Fino Payments Bank–Taking Banking to the Masses

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Fino believes in innovating new ways to improve customer engagement as well as process efficiencies.Technology for the brand has always been dependent on the customers’ convenience as well as geographical factors. In the recent years, we focused inwards – using technology to improve process efficiency, risk analytics and enhancing the productivity of our organisation, says Rajeev Arora, COO, Fino Payments Bank, in conversation with Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN).Excerpts:

Fino Paytech is a payments technology company, soon to evolve into a payments bank, tell us about the journey.

We are soon to be a full-fledged Payments Bank. Our journey started 11 years ago. We were born to solve a problem hogging the banking infrastructure at that time. The banking sector in India realised that there was a huge growth potential in the hinterlands specifically beyond the select urban centres of India.

However, the challenge was the lack of access and high capital cost for setting up captive infrastructure in those centres – the semi urban and rural. The opportunity was attractive since these semi-urban and rural centres were served by informal banking sector leading to high rates and exploitation in the name of service. This is what led to the birth of banking correspondence business, and hence, us.

We partnered with ICICI Bank to spread financial inclusion across urban, semi urban and rural centres initially and in due time, we partnered with largely every major bank and financial institution in the country to improve their reach, access. And further, the cause of financial inclusion of the underbanked and unbanked segments in India. In the process, we spread our wings across 28 States, 500 districts, 60,000 plus villages in India.

In 11 years, we have enrolled over 100 million customers for our partner banks and financial institutions and played a key role in improving the banking penetration in the country. In doing so, we not only created a unique company with on-ground intel and experience in a demanding segment but also cultivated a breed of professionals with rich understanding of the customers and geographies. Today, we employ over 3,000 people spread across five zonal offices across India. In addition, we have a network of over 25000 banking correspondent agents across 28 states.

In alignment with “Digital India” initiative, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance sector is transforming, kindly share the measures taken by your institution to ensure the digital footprint.

We, at Fino, have always believed in innovating new ways to improve customer engagement as well as process efficiencies. Therefore, digital has been a way of life with us. Long ago, in the initial years, opening bank account was a tedious job. With a large number of people having functional literacy in the hinterlands and villages, the challenge was to improve the turnaround time without impairing the customer experience. We switched to digital account opening process with the mass adoption of smartphones and tablets by our engagement managers. It was closely associated with UIDAI during the Aadhaar development and implementation period, owing to our intensive work with biometric-based verification solution.

Technology, for us, has always been dependent on the customers’ convenience as well as geographical factors. In the recent years, we focused inwards – using technology to improve process efficiency, risk analytics and enhancing productivity of our organisation. All these learnings will culminate to our payments bank, where we intend to ensure a 100 per cent paperless fourminute banking suite of solutions, using technology, especially eKYC (Know Your Customer), as an enabler.

As a Phygital strategy, we will have a mix of physical points as well as digital platforms for customers to do banking transactions. While FinoBPay will provide mobile banking platform, we will also enable debit card and online banking while going forward.

Fino PayTech is the only corporate banking correspondent involved in financial inclusion to have received the licence for Payments Bank from the Reserve Bank of India, how challenging is this?

We see it as an opportunity in many ways. One, the payments bank segment is unique and has no parallels in any country. Two, the issue of financial inclusion and banking for the last mile has been persisting for over seven decades and need as many institutions to work together to address it. Three, with the organised banking sector making inroads, the parallel or unorganised economy will become less and less relevant – hence it will be a win-win for not only the customers but for overall economy as well.

What is extremely important is understanding the customer segment. We are the only player among the payments bank license holders, having operations and dedicated sectoral presence for 11 years. As a payments bank we achieve ownership of our customers and hence can now navigate our expertise to greater heights and wider scale of operations. 

Your institution has been in the rural payments business for over a decade, do you have plans to expand your reach in the urban areas as well?

As a payments bank, we are aiming to serve the mass market, i.e. whoever needs banking services in both urban and rural areas.To facilitate this, we are present closer to where customers either reside or work. India is a diverse country where the migration from rural hinterlands to urban economic hubs has led to development of areas within cities that oozes rural connect. So, our urban centres are present where such customers reside or work.

We plan to reach our customers through a 400-branch and 25,000 banking points network in the initial phase covering rural and urban areas across 14 states.

Apprise us about your product BPay (a mobile wallet) and its unique quotient.

Along with the huge physical infrastructure to facilitate banking, we are also adopting a digital strategy to service our customers. Phygital (Physical + Digital) in short, is our overall customer service strategy.

FinoBPay is a platform that facilitates mobile banking for our tech savvy customers. It is one stop solution for the fastest online payment, Mobile recharge and Utility payment. It’s simple, fast and secure. One can load money in his/her wallet using Debit / Credit Cards or Net Banking, save the preferred option for reloading quickly in future, send money with bare minimum clicks.

One can also send the wallet balance to any bank account immediately with account number and IFSC code, recharge pre-paid mobile number of all the major telecom operators. Besides, one can also avail multiple services including recharge DTH, pay bills for mobile, Electricity, gas, landline, broadband etc. as well as insurance premiums for all major operators.