CxO of the Week: Madhusudan Ekambaram, CEO, KreditBee

By : |June 23, 2020 0

CxO of the Week: KreditBee has pioneered as a preferred digital loan providing platform under the leadership of Madhusudan Ekambaram, CEO, KreditBee. His expertise includes Product, Business Strategy and Investments at KreditBee. With an overall experience of over 16 years, he has a demonstrated history of working in the financial services, Fintech and NBFC segments. His skills include e-commerce, entrepreneurship, product management, and start-ups.

So, CIOL took the opportunity to interact with the Industry leader and understand his thoughts on what in the future of NBFCs and how tech-driven the sector is.

You have 16+ tech experience. So what is your opinion on driving the digital vehicle to success?

For me, user experience, robustