We want to be in 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months: Gaurav Hinduja & Sashank Rishyasringa – Business Standard

Written by Alnoor Peermohamed

Bengaluru-based startup Capital Float, which lends to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), plans to grow its presence from 40 cities to a 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months. While sellers on e-commerce platforms make up a large chunk of whom the company lends to, it says it will focus more on tier 2 and tier 3 businesses, which might be solely offline but have the potential to grow massively. Gaurav Hinduja and Sashank Rishyasringa, founders of Capital Floatalk to Alnoor Peermohamed in the company’s plans. Edited excerpts:

The e-commerce segment is fairly new and there’s bound to be volatility. How do you think that might impact your business?

Hinduja: E-commerce merchants are the core to what we do and it’s an important vertical, but we’ve also diversified outside.

We do loans to a lot traditional SMEs — brick and mortar, manufacturing and service type of organisations because that segment is 30-40 million, whereas e-commerce is 100-200 thousand. I think almost all sellers sell on all marketplaces. And when we underwrite the business, we look at a combination of things. Sales across marketplaces, and how does that look across his offline sales as well, because a lot of sell offline. We look at a holistic view of the business before we actually decide to give the person a loan.

Data on sellers is harder to come by in the offline world. How are you tackling that?

Rishyasringa: You’ll be surprised as to how much data is available on any business in India and that’s very much a big part of the IP we’ve built since the early days. I think what we’ve been able to do is build a lot of pipes for data sources such as Aadhaar, NSDL, and a whole host of other government and legal databases.

The borrower is also able to give us access to a lot of data that we can then use in deciding what terms and what kind of loan to give them. For example, social media is a very interesting input that we consider in our underwriting model.

On the online piece, yes there is some additional data which helps with the speed of lending. So today we give real time approvals to e-commerce sellers in 10 to 15 minutes.

What is your primary source of raising capital?

Hinduja: Like most financial institutions we obviously raise equity right, and we have raised a little over Rs 100 crore from some of the best VCs, but also we have raised debt.

What are your sort of default rates? How are you working to keep them low?

Hinduja: Ironically, a lot of the bank’s defaulters are not coming from the SME sector. They’re actually coming from large borrowers. A lot of what we do is the underwriting, through different data, and we do that to keep our credit costs, which are defaults, et cetera, really low.

Today they are very low, I’d say 80-90 per cent better than any NBFC that lends to SMEs out there. That said, it is still early days. This is a lending business at the end of the day, there are going to be defaults.

What do you think will happen when guys like Alibaba increase their focus in India? Where do you fit in?

Rishyasringa: B2B e-commerce has the potential to be far larger than B2C e-commerce in India. And we think what Alibaba has been able to achieve in China and in India with its SME base for exporters and importers is tremendous.

We are partners with Alibaba. You can infer from that, that we’re already active in the space and its part of our strategy.

How is this partnership going to work?

Hinduja: They’re going to look at us to help get more SMEs to become active Alibaba users. But at the same time a lot of their SME merchant base will require financing, whether it’s for domestic transactions, or cross border transactions. They will look at a financer that really has the speed and the agility to meet the SMEs requirements in that sense.

What are your growth plans?

Hinduja: We want to be in 100 cities in the next 12 to 18 months and obviously a lot of that growth is going to come from tier 2 and tier 3 towns. Because banks really don’t have a presence there.

While people and SMEs in the top 8-10 cities can still access a bank branch, bank branch penetration in those tier 2 tier 3 towns is almost negligible. I think that’s where we’ll see a lot of growth and through the make in India and e-commerce stuff you’ll see a lot of business growth in those cities as well.

What sort of regulatory hurdles do you see yourselves having to cross?

Rishyasringa: Actually in the financial services space I think we’ve got a very proactive regulator and what you’re seeing in these payment banks, small finance banks, e-KYC, I think these are all steps in the right direction and we obviously hope that we continue to see these steps.

News piece sourced from Business Standard. Read the full piece here.

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Can Fintech companies partner with Traditional Banks?

India’s growth as an economic power in Asia has been consistent in the past one decade. In addition to the contribution of larger corporations and the multinational companies that have forayed here, this economic growth is significantly supported by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – a highly resilient and innovative sector that employees more than half of the Indian population.

The SME sector of India holds a huge potential for growth. However, the only challenge that could thwart their evolution is the lack of timely and adequate capital. A majority of the organisations in this sector operate as small entities that may lack the detailed documents or collateral required to procure loans from banks. Some of them are simply reluctant to offer their financial assets as security for the fear of losing them.

