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Leveraging alt data we make better risk-adjusted decisions and conversion rates, and reduce frauds: Ashwin Sekar, CPTO, InCred

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With digital deluge, industries have proactively explored the massive potential of data and technology solutions to streamline business processes and enhance customer experience while improving output. InCred, one of the prominent fintech unicorns in the country, is an example of how technology can strengthen services and security. Ashwin Sekar, Chief Product and Technology Officer at InCred joined Express Computer for an exclusive interview and shared his vantage points on emerging technologies and their impact in reshaping the fintech space.

Lately, the entire financial sector has gone through a digital makeover. What are some innovative initiatives by InCred where you leveraged the power of technology for better business output?

InCred has been at the forefront of leveraging technology to enhance efficiency and improve customer experience within the financial sector. One of the key initiatives undertaken by InCred involves the continuous conversion of explicit verifications to background verifications using multiple data sources. This has helped to streamline the verification process but also enhances customer experience by reducing the number of hoops the customer needs to jump through. By utilising alternative data in addition to traditional data sources, such as digital footprints and behavioural patterns, InCred is able to make better risk-adjusted decisions, leading to better conversion rates and reduced fraud and credit costs.

Next, is the adoption of Account Aggregator technology for seamlessly collecting banking data. Traditionally, customers had to upload PDFs of their financial statements, which could be cumbersome and time-consuming. However, with the integration of Account Aggregator, customers can now authorise the sharing of their banking data securely and directly, eliminating the need for manual document submission. This not only improves the speed and accuracy of the lending process but also enhances data privacy and security for customers.

Also, InCred has introduced co-browsing functionality to act as a digital assistant for customers throughout the application process. By leveraging co-browsing technology, customers have access to real-time support and guidance, similar to having a friend or expert advisor by their side. This not only simplifies the application process but also reduces the likelihood of errors or confusion, leading to a smoother and more satisfying customer journey.

InCred’s innovative initiatives in leveraging technology demonstrate its commitment to enhancing efficiency, improving customer experience, and staying ahead in the digital transformation of the financial sector. These efforts not only benefit the company in terms of better business output but also contribute to a more seamless and convenient experience for customers.

Since data is at the core of any technology, how have you modernised your data management infrastructure? How crucial are data-led insights for a finance firm?

InCred has pioneered a cutting-edge approach to data management with its world-class “delta lake” architecture, strategically built atop Databricks. This innovative framework bypasses the conventional data warehouses, effectively eliminating the cumbersome “Extract, Transform, Load” overheads. As a result, the entire organisation gains swift access to real-time production data within 60 minutes. This not only facilitates agile decision-making but also empowers every team member to analyse their data autonomously, fostering a culture of continuous improvement without the constraints of walled gardens that stifle innovation.

Moreover, we are currently in the nascent stages of cataloguing and tracing our data lineage end-to-end. This endeavour lays the foundation for enabling prompt-based querying, enabling seamless data querying across the organisation in simple english. This democratisation of data access promises to revolutionise how insights are extracted and utilised across diverse business functions.

At InCred, risk first as an approach is ingrained in our organisational DNA, and our technology capabilities reflect this. Our tech infrastructure empowers risk teams to autonomously manage policies for our products. Any policy changes once they pass automated sanity gates, can then be instantly reflected in production environments. This seamless integration of risk management into our tech ecosystem ensures robust discerning of risk and pricing correctly for it while maintaining operational agility.

GenAI and LLMs are revolutionising industries across the globe. How InCred is deploying or plans to deploy GenAI models? What outcome do you envision by leveraging such advanced technologies?

InCred has been experimenting internally with GenAI models to help with multiple use cases. A Q&A chatbot enables swift internal document querying, boosting productivity and knowledge sharing, is in early design stages. We are further down the road in enhancing tech support to automate issue triaging and resolution, freeing up engineering bandwidth and enhancing internal customer experience. We are cautiously experimenting with GenAI products to aid as a coding assistant and help with boilerplate codes helping projects get off the ground quicker and save engineers from undifferentiated heavy lifting. Finally, we have made investments in our data engineering pipelines to position ourselves to enable prompt-based querying of databases to further democratise data-driven decision-making across the company. 

Cybersecurity is an inevitable and the most crucial aspect of a finance company. How do you ensure the protection and privacy of customers’ data and the security of transactions?

InCred operates its infrastructure entirely on the AWS Cloud. We follow standard best practices and recognise that cybersecurity is an arms race that needs constant investment.

We use six golden signals to continuously measure and rate our security posture internally, and to drive continuous improvement against it. 

Security incidents:  To track the number and types of security incidents (if any) faced by the organisation and to evaluate the outcomes of these incidents, such as compromise, detection, and prevention, or detection and containment.

Security compliance status:  To assess compliance with regulatory requirements, particularly in technology and information security domains.

Tech risk management: To formally capture and document all known information security risks associated with anything technology, and then decide the mitigating control measure against each identified risk.

Security control status: To monitor the status and effectiveness of all implemented security controls.

Employee security awareness: To constantly compare the organisation’s phish-prone score against the industry average to assess employee awareness and susceptibility to phishing attacks.

Incident response: To evaluate the organisation’s ability to detect, prevent/contain, remediate, recover, and fortify its security posture.

What’s your outlook and strategies for the near future?  

We maintain an optimistic and bullish outlook, persistently prioritising risk innovation and defences. As the innovation cycle accelerates, we adopt a patient approach, investing strategically and working backward from business and customer challenges. This methodology guides our technological investments, ensuring they effectively address real-world needs and propel us toward continued success.

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