Dec. 27, 2020
By Xtracap India
“Aasaan hai. Bas button dabao, aur kaam karao (It’s simple. Just click the button and get work done)”; Umardeen Khan, Alwar says. He is one of many Bridge2Capital customers who are regularly and actively operating their fintech app with ease and confidence. Umardeen logs onto his Bridge2Capital app at least twice daily. While his counterparts Bansidhar, Jaipur or Rajendra, Alwar log onto their Bridge2Capital app daily – not just once but four-five times in a day! Why? “Well,” they reply “this app is very easy to use. We like to look at the ledger, or use the app to add suppliers and make payments. In few clicks all our payment, our work gets done as we sit comfortably in our shop and tend to customers.” Bridge2Capital’s lady customer Inderpal Kaur, Zirakpur replies in same vein: “If not daily but twice or thrice in a week, I do utilize the app for payments or checking accounts.” Even if a customer checks his/her app once a day then in a month it is roughly 30 times! Data from the company shows around 600 respondents who are active users’ login on an average 20 times in a month. Now this is high user engagement. But how is it that small retailers in small towns of India, generally considered to be untrusting of technology or less aware and more open to cash handling are comfortably using Bridge2Capital, a fintech platform, for their business needs?
The Monthly Activities Chart:
The chart on the left shows the average monthly activities of users during the months of Jan-Nov 2020. The engagement didn’t decrease during the COVID situation as well, a point where every company was trying to be afloat, our engagement was rock solid.
India’s Digital Landscape for MSME lending
As per a 2018 report, MSME’s especially those with annual revenue between INR 10 L and INR 1 Cr ($15,000-$150,000) are rapidly formalizing and digitizing. The government-led 2016 demonetization, Unified Payments Interface (UPI) launch, 2017 Goods and Services Tax (GST), and lockdown during COVID-19 are few of the many reasons. Another reason being the disruption in the telecommunication market brought by JIO which has led to drop in data costs, increase in data consumption and smartphone adoption. So, for the almost 60 million businesses in the MSME market, after agricultural sector, the next phase of providing for the nation’s employment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is almost set. By 2023, MSME digital lending has the potential to increase between 10 and 15 fold to reach INR 6-7 Lakh Crore ($80-100 billion) in annual disbursements.
Yet to leapfrog into the digital world is still not easy. Though India has the second highest active Internet users - about 390 million residents who use the web at least once a month, challenges remain. Foremost, the internet access is not equitable across all socio-economic classes. There is lack of awareness and trust regarding digital transactions. The other factor is the issue of complaints resolution or doubts concerning online grievance redressal mechanism. The key to unlock this $ 50 billion plus potential is trust – because customers will accept knowledge or solutions and act upon it willingly only if they trust the provider.
Then in such a complex scenario, how has Bridge2Capital managed to gain its customers’ confidence? More importantly, how is Bridge2Capital ensuring its ‘continual connect’? Unanimously, all the customers based in Jaipur, Alwar and Zirakpur who responded to feedback tele-call voiced their vote in engaging confidently with their app: “Bridge2Capital pe poora bharosa hai. Bridge2Capital mein koi katinahin nahi, koi dikat nahin. (We trust Bridge2Capital fully. There are no difficulties or troubles.)” A 1997 Hollywood action movie, ‘The Fifth Element’, dramatically showcases how the fifth element of continual connect occurs when the four elements of nature are in place; in our personal and workplace reality, it is same. When the four elements of trust are balanced - competency, communicate, consistency and compassion - the fifth element of continuous connect occurs in all relationships, be it business or personal.
Competency - The First Element - Takneeki sahi hai
The first question which arises in any consumer’s mind: Does this product have the ability to solve my problem? has been comforted because of the capability. As Bridge2Capital’s customer asserts, “Takneeki sahi hai (Technology is right).” Lal Singh’s one line surmises Bridge2Capital’s technology platform. As the , Founder and CEO of Xtracap India, the company behind Bride2Capital app, “Our entire technological process is well-thought, because we understand and know our customer base. Our fintech platform and our app has been designed keeping in mind our customer’s requirements.” The company has leveraged India Stack’s open APIs and has adopted flow-based assessment with verifiable financial data to lower risk, improve underwriting and offer highly customized products.
Communicate - The Second Element- Hathon haath message aajata hai, turant aajaata hai
Lal Singh again laid bare the next level of trust gaining - “ hathon haath message aajata hai, turant aajaata hai (Messages arrive instantly).” Customers love it when they are in the know of ‘how and what’ of their accounts. As soon as the customer uploads his/her supplier bill, adds supplier, or makes payment then it is very reassuring to see an instant message or report confirming success. The company not only sends prompt payment transactions or supplier related messages, but also relays information or alert notifications on any kind policy changes taking place in the banking or economic front which impacts their customers. Riaz points out that such app channels can be used to increase awareness levels through financial education and transmit information on different government initiatives which is beneficial to this segment
Bride2Capital’s customers have to press the ‘read and acknowledged’ button for any notifications sent before they can proceed with their app transactions. For example, if the disbursement timing is being changed by NBFC or if any bank holiday is to be announced. Such critical business steps increase transparency in the ecosystem, raises tech and policy knowledge plus further instills trust amongst customers.
