BankBazaar is India’s first multi-brand paperless platform for instant, online approval for different personal finance products. It is simplifying the entire user experience of consuming financial products through the online medium without compromising on the security or speed, says Adhil Shetty, CEO and Co-founder, BankBazaar.com, in conversation with Rashi Aditi Ghosh of Elets News Network (ENN).
- Give us an overview of your products and services.
BankBazaar.com is India’s first multi-brand paperless platform for instant, online approval for different personal finance products. It provides the largest range of personal finance products from 85 financial institutions including the biggest public and private sector banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs), and insurance companies. Keeping in line with its mission of providing access to the right financial products, BankBazaar’s approach has been to simplify the entire user experience of consuming financial products through the online medium without compromising on the security or speed. Hence, the whole idea is to provide partners a platform where their customers enjoy end-to-end services for instant, customised offers within seconds with less hassle, i.e., involving minimum number of clicks, paperwork and highest available security.
Our Paperless platform is one of the biggest innovation that makes the experience of purchasing financial products – be they loans, credit cards, insurance, or savings and investment products – synonymous with online shopping for the first time ever. Partners enjoy features which are remove redundancy, on-ground team and cumbersome paper based verification with features like auto-submission of applications, and One Time Password (OTP) based e-Know Your Customer (KYC) document verification, which reduces the cost of selling financial products and make it much simpler.
- Your firm recently received a $ 30 million investment from Experian. What are your plans keeping this investment in mind?
The Series D investment by Experian is a step-up round, considering a substantial amount of the money from Series C still there. We have always focused on the strategic value which our investors get on board, and being the largest credit reporting agency, Experian will further accelerate our vision to be the dominant digital marketplace globally enabling paperless access to financial products. Currently, we are the largest financial marketplace in the country with the highest number of partners and products. We provide a completely paperless process for accessing several products including unsecured credit products, insurance, savings and fixed deposit accounts, and mutual funds. The funds from the investment would be used to strengthen our existing paperless platform and processes, and to get more partners on board the paperless platform.
- BankBazaar has announced the hiring of 300 people. Are you planning an expansion?
BankBazaar has seen more than 20X growth in the last few years. We were at 1 Million Visits/Month in January 2014 when Sequoia invested in Series B, which went up to 5 Million Visits/Month in June 2015 when Amazon invested Series C. In October 2017, when Experian invested in Series D, we had touched 23M visits/month—a more than 100 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of visits compared to October 2016. BankBazaar is working on taking this number even higher by the end of the financial year as looks to breach the 100M visitors per quarter milestone in Q4 from 54M per quarter in Q2 FY18.
The rise in the number of visitors has seen corresponding increase in revenue numbers as well. The company announced a 102 per cent year-on-year increase (Oct16–Oct17) in-app submissions despite a 17 per cent reduction in cost per transaction. This has contributed to a 14 per cent increase in revenue per application and a whopping 129 per cent growth in revenue compared to last year.
We are expanding rapidly. We expanded our Asia presence beyond Singapore to Malaysia recently. We have plans to enter other markets next year. We have very aggressive plans for this year. We are also considering an IPO in 2020-22. We are looking to strengthen our team to support such growth, nationally and internationally. We hired 400 people by October and are looking to hire 300 more this fiscal year.
- Your brand has planned to breach the 100 million visitors per quarter milestone in Q4 FY18. What innovations have you planned in this regard?
Our unique paperless platform has contributed heavily to our successes. We have seen that almost 60Per cent of the visitors prefer the paperless alternative to apply for a financial product. Moreover, the transparency a completely paperless process brings about, the control on mis-selling, and processing cost and time savings due to mechanised processing make PaperLess finance a very attractive proposition for everyone—the customer, regulators, and financial institutions. So, we are expecting the Government of India to encourage PaperLess access to financial products in a big way. Our focus this year is going to be on extending our PaperLess platform to more products from more partners. We have been steadily expanding its product range, and recently added two-wheeler insurance to its category of paperless products. Our focus now is on augmenting our existing categories with a wider range of products from more partner organisations.
- Banking and financial services in India are frequently digitising. What scope do Paperless financial services have in this era?
In the last few years, there has been a significant improvement in Internet connectivity and smartphone penetration in India.This has also led to a marked increase in consumer awareness about online access to financial products. There has also been a change in the consumer behavior. Mobile-centric consumers want their expectations to be fulfilled instantly on a mobile device. Today, data shows that the Indian consumer actually prefers to submit documents on a secure online platform compared to meeting sales agents or submitting paperwork. On BankBazaar, about 60Per cent loan applied are paperless. Our data also indicates that paperless applications now have 300Per cent higher conversion into disbursed accounts in comparison to normal online-cum-offline process. In more mature markets, especially in the western countries, the volumes for digital issuance increases eight times when paperless replaces the friction-prone physical loan processes.
So it is very probable that access to financial products becomes 100Per cent paperless can lead to a monumental increase in all Indians with a mobile phone (which is almost everyone) getting access to these products.
There is also evidence that paperless applicants have significantly lower NPAs than offline customers because of several reasons. In the first place, it is a direct transaction and there is no intermediary between customer and bank. Information on product features (rates, payouts, fees, risks and others) are transparently listed on the site or app of the fintech firm, bank or insurerand are available to the consumer while taking a decision. This reduces the chances of mis-selling.Moreover, since the electronic documents are collected from source in a paperless process, they cannot be manipulated by borrower. To the industry, paperless products, where the processing is mechanised, helps financial institutions reduce costs by 2-3Per cent in banking products and 20-30Per cent in insurance products.
With 330 million new cellphone users predicted to emerge in India by 2020, taking the total smartphone user count to half a billion, this is not just unique opportunities for banking and fintech, but also suggests that we are on the cusp of rapid transition to paperless finance.