July, 22, 2017
Going beyond the common man
19 Jan
2017
Posted by Madhumita Prabhakar

While Suvidhaa initially began by creating s-commerce boutiques to serve India’s common man, today it has introduced a host of fintech services, in partnership with leading banks and NBFCs, such as prepaid card programs for merchants and customers, nano-credits for merchants and mPOS and the Standard (Traditional) POS terminals for B2B customers.

When Paresh Rajde founded Suvidhaa Infoserve in November 2007, his initial idea was to create neighbourhood services-commerce boutiques which would act as a single point of transaction, whether a customer wants to purchase a railway ticket, an insurance cover, or simply pay a telephone bill. By 2011, as innovation and technology brought radical change in the way traditional financial and finance-based services are offered to consumers, it began introducing services around payments, bill management and recharges, thus making an early foray into the fintech space.


“Suvidhaa’s visioning was such that technology should be put to optimal use to bring about utmost convenience to the common man. The agent-assisted model of Suvidhaa has so far helped over 35 million unbanked and underbanked customers to benefit from technology without them being tech-savvy.”


The Product Journey

It made its first pivot in 2011, when it launched a Cash2Bank model of domestic remittance service, by partnering with Yes Bank and later with Axis Bank. Then, between 2013 and 2015, it went on to introduce prepaid card programs, one for Channel, viz., Channel Card in association with Central Bank of India and MasterCard and the other in 2015, for its customers, in association with Axis Bank & MasterCard. While the Channel Card provided instant connect to over 3,000 service providers, the Axis Bank – Suvidhaa Card, riding on Aadhaar eKYC, provided instant activation, facilitated money transfers and safekeeping of money, besides offering ubiquitous access to money. “Suvidhaa’s visioning was such that technology should be put to optimal use to bring about utmost convenience to the common man. The agent-assisted model of Suvidhaa has so far helped over 35 million unbanked and underbanked customers to benefit from technology without them being tech-savvy,” notes Rajde.

An off-shoot of the prepaid card program is what Suvidhaa has recently launched; a nano credit program, offering term loan and overdraft to the unbanked and the underbanked segment. It has been designed in a way that a customer can avail the loan in just couple of hours/same day on his/her Axis Bank – Suvidhaa Prepaid Card, after due process of documentation or due diligence.

Of course, a second of its recent launches is SuvidhaaPay which marks its foray into merchant acquiring services, in partnership with State Bank of India, HDFC and shortly Axis Bank.  Under this, it offers both mPOS and the Standard (Traditional) POS options to the merchants, while also ensuring ease of on-boarding, competitive MDR pricing and the ability for the merchant to become eligible for credit, based on his or her transaction volumes. “This, we believe, makes for a highly compelling proposition (package) for the merchant.  Our multiple-banks tie up enables Suvidhaa to de-risk the business, as such,” claims Rajde.

Tackling Infrastructural Challenges

Though Suvidhaa has created a pan-India distribution network, its challenge has always been in tapping the rural hinterlands.   For example, cash collection being a value proposition that the Suvidhaa ecosystem offers, when it comes to small villages of say less than 500 populations, it finds it challenging to sustain the channel.  “To address this, we propose a hub-based approach wherein Suvidhaa would create/set up its agent outlet in a town or village that connects four to five small villages, thus enabling the outlet to serve a larger population,” explains Rajde.

Capitalising on Opportunities

On the B2B front, Rajde sees demonetisation as a welcome change for Suvidhaa to bring more customers on the digital platform. “The push for digitised transactions has created the need for 15 million additional point-of-sale acceptance points to be introduced and we see this as a potential opportunity to further penetrate our presence in the market,” shares he.

On the B2C front, Suvidhaa is preparing to launch a Retail Credit Platform for the salaried people and has so far completed strategic tie-ups with leading Banks/NBFCs. “We believe that the fintech space offers ample opportunities and the recent demonetisation announcement has further propelled opportunities in the merchant acquiring space,” opines Rajde, on a concluding note.


Snapshot

Founder: Paresh Rajde

Year: 2007

Services: Prepaid Cards for B2B & B2C customers, nano-credit programs through prepaid cards for merchants, mPos & traditional PoS services for merchants, retail credit platform for salaried B2C customers

Banks Partnered With: Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, State Bank of India, Central Bank of India, to name a few

Impact: Serves 35 million unique customers, and operates through 90,000+ network of small retailer touchpoints across India.

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