Tech-Driven Transformation Enhancing operations and customer experiences in rural areas

HP Singh

Satin Creditcare adopts a customer-centric approach to underwriting, considering the unique requirements of customers in rural areas and maintaining responsible lending practices, shares HP Singh, Chairman cum Managing Director, Satin Creditcare Network Limited, in an exclusive interview with Srajan Agarwal of Elets News Network (ENN).

Could you elaborate on the various financial services offered by your organisation and how it positions itself as a one-stop solution for these services?

We at Satin, offer a variety of financial services under one roof, specialising in lending collateral-free microcredit facilities to economically active women in rural and semi-urban areas through the Joint Liability Group ( JLG) model. In our quest to make a difference in the quality of life of our customers, Satin facilitates product financing for essential items like solar lamps, bicycles, and water connections, making community enrichment central to our business growth.

The company is leveraging its outreach in the microfinance to offer affordable housing and retail MSME loans to clients who have completed more than 2 loan cycles with the company and have bigger credit requirements through its subsidiaries, Satin Finserv Limited and Satin Housing Finance Limited.

Satin Finserv Limited offers individual and small business loans, supporting the growth of MSMEs and individuals while Satin Housing Finance Limited addresses affordable housing needs. By offering a comprehensive range of financial services, our company positions itself as a trusted partner for individuals, businesses, and communities, contributing to their economic growth and development.

Satin Creditcare Network Limited is known for catering to rural India. Can you explain how your company specifically addresses the financial needs and challenges faced by rural communities, and what initiatives are in place to ensure inclusivity and accessibility of your services?

We started Satin in 1990 with the simple idea to cater to a large number of underserved sections of society with the hope that the loans provided would create increased income potential, sustained and predictable cash flow, and ensure the wellbeing of the borrowers. Presently, we are catering to around 3 million women across the country with operation in 24 states and union territories. Our portfolio holds 75 per cent of rural presence, which signifies our strength and reach in the rural India. We work in areas often deemed inaccessible, among sections of the society deemed unreachable. We supply them with affordable credit in a fair and transparent manner, enabling them to meet their immediate or long-term needs for growth and stability. Bridging the gaps left by the formalised systems of finance and employment. We are committed to addressing the financial needs of rural communities by implementing various initiatives to ensure inclusivity and accessibility of its services. The JLG model leverages social bonds within the community to promote responsible borrowing and timely loan repayments. Furthermore, we diversify our product offerings to cater to the specific requirements of rural customers, including financing for agriculture, product financing for essential items, and loans for water and sanitation facilities.

Our company also conducts financial literacy programs and workshops to enhance the financial awareness and knowledge of our clients, empowering them to make informed decisions. Through bank and NBFC collaborations, we expand our reach and provide credit facilities to a larger number of individuals in rural areas. By focusing on rural communities and implementing these inclusive initiatives, we aim to drive financial inclusion and improve the lives of our customers.

Underwriting plays a crucial role in the lending process. How does Satin Creditcare Network Limited approach underwriting, especially considering the unique requirements and circumstances of customers in rural areas, and what measures are in place to ensure responsible lending practices?

Satin adopts a customer-centric approach to underwriting, considering the unique requirements of customers in rural areas and maintaining responsible lending practices. Our field force is trained to conduct thorough assessments of household income and expenses, enabling accurate evaluation of customers’ financial capabilities. We leverage technology through our in-house Loan Origination System, wherein our filed force captures all the business and asset related details of our customer, ensuring efficient and transparent underwriting processes. We adhere to board-approved policies and regulatory guidelines, conducting real-time credit bureau checks, enforcing strict KYC compliance, and utilising geotagging for customer identification. By combining these measures, responsible lending is ensured while effectively catering to the specific needs of customers in rural areas. Our commitment to responsible lending is further demonstrated by our stringent adherence to industry best practices and our dedication to financial inclusion.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations are increasingly important in today’s business landscape. Could you shed light on the ESG and CSR activities undertaken by your organisation and how these initiatives align with the company’s overall vision and values?

At Satin, we deeply value ESG considerations and integrate them into our operations. Our commitment to environmental sustainability is reflected in our WASH loans, enabling access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure, and clean energy loans, which promote the use of modern energy sources. Socially, we empower women from financially disadvantaged backgrounds through tailored financial and non-financial services, while adhering to the highest standards of governance. Our strong compliance, transparent disclosures, and effective grievance redressal mechanisms demonstrate our dedication to responsible business practices and create a positive impact on the communities we serve.

Satin places great importance on Corporate Social Responsibility. We have established a dedicated CSR committee to drive initiatives aligned with our vision and values. Through partnerships with trusted organisations, we undertake projects to promote education, healthcare, and disaster relief efforts. We actively engage in employee volunteering and offer financial literacy programs. Our CSR activities extend our commitment to societal betterment, aiming to uplift lives, foster inclusivity, and contribute to the sustainable development of the communities we operate in.

Technological advancements are transforming the financial services industry. How has Satin Creditcare Network Limited embraced technological innovations to enhance its operations, improve customer experiences, and streamline processes?

Satin has fully embraced technological innovations to enhance its operations, improve customer experiences, and streamline processes. Our company has recognised the power of technology in driving financial inclusion and efficiency. We have implemented in-house digital platforms and centralised processes to enable quick and seamless responses to the liquidity needs of individuals. Over the years, we have launched numerous technological solutions as per the dynamic requirements, to name a few, like a customer service app, UPI 2.0 and a website payment gateway etc. providing convenient means of communication and cashless repayment options for clients.

Also Read | Transformation will remain as our key focus in 2022: HP Singh, Chairman & MD, Satin Creditcare Network

We have also leveraged technology to deliver simplified loan onboarding journeys, offering world-class convenience to customers. We have even utilised technology to enable real-time credit bureau checks, MFI scorecards, video KYC, and geo-tagging for better credit risk profiling and due diligence. By embracing these technological advancements, Satin has transformed its operations, enhanced customer experiences, and improved process efficiency

Looking ahead, what is Satin Creditcare Network Limited’s vision and future outlook in terms of expanding its reach, introducing new products or services, and addressing emerging challenges and opportunities in the financial services sector?

We envision expanding our reach into existing geographies, introducing new products, and addressing emerging challenges in the financial services sector. Our company plans to increase disbursal rates, improve asset quality, and enhance collection efficiency. As a responsible corporate, one of the important goals is to raise awareness about microfinance benefits among target communities and leverage advanced technology for customer tracking and digital payments. We even emphasise cross-selling to existing clients, values-based collaborations, and adherence to the new regulatory framework for MFIs. Satin is committed to rebounding financially and operationally, employing industry growth and regulatory frameworks to maintain its position as a leading player. Our company focuses on technology adoption, talent development, and a prudent approach to achieve its growth objectives.

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