Consistency - The Third Element - Nobody cares, nobody cares
The third biggest factor noticed in Bridge2Capital’s success in gaining their customer’s trust is the consistency of their operations. Be it Bansidhar of Jaipur or Umardeen Khan in Alwar or Inderpal Kaur from Zirakpur, Bridge2Capital’s customers unanimously said that their app worked fine and they faced no serious issues. In fact, all the respondents spoken to asked for their credit limit to be increased, from 50,000-1 lakh to a minimum of 2-3 lakhs, which definitely points towards their high trust index and also their burgeoning business. For example: During COVID-19 lockdown Umardeen Khan’s general store did good business as his shop was stocked, thanks to Bridge2Capital financing their supplier’s bills on time. In the same period, Bansidhar’s local garment store filled up with customers, in fact he made his shop even bigger now. “People could not travel to main Jaipur city, they did their shopping around the local area and local stores benefitted – provided they had supplies and credit to manage business. I had Bridge2Capital so I benefitted, but other traders who do not have such access would have faced a very tough time,” says Bansidhar.
Compassion - The Fourth Element - Samjhte hain aur madad karte hain
After initial learning, customers find it more comfortable to use the app than visit banks to get credit. Umardeen Khan says: “Aisa app hona chahiye, sarkari banks bahut sardardi hai. yeh app acha hai ( There should be an app like this. Government banks are a headache. This app is good).” The app’s simple three-click technology with instructions in English, Hindi and other vernacular languages also allows for easy in familiarity.
The other big factor in gaining trust is understanding others’ needs and fulfilling it. Considering that business was tough during COVID-19 lockdown, we allowed our customers to increase their loan tenure and pay back in smaller amounts, instead in bulk. Say if a customer had to repay a used credit limit of Rs 100,000 in 60 days on weekly basis than he/she has to pay approximately Rs 12,500. Now if we extend the period to 180 day he/she could repay in 24 installments instead of eight, reducing the installment amount from Rs 12,500 to around Rs 2,000. Also, whenever the customer cash flow improves, he can top up the account with no extra charges. Bridge2Capital also launched its Bridge2Pay service so that their retailers could receive payments from their customers online. It has also introduced an online insurance scheme for its customers to cover their businesses and health.
Bridge2Capital has its WhatsApp helpline open 24X7 for increased customer centricity. Customers facing any tech or payment issues are able to contact Bridge2Capital’s representative. Usual minor hitches include internet connectivity, wrong entry of account number, unclear photos, etc. These issues are generally sorted within 24 hours. At times, one-off incident takes place which we look into. We manage by exception not by rule.
Like any other machine or human, the digital medium is also prone to errors. Once customer expectations have set in then technology has the challenge to keep up with it. Even a delay of few hours or a day in payment or uploading of bill can cause consternation amongst its online customers. But despite minor delays or mishaps, customers trust the app. “Bridge2Capital pe poora bharosa hai. Bridge2Capital wale samjhte hain aur madad karte hain, (We trust Bridge2Capital fully. People at Bridge2Capital understand us and help us),” says Rajendra whose business has grown thanks to suppliers being paid on time and his shop stocked with ample supplies. Like other customers, he too is interested in availing new schemes Bridge2Capital has to offer.
Continual Connect - The Fifth Element - App ko samjhna problem nahin hai, bas istemaal karna aana chahiye
“App ko samjhna problem nahin hai, bas istemaal karna aana chahiye (It is not a problem to understand the app, also one must know how to utilize it), Radhe Shyam’s statement provides a glimpse into Bridge2Capital’s fifth element – its continuous connect with customers. The key is its design process. It is such that customers remain associated with the app, even after payment is over. Their association is cyclical. Customers log in to app to complete one event, the same prods them to complete another: for example – login to add their suppliers, to upload bills or to check the veracity of suppliers GST returns outside their business area, or to pay or check accounts, ledgers, etc. So, a customer easily logs onto the Bridge2Capital platform once or twice daily. On an average a Bridge2Capital customer engages with the app around 20 times a month. That is high user engagement for a fintech application designed for Bharat. More the user engages with the app, more comfortable he/she is with online platform and thus more willing to explore newer digital avenues. Bridge2Capital’s customers are open, in fact willing, to buy online insurance and savings scheme from Bridge2Capital rather than from outside sources. Inderpal Kaur says, “I am hoping that Bridge2Capital becomes a one shop-floor kind of platform offering all kinds of credit and schemes, so that we do not have go elsewhere.”