Tech transformation has made things accessible for a larger part of the world: Prateek Toshniwal

Prateek Toshniwal

Social media has starred as a medium to communicate with people over the world and has transformed itself into a business tool. During the pandemic many people built their businesses online through social media platforms. Social media users in India also saw a growth from 35 per cent to 58 per cent in the last three years. To know more about the transformation taking place in the baking space, Srajan Agarwal of Elets News Network (ENN), had a conversation with Prateek Toshniwal, Chartered Accountant, Angel Investor, Networker, Financial Advisor, and Mentor.

What new innovations are you planning to implement in the financial sector backing early-age startups?

If the surmise is what financial changes or innovations should be in the financial segment who are backing early-stage startups, I would say streamlining crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is completely legal in India, and a lot of early-stage startups can benefit from it. Awareness around the legality and types of online crowdfunding which ranges from donation based to equity-based crowdfunding is needed. Similarly, I feel impetus in mobile banking, innovative government schemes like Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE), Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISF), and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and PO-based financing will also financially empower early stage companies.

Could you share your thoughts about technological transformation and citizen participation in the decision-making process for Edtech funding?

Technology has disrupted all sectors massively. Technological transformation has made things accessible and easier for a larger part of the world. However, has it disrupted education the same way as it has mobility, commerce, and communication? is yet to be gauged. While the opinion of citizens should certainly influence decisions pertaining to education and funding in this vertical, I doubt if funding would work like this. Any investor, however, would definitely take into account any survey, research,ed-tech or even user sentiment analysis for an edtech product or service, but it will still be a metric amongst the others. The essence of funding works on product-market fit; however, a lot rides on the shoulders of the founders/leaders too who can show the growth path or as we say the growth factor. Byjus presents to be a good example in this case, the backlash during WhiteHatJr. Or even the case that followed, and the sentiment now, will not deter investors, who see it as a viable or possible solution to a problem that no one else has solved at such a big scale.

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What role is social media playing in popularising the usage of digital payments in India?

After the pandemic, social media which started as a medium to communicate with people worldwide has transformed into a business tool. During the pandemic many people built their businesses online through social media platforms. Social media users in India also saw a growth from 35% to 58% in the last three years.

Over the years, Bharat Interface for Money-Unified Payment Interface(BHIM-UPI) has helped India to have tremendous growth in its digital payment system, during FY2021-22, India reported a total number of 8193 crores of digital payment transactions. After the huge success of UPI in India, social media giants like Whatsapp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger in no time integrated the payment system into their platforms. The huge user base of these social media platforms is now popularising the usage of digital payments in India.

The financial sector today is facing an extreme liquidity crisis. What steps do you think the government/ regulators need to take to improve it?

In a business lifecycle, there will be phases of the financial crunch too. Life is always a phase of ups and downs hence it is said always have control on whatever decisions you take, and take calculated risks. If you ask me VC funds in India are sitting on USD 7 billion, which has to be deployed, so sometimes it is not about liquidity crunch it is also about the need of the hour and the product you are making. Currently, the entrepreneurship wave in India is very high, and therefore when space gets overcrowded there may be seemingly a financial crunch situation. However, the Government should boost young entrepreneurs with faster approvals on the startup schemes and release of funds, which already has been in focus. Also, the Government should keep zonal, district, state, and country-level events to fine-tune the ecosystem and help and assist with grants and alternative modes of finances.

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What changes have you observed in the banking and financial sector over the last two decades?

In the last two decades, our government invited many private investors to invest in India. Even many private banks like HDFC, Axis Bank, ICICI, DCB, and Indusind Bank were also approved during this time. In a few years banking has seen major changes. Commercial banks were major lenders to industry banks and now they are focusing more on housing loans, vehicle loans, credit cards, personal loans, and so on. There are fewer opportunities to give out industrial loans as corporates now have way more options to finance their properties.

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