Playing Financial Matchmaker

  The founders at Bank Bazaar have been betting big on the Indian market and pushing hard to establish their market place in a rapidly evolving and volatile economy. From being a company that bridged a customer gap that was quite unheard of, to bringing about a paradigm shift in the way financial products are being consumed, co-founders Adhil Shetty, Arjun Shetty and Rati Rajkumar talk to RITZ about their rationale behind setting up Bank Bazaar.

The premise to their story is something rather simple and personal – acquiring a housing loan in 2007. “It was a tiring and tedious process and we faced some of the common difficulties that a consumer faces while searching for the best deal in the market. As customers ourselves, the gaps between an awesome experience and the existing offline process were very obvious to us, and we felt the need and genuine opportunity for changing it,” says Adhil Shetty, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bank Bazaar.

By rolling out Bank Bazaar, the co-founding trio introduced the country to a ‘neutral online marketplace’ and ‘banking’, two words that were not usually heard together. “The financial product marketplace in India is still predominantly traditional. Bank Bazaar was able to develop the technology and platform for an online marketplace that can help informed and convenient decision-making that has been missing until now.”

With the largest range of financial products (ie) quotes on loans, credit cards or personal finance products, from various institutions, banking with BB is as simplified as online shopping. One can instantly search for a tailor-made option and the platform’s unique algorithms take the financial profile of the customer into account while calculating, throwing up only the most relevant offers and schemes.

In July 2015, this financial marketplace raised $60 million in their next round of funding from Amazon India, Fidelity Growth Partners and Mousse Partners. Existing investors Sequoia Capital and Walden International also participated in the funding round.

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The demographics of are salaried 30+ individuals from the top cities and the firm is slowly penetrating tier 2 and tier 3 cities. BB figures among the top 3,000 websites in the world, with a daily traffic of about 632,799 views; it is ranked at mid 300’s in the country.

Revealing their toughest business pitch yet, Rati, Chief Product Officer, smiles, “The first pitch was the hardest. Everything has a learning curve, and getting an investor is no different. Convincing the first investor to fund us and getting the first bank to tie up with us were crucial. Our enthusiasm coupled with our inexperience made an interesting mix.”

Arjun, Chief Operations Officer, explains thecompany’s business model and revenue generation, “Our revenue comes from applications-based commission from banks. Customers are not charged a commission. We are not lead-based aggregators but application-based end-to-end financial service providers.”

With the advent of the ubiquitous smartphone, Bank Bazaar aims at moving towards completely paperless transactions. “Increasing digitization means entrepreneurs will have access to a larger-than-ever market. However, paperless and present-less financial transactions are still not a norm. Legislative policies that encourage paperless financial transaction on mobile devices, such as the new e-sign platform that validates digital signature without any physical token, would be very welcome,” says Adhil.

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As a startup offering unique financial products, the co-founders tell us that they do not have a reference point to benchmark customer habits. “There are incidents when things don’t go according to plan. And we learn from them.” So what has Bank Bazaar learnt from their experience? What are their top 5 business mantras we ask, and the answer is spontaneous, “Maintain your cash flow, don’t be overwhelmed by change, invest in talent, choose your mentors carefully, go by the rules.”

Having partnered with the largest public and private sector banks and NBFCs in India, Bank Bazaar provides the largest number of products ranging from loans, insurance, and mutual funds across 11 product lines.

Despite coming from various backgrounds, the brains behind the company Adhil, Arjun and Rati believe that their diversity is their biggest strength. While many may be apprehensive about the start-up boom, Adhil says that the trend is shifting in favour of FinTech and marketing. “Those who have the vision can challenge the status quo and improve consumer experience in the coming years.”

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