Given this lack of funds, small businesses face problems in meeting their operating expenses and are constrained from expanding their operations. Other problems include making payments on debt (owed to any other source of finance) and buying supplies to fulfil their contracts.

Financial Challagenes Faced by SMEs

A solution against such inadequacies has emerged in the form of FinTech companies that focus on financing small and medium enterprises.

The FinTech revolution has been facilitated by digital technology wherein funds are instantly provided to eligible SMEs after the evaluation of certain documents submitted online by them. As a pioneer in Fintech lending, Capital Float has a 10-minute online application processing system, followed by a three-day disbursal TAT.

The ease of borrowing from online lenders has also raised a question – are these companies a threat to the conventional lending setup established by banks?

Contrary to what is usually perceived, FinTech companies have proved to be active partners for banks and are helping them disburse more loans. They have assisted banks in identifying good customers faster and in disbursing quick credit.

Thanks to the robust growth of the economy in the last few years and the positive outlook for the manufacturing and services sectors, there is sufficient room for growth for both traditional and new age lending institutions.

Although their functioning may differ, lending decisions for both have to be guided by a good knowledge of the customer’s ability to repay the loan. Banks typically lend to individuals or businesses that have high regular income and/or the willingness to offer collateral as security. The collateral must be a financial asset that can be liquidated in case the borrower is unable to pay back. Banks refer to income tax returns, credit bureau scores and operational history of the concerned applicant.

In comparison, and driven by their intent to know their customers better, peer-to-peer lending companies employ non-conventional data sources for underwriting loans to individuals. As these companies are in the private sector, they are not fraught by a levy of formal regulations in evaluating clients for funds. They use multiple data points, including information extracted from new age technology such as big data analytics, to assess creditworthiness. In addition, they offer unsecured loans that do not require applicants to pledge any of their assets. These companies use a streamlined underwriting process along with risk management. Their work is characterised by extensive use of sophisticated technology and lower operating costs.

As the business of FinTech lending grows, banks also acknowledge that their customers today are technology savvy, and they are looking at ways where collaborations with online lenders can help them serve their own customers better. Because of their success in the credit market, FinTech companies have proved that this can be done without operational or regulatory risk to the lender.

Since 2015, the digital lending industry has undergone significant changes, and chief among these is the shift towards a cashless system. The promotion of cashless technologies – digital wallets, Internet banking and mobile-based point of sale – has reshaped the financial sector. Later, demonetisation became a major factor that popularized the concept of online lending.

As a positive development, banks are now looking at online lenders as partners instead of as competitors in the market. Some banks have made arrangements where they, in return for a small fee, refer customers to p2p lending platforms that provide unsecured loans that not offered by banks. Through such a program, they facilitate loans for businesses that deserve to get funds but cannot procure them from banks due to long-established, inflexible rules.

Some banks are part of programs that let them use a FinTech organisation’s technology to provide small business loans. These loans are retained on the bank’s own books, but the FinTech company’s platform is used to approve and service them. The banks see this as an opportunity to offer a product they generally do not have on their portfolio but (by seeking the support of a peer-to-peer lender), it helps them retain precious client relationships.

Banks have large balance sheets that they can use to provide loans and cater to promising start-ups and SMEs with a consistent growth rate. However, their conventional underwriting practices have deterred them from promoting some SME segments. Conversely, the government has now highlighted SME as a priority sector in the economic development of India. Therefore, the banks have to meet their new business lending targets without incurring huge costs.

The credit gap in the market can be closed with a fruitful relationship between banks and peer-to-peer lending companies. Capital Float has custom-made loan products and fine-tuned technology to help banks achieve their goals. It can help them reach out to businesses in need, and banks can then use their financial strength to service them.

New age financial technology has transformed the way consumers, and businesses, borrow and spend money. The aim of FinTech lending is to enhance the convenience of financial services and bridge the gap between demand and supply of small business loans. To help their customers, banks can effectively work alongside peer-to-peer lenders instead of competing with them.

Oct 24, 2018

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Considerations While Applying For a Business Loan at a Financial Institution

New entrepreneurs with pioneering business ideas primarily need finance to keep their operations running. Banks have encouraged the growth of small-scale industries in India since independence by granting loans to promising ventures. However, the demand for funds did not quite keep up with the supply, and this resulted in the emergence of non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). The NBFCs supported the trend of industrialisation by granting business finance to those who could not procure it from banks.

