Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Business

Fintech platform Mintoak enabling banks to digitally empower merchant ecosystem

IANS | September 22, 2022 04:00 PM

NEW DELHI: India's fintech market is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030, from $31 billion in 2021, according to Chief Economic Advisor Dr V. Anantha Nageswaran. As the fintech industry aims to reach new horizons, Mintoak, a homegrown embedded fintech platform is enabling banks to digitally empower their merchant ecosystem by powering digital payments and financial services.

Mintoak has built a modularised, cloud-native, API-first payments Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that allows their banking partners to deploy and rapidly scale value-added services (payments, lending, engagement) to their tens of millions of SME customers.

Raman Khanduja, CEO and Co-founder of Mintoak, told IANS that with the help from next-gen AWS Cloud, the company aim is to reconnect banks with their entire base of SME merchants by transforming merchants' mobile phones as the medium to accept all forms of payments and deliver a complete stack of commerce enablement solution in an integrated manner.

Here are excerpts from an interview:

Q: What is Mintoak's approach to disrupting the payments and commerce ecosystem for MSMEs in India?

A: Mintoak is an India-based embedded FinTech company enabling banks to digitally empower their merchant ecosystem by powering digital payments and financial services.

Our approach toward the merchant ecosystem empowerment stems from prevailing issues that business owners are facing today.

In India, every merchant has multiple QR codes on their storefront to accept digital payments. While the rise of digital is meant to simplify operations for businesses, from some first-hand experiences with retail business owners, we have also seen them use offline methods of managing the reconciliation of payments from different payment apps.

Mintoak powers banks to leverage Digital Payments acceptance as the foundational layer for modern-day commerce. The same payment railroads drive relevant Value-Added Services to help the MSMEs with effective customer relationship management capabilities.

We leverage a 3E Approach to achieve the objective of empowering the merchant ecosystem: Enter: Build the engagement by creating a seamless digital payments infrastructure for business owners, Engage: While we've set up the payment operations, supporting business operations is critical -- consumer feedback, promotional communication, campaign management and loyalty programmes and Elevate: Deep engagement and digital footprints, allows banking partners to provide seamless access to credit and financial services.

Q: How is Mintoak offering its services and who are your key clients?

A: Our aim is to reconnect banks with their entire base of SME merchants by transforming merchants' mobile phones as the medium to accept all forms of payments and deliver a complete stack of commerce enablement solutions in an integrated manner.

The core of Mintoak comprises a robust omnichannel payments platform that accepts all forms of traditional payments and new-age payments. The merchant needs just one platform to accept both proximity and remote payments such as Cards, QR, UPI and SMS/ link-based payments. The platform offers a single view across all payment forms thus taking care of reconciliation efforts seamlessly in real-time.

The platform currently serves over a million merchants across leading banks in India and Africa and is already demonstrating consolidation of payments along with enhanced financial access including improvement in activation rates and improvement in total payment throughput and higher merchant engagement score.

While Mintoak offers a comprehensive platform for merchants; it also offers its banking partners the unique flexibility to identify and deploy only the modules that are relevant to their business strategy through its modular architecture and subsequently grow their merchant ecosystem by tapping into Mintoak's product suite.

HDFC Bank, State Bank of India and YES Bank are some of the leading banking partners in India along with Burgan Bank, and Absa Bank, among a few others globally.

Q: What is Mintoak's overall understanding of the MSME market in India and what are your future plans?

A: In the first two months of the lockdown in 2020, around 600, 000 Kirana stores, in India, are estimated to have closed. As a result of the pandemic, businesses and supply networks were severely disrupted, and this intensified with the obstacles faced by the Indian and worldwide economy, the price increase of raw materials, global trade disruptions, etc., had a cascading effect on the recovery of the Indian MSME community.

Digitisation is key for revival. While digital payments are being solved by several FinTechs and banking partners, accelerating access to credit for MSMEs is key.

Nearly 85 per cent of the Indian MSMEs remain underserved in terms of credit. They contribute to over 30 per cent of the nation's GDP but are still to be made a significant part of the formal lending ecosystem.

While credit is imperative for the economy to grow, banks are most favourable to addressing the credit needs of businesses. They're now empowering merchants to accept digital payments seamlessly and gradually enable credit lines at scale. Not only does this allow business expansion but also helps in achieving greater financial inclusion in the MSME sector.

Some small and micro enterprises continue to prefer cash-based transactions over digital payments. We believe that among some of the most important factors to onboard such underpenetrated merchant segments is rapid deployment of low-cost QR codes and engagement through integrated POS solutions.

Rapid deployment of low-cost QR codes and integration with point-of-sale solutions are critical for onboarding such underpenetrated merchant groups, say analysts at Deloitte. With over 40 per cent of the world's digital transactions taking place in India at nearly 2, 200 transactions per second, UPI has most definitely been India's case study for the global payment ecosystem. It is anticipated that the offline segment will account for approximately 75 per cent of all digital merchant payments, principally due to a rise in QR-based POS payments.

Q: Who are the Co-founders? Could you share a few business achievements till date?

A: Rama Tadepalli, CPO and Co-founder, has around 21 years of professional experience across diverse industries such as retail, telecom, banking, cards and online grocery retail. Rama has held leadership positions with revenue responsibilities and was the head of Products and Innovation for Visa India and South Asia. Rama has a Master's degree in International Business from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi and is also a post-graduate in Mathematics from Delhi University.

Sanjay Nazareth, COO and Co-founder, has over 19 years of experience in payments across diverse organisations. Before starting on the entrepreneurial adventure, Sanjay was head of Client Support and Services for Visa India and South Asia. He was instrumental in setting up the Rupay brand. Prior to his NPCI stint, Sanjay was head of direct banking operations at HDFC Bank. He is a commerce graduate from Mumbai University.

Kabeer Jain, CTO and Co-founder, has over 12 years of experience in financial services, internet startups, and gaming. Kabeer has founded 2 gaming ventures and has experience spanning roles across product, digital marketing, and development. Before joining Mintoak, Kabeer was AVP Product at Docprime, a Policybazaar group company. Kabeer has a bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Rohit Ramana, CFO and Co-founder, has over 15 years of years driving business performance and strategic roadmap, executing strategic financial solutions for a broad array of corporates as an investment banker across M&A, capital raises and restructurings and developing technology solutions. He is an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management Calcutta and Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur.

Mintoak has already begun deploying the platform via exclusive partnerships with India's two largest merchant acquirer banks - HDFC Bank and SBI in one of the world's most dynamic and rapidly growing payments markets, India as well as engaged with leading Banks across the Middle East, Africa and South-East Asia.

Q: How did cloud technology enable you to do that you couldn't do before?

A: We started with AWS to compare before and after. We moved to use AWS-managed services for some of the tools we were using on servers like Redis and RabbitMQ and that allowed us to achieve horizontal scalability, high availability, and observability with near zero overhead.

We use AWS capabilities extensively to constantly optimize our stack both from a performance and cost standpoint.

Q. What are the key business benefits you have derived from this association?

A: Being on the cloud has allowed us to build and deploy as well as scale fast. Managed services have allowed us to rapidly evolve our infra and thus enable architecture changes too to meet the growing needs of clients.

But not just speed and scale, I think one additional benefit that we have derived from being on AWS is the assistance we have received in meeting our security and compliance requirements which are quite a few in the industry we operate in.

While we are always working on the security and compliance aspects extensively from the application standpoint, for the infra, it is mostly taken care of by AWS under its shared security model and further through secure configurations.

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