access to capital or full stack financial services
- India’s Retail Debt to GDP ratio is also very low at just 12.2% as compared to other countries
- Public sector banks & other financial institutions are saddled with corporate debt and not geared for retail
- The old financial players are unsettled due to Covid pandemic and a new player with start product of secured products (Gold Loans) with no risk will be able to capture the market and ensure high entry barriers.
Iceland Venture Studio has invested in eKosh Finance a diversified financial technology plus door-step delivery company, perfectly aligned to take advantage of this new landscape in India and the high potential but underserved billion plus market. This is the perfect timing for companies like eKosh Finance as the regulator is promoting enhanced partnerships between various financial services stakeholders to address the immediate need of access to capital to micro businesses to help the economy effected by various factors including Covid pandemic.
Background on eKosh Finance
Amit is the Founder and CEO of eKosh Finance. I have known Amit for over 3 decades. Amit has been in the financial services industry since he graduated from University. He also completed his Executive MBA from Harvard.
Amit was part of the Consumer Lending business in India for Citi for first 10 years of his career and thereafter was the CEO of a number of Non-Banking Financial Services companies, it is enough to say that Amit understands the challenges & opportunities of Financial Services industry in India.
When he reached out to me last year and asked me if IVS would participate in seed funding eKosh Finance, I was surprised because he has personally invested over $1m in the technology development and partnership establishment for eKosh. He told me that he was looking to partner with IVS because of our philosophy to put founders first and be actively engaged in developing the company. In addition, he wanted to have someone to talk about developing a startup. I pitched the idea to our investment board and got the green light.
eKosh’s Network Bank Model
eKosh is a FinTech & Doorstep Delivery ‘Network Bank’ Platform to transform Micro Businesses in India and solve the fundamental problem of inequality arising out of lack of access to capital & financial services to the deserving micro businesses in India.
eKosh Finance’s ‘Network Bank’ Platform has built a network of best of eco-system financial services institution/ platform partnerships to provide a comprehensive 360 degree banking services offerings (Loans, Payments, Wealth & Advisory Services) to a specific customer segment of micro businesses .
The platform operates with a full tech stack of Mobile App, Website, Mobile based CRM & Lead Management with GPS tracking of sales force, Loan transaction systems, Payment systems of card & mobile wallet and a Peer to Peer Platform as an investment product offering.
Further the platform will enhance its tech stack with Customer Acquisition engines from various partners, Credit Algorithms for customer assessment, Cross Sell and behavioral analysis of each customer to offer multiple personalized products along with multiple systems to give seamless experience to customers while ensuring compliance & back end management.The combined platform will be a ‘Network Bank Plus’ model with some ‘buy’ and some ‘own make’ platforms.
I am excited about this investment because of the potential to decentralize banking services to millions of micro businesses in India with someone who understands and has built and managed loan books of over $1billion through his career.
eKosh’s Peer to Peer Lending Offering
eKosh has a Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending company (IndiaMoneyMart.com – IMM) as one of its businesses. IMM is RBI registered NBFC (P2P).
eKosh’s P2P business is an opportunity to earn high returns for lenders, be a channel partner and make a direct impact on society.
Peer to Peer (P2P) is a direct investment platform with high expected monthly returns (upto 15-18% per annum paid monthly) allowing individuals to directly provide loans to borrowers and create an investmentportfolio starting Rs. 50,000 upto Rs 50 lacs ($680 to $68,000).
P2P platforms around the world have done over $100 billion funding to borrowers (Prosper $18 B, Lending Club $60 B, Kiva $1.4 B & others)
eKosh’s P2P platform believes in direct sourcing, in depth credit assessment and in-person meeting with borrowers to build a portfolio of hand-picked prime borrowers for lenders. Lender funds are split into multiple loans to minimise risk along with precise online tracking & collections support. eKosh P2P encourages women borrower participation in loans to ensure support.
P2P Loans serve dual purpose of broadening the lender portfolio with high returns and making a direct impact on the society at the click of a button through the App & website.