The digital technology revolution in the second decade of the 21st century has given rise to a new breed of NBFC companies – the FinTech (financial technology) lenders. Employing a new models of lending, a FinTech company uses data analytics and social media tools to evaluate the creditworthiness of borrowers.

If you have begun a new venture and are seeking a loan for business expansion, you may have wondered who will be a more suitable lender – a bank or a digital NBFC. While there is more of interdependence than competition between these two sectors, you as the borrower have the privilege to choose what suits your interests the best. The loan that are you are eligible for will also be based on your business credit history and the availability of documents in support of the application.

Mentioned below are the points that will matter in the decision-making process:

Flexibility of sending application: At present, banks in India do not work on Sundays, second and fourth Saturdays and on gazetted holidays. Because you need to visit a bank branch in person while applying for business finance, it implies that there will be days when you cannot expect the process to advance towards the disbursal of your loan. Conversely, digital NBFCs by their very nature of operational medium can be accessed for business finance any day, any time. Therefore, Even if you are completely occupied with work on week days, you can apply for the business loan on a Saturday or Sunday and can still avail the loan within a time period as short as 3 days.

Loan processing time: Usually, it takes a few weeks before you actually get the required credit through a bank loan. Most of the banks in the public sector have to follow stringent rules in verifying the credibility of business organisations before they release funds into their accounts.

If you have an urgent need for money and cannot afford to wait for long, an NBFC loan from a FinTech player will be a better option. The entire line of processes from the submission of application to the disbursal of funds is digital and is therefore far quicker.

Collateral requirement: For years, banks have been lending to both individuals and businesses based on collateral that has to be pledged for security. This could be a residential or commercial property, gold holdings or any other asset that can be liquidated in case the borrower is unable to pay off the loan in the stipulated period. Even if a public sector bank looks at the regular income earnings of the borrower, it still requires collateral for additional assurance of getting back the amount lent with interest.

On the other hand, the NBFCs in digital lending industry do not ask for such guarantees through assets. They offer their loans solely on the creditworthiness of the business, which is evaluated by its dealings in the past and expertise in the field. If you are reluctant to offer collateral or simply do not have anything substantial to pledge, a FinTech company will still be willing to grant business loans in India.

Years in business: When was your business established? How old is your venture? For how many years has your business been up and running? Traditional lending institutions like banks ordinarily ask such questions when you apply for a loan through them. Generally, banks in public and private sector lend to organisations that have been operational for 3 to 5 years. Even conventional NBFCs require about the same duration before they can approve an application for a business loan. Such conditions however cannot be fulfilled by many start-ups.

The digital NBFCs have come to the rescue of enterprising individuals by granting loan for business even if their establishment has just completed a minimum operational period A one-year-old organisation with a convincing success story can persuade a FinTech company for business finance.

Nature of operations: Digital technology and social media have given rise to enterprises that were unheard of even in the late 20th century. Online platforms today sell everything from groceries and clothes to jewellery and appliances. Tickets for airlines, rail, buses and even tables in restaurants & hotel rooms are booked with a few taps on your smartphone. There are hundreds of other great business ideas that need to be uncovered. Banks and other traditional lending agencies have not yet started offering credit in full-faith to ventures of an unconventional nature.

The good news is that digital NBFCs are willing to support this generation of businesses. The FinTech industry has been increasingly lending to e-commerce companies, digital marketing organisations and other projects that use technology innovatively. Thus, all of this encourages progress and allows talented entrepreneurs to contribute to the Make in India initiative.

Prepayment penalties: Nobody wants to be debt-ridden. When you take a personal or business loan, you also wish to pay it back as soon as possible. However, the lending policies of traditional sources of finance in India have been such that borrowers are penalised if they repay early. The banks earn through interest paid each month, and to maximise this, they grant loans for longer tenures. If you have windfall gains in business and want to pay off your debt early, you may be charged at least 5% of the loan amount as penalty. That may be quite disappointing for an astute businessperson.

The new-age NBFCs have eliminated this trouble. There are no preclosure penalties when you get business loan from a digitally operating FinTech lender. What is more, their flexible repayment options give you the liberty to pay without straining your business operations or affecting your personal funds.

If the case for borrowing from a FinTech company looks convincing and positive, you can be the next business to get a loan from Capital Float. With a set of thoughtfully segregated loan products, we will be happy to support your business in its journey towards higher levels of growth. To know more about how the online NBFC business loans in India can help you, visit our website www.capitalfloat.com.

