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Equitas SFB’s Fintech Accelerator to empower bank to provide VAS to clients

The bank is already working with a few clients in fulfilling their requirements over and above the conventional banking services

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Equitas Small Finance Bank is set to launch ‘Equitech’ – a Fintech Accelerator aimed at the start-up ecosystem. It is a unique program designed to scale -up and help Fintechs curate their products and define a go-to-market strategy. This will help the Fintechs to reach the next level and take its product to the market in a more targeted manner.

But why would a SFB setup a Fintech Accelerator ? Isn’t it digressing from the core business of banking. The banks partnering with startups and organising hackathons; it looks fine until here but coming up with an accelerator, isnt it stretching too far, given the resources it would require and the kind of long term focus it demands ? “One of our core values is ‘customer first’. They expect us to be on par with an e-commerce or an OTT player. What does it mean ? the corporate clients no longer expect their banking partners to provide just the conventional banking services but also tailor made services. It can be a HR related solution, a tax management solution, a merchant management solution, etc,” says Murali Vaidyanathan, Senior President and Country Head – Branch Banking – Liabilities, Products & Wealth, Equitas Small Finance Bank Limited.

Equitech will be focusing on Banking Technology such as Payments, Lending, CASA, Transaction Banking, API banking, Governance & Regulations as well as other technologies such as Agri-tech, Banking tech, Clean Energy, Government Tech and other horizontal segments across key focus areas.

The bank is in the process of creating a merchant app, which will not only take care of merchant payments but also manage the attendance, salary of the people working in the shop. It will also manage the inventory in the shop. Equitas Small Finance Bank has created a closed loop solution for students for a big university in Gujarat, wherein the students can manage all their college related expenses like canteen, monthly fees, etc using that solution. Equitas already manages the banking requirements of the university. “Equitas SFB is also working with a number of corporations for their tax related IT requirements. We are working with Co-operative banks on payment related products,” says Vaidyanathan.

The shortlisted fintech startups will be granted direct access to the bank’s IT infrastructure through Equitas Small Finance Bank’s tech platform and API sandbox for product development. There will be specific cohorts along with mentors and a panel of experts, the start-ups will work closely with these experts to create their products, Equitas will provide the necessary support required from legal and regulatory aspects. Deep-dive sessions with a pool of mentors/core groups including industry experts will be an added advantage to the budding entrepreneurs. The selected Fintech may also get to service Equitas SFB either as their first commercial business partner or as a co-brand partner.

Speaking on the occasion, Vaidyanathan says, “As a leading small finance bank, we are excited and proud to present the striving Fintech entrepreneurs with an opportunity to realize their dreams and present them with various avenues to step-up their fintech idea. The program is unique and carefully planned to support the growing entrepreneurs to achieve their goal and benefit the society. We are certain that the program will be a golden opportunity for the aspirants to learn from some of the best industry mentors and accelerate growth by allowing access to world class infrastructure and support to develop their products and ideas. We are confident that this initiative will be promoting some of the greatest digital innovations for the future.”

“Indian Fintech ecosystem is experiencing exponential growth from almost all of the sub segments ranging from Payments and RegTech to Robo-advisory and Blockchain. This growth is driven by the innovative Fintech start-ups that were able to create unique banking trends like BaaS, Neo Banking, Open Banking, Autonomous Finance etc. These innovations have significantly impacted the way Indian Banking industry functions and has resulted in India seeing a 60% increase in Fintech investments despite the pandemic. The Fintech start-ups space is on a dynamic path of growth and we are glad to be able to assist and nurture the future unicorns in upgrading the banking system for the next level,” added Murali.

The program has been launched on 07 August and the application process for the enrolment has commenced. The program aims to augment the fintech ideas into outcome-driven partnerships with key focus on product and customer acquisition.

The interested start-ups can register their entries at www.equitech.co.in. After the initial screening, discussion rounds to understand the company’s product, key strengths, team composition etc. will be held. Upon successful onboarding of the program, final pitch/demo will be presented to potential investors.

To enrol, a Fintech Start-up must be registered / incorporated within last 6 years as on date of the Accelerator Program opening and should have at least 2 full-time employees, with most important team members having expertise in their field. The start-up must present innovative product/ idea with significant advantages over current industry offerings and should represent original ideas wholly owned with the freedom to use.

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