May, 25, 2017
Breaking the digital divide
19 Jan
2017
Posted by Divya M. Chandramouli

IFMR Holdings sees technology as the means to product innovation that will change the way the underserved customer views and accesses finance in India.

India's best known financial inclusion platform, IFMR Holdings, has managed to address unique gaps in the financial market through each of its verticals while never losing sight of its end goal, to better India's access to financial services. Its retail financial services arm, IFMR Rural Channels, has currently scaled up to over 220 branches in Tier-V and VI villages across three states and has cumulatively enabled over Rs. 21.5 billion of financing, offered insurance to about 250,000 customers, opened over 2,20,000 savings accounts and facilitated remittances of over Rs. 300 million. IFMR Capital currently works with 100+ originators and 100+ investors, having cumulatively facilitated debt of over US$ 6 billion. This vertical is currently in the process of expanding its operations into multiple new sectors and geographies by entering sectors such as education finance, fintech and agriculture finance. It has also established its first international office in Singapore with the aim of increasing its coverage in the Asia-Pacific region. IFMR Rural Finance's Kshetriya Gramin Financial Services (KGFS) has three external clients and is on its way to building the required technology infrastructure for customer-centric operations at NBFCs in this space.


Mobile technology is now enabling us to reach more customers and provide better customer experience through door-step and instant service. We have already gone live with our mobility platform in several of our branches and the customer experience here has been much enhanced.


Technology at the fore

Through the spread and depth of technology, IFMR Holdings has managed to cross the hurdles that were in the way of service delivery. " Mobile technology is now enabling us to reach more customers and provide better customer experience through door-step and instant service. We have already gone live with our mobility platform in several of our branches and the customer experience here has been much enhanced," says Sucharita Mukherjee, CEO, IFMR Holdings. By going digital, there's a wealth of data and insight on customer behaviour which positively impacts product innovation. As Mukherjee adds, for IFMR Holdings, the excitement lies in using this innovation to foster and facilitate partnerships across the spectrum that boost financial inclusion.

As the future unfolds

IFMR Holdings' opportunities lie in further changing the landscape of financial services to the underserved in India. At present, there exists a 90 per cent gap in micro-insurance, over 60 per cent gap in investment products and a large lack of access to convenient credit products and this is despite the strides taken by microfinance institutions across the nation. " We plan to tap into this opportunity to offer simple, relevant and customised products for our target customer base. As a result, we should be able to increase the customer reach of our services by over 10x, to impact 50 million customers in the next five years," says Mukherjee as she signs off.


Snapshot

IFMR Holdings

Concept: IFMR Holdings through its different verticals aims to provide financial inclusion in India

Investment: In August 2015, raised US$ 25 million in equity from Accion, a financial inclusion pioneer, LeapFrog Investments, a specialist investor in emerging-market financial services and investor firm, Lok Capital. The company also raised US$1.8 million in a subsequent round of funding from French development financial institution Proparco SA in March 2016

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