Oct 24, 2018

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How Lenders Determine The Loan Limit For An Online Seller

E-commerce in India is growing at a rapid pace. It’s a highly competitive space as it gives opportunities to thousands of small sellers as well as big brands. However, to compete with the larger players, several sellers face the challenge of sufficient capital.

Be it in day-to-day operations, meeting sudden demand rise or to build a brand value, capital is all that you need to keep your venture growing. Loans are one of the most convenient financing options available for most online sellers. This is to expand their business and to manage gaps in cash flow. Be it a big brand or a small seller, financial backing is much needed to grow on e-commerce platforms.

Leading e-commerce companies have tie-ups with many financial institutions such as banks and NBFCs. These partnerships help encourage sellers on e-commerce platforms by providing them finance, mainly in the form of working capital.

Many financial institutions are working in collaboration with e-commerce companies. They have rolled out financing schemes for their online merchants and sellers. Lenders collect the database of sellers from the partnered e-commerce company. They then determine the quantum of loan and the interest rate for the potential borrower. Usually, loan amount varies from Rs 1 lakh to 100 lakhs.

Some lenders offer higher loan amounts depending on the pattern of the business. These e-commerce loans are offered to online sellers at a competitive rate with flexible repayment tenures.

Interest rate offered varies from 11% to 15 %, depending on the various factors and business record of the seller. It involves a quick and easy application process and minimum documentation.

E-commerce loans can be applied online through a simple process of form filling. Approvals are instant in most of the cases. Seller should be registered with the respective e-commerce company to avail the financing scheme. Usually, e-commerce loans are unsecured loans, i.e. loans without any collateral.

Lenders focus on many records related to the seller. Here are some of the Influencing factors based on which lenders determine the quantum of e-commerce loan:

1) Cash Flow Management: 

When you are selling products online, it’s important to ensure healthy cash flows. Online sales are quite difficult to predict, especially during the festive season and on big sale days. Failure in your marketing strategy can leave you with a lot of inventory that you could not sell. Seasonalities are common in the online selling business. You may end up facing cash flow problems, which ultimately lead to a financial crunch. Effective management of cash flows is a vital element. Lenders take your cash flow forecast statements into consideration while determining the loan limit.

2) Past Record:

Lenders take into consideration the entire business record of the seller since inception of the enterprise. Some of the documents taken into consideration are:

  • Business license,
  • Incorporation or registration details
  • Timely payment of sales tax etc.

The lender will then check your business plan and the performance since inception. They do this to understand the pattern and size of your business. So, be mindful of maintaining a good business record right from the onset.

It’s important for online business owners to keep their records updated. With good records, you may get a preferential rate on credit.

3) Operational History: 

Numbers of years in business counts more in getting the e-commerce loan approved. Generally, most of the financial institutions provide e-commerce loan to online sellers with more than a year of operation. The biggest fear for lenders when providing loans to online sellers is the possibility of default. Hence, stability of business is taken into consideration. Your entrepreneurial experience plays a major role in getting a credit facility for your online business.

4) Return on Sales: 

The efficiency of your business is measured basis the return on sales. Lenders consider the ratio of profit and sales to determine the credit limit that they can offer. The loan amount is determined by lenders based on your sales records of the last six months.

5) Type of Business: 

A lender decides the percentage of finance that they can offer to an online seller. It depends on the type of business. If your business is fast moving and the frequency of buying such products is more, you are likely to get higher loan.

6) Customer Satisfaction and Review: 

Earning customer loyalty and trust is key to being successful in online selling. The first impression of a seller needs to be good for customers to consider purchasing from the seller. Positive customer feedback will ultimately lead to more business. This creates more demand in the online marketplace. Customer review and rating defines your service quality. This helps you in building brand loyalty on the e-commerce platform. High customer satisfaction will ultimately boost your sales. This creates competitive advantage for you in the online marketplace. Lenders consider these elements to evaluate the level of your service quality.

CONCLUSION

With many e-commerce companies collaborating with financiers, availing credit for online businesses is no longer a challenging task. As lenders partner with e-commerce companies to offer customized finance solutions to e-sellers, more opportunities are available for new entrepreneurs to explore the online selling business.

Raising working capital for an online business is now convenient. It has become easy with the financial assistance from e-commerce companies.

With the help of details like:

  • Cash flow forecast,
  • Number of years of business experience,
  • Profitability,
  • Sales volume
  • Customer satisfaction report, etc.

Financial institutions are able to underwrite e-commerce loans for online sellers.

Oct 24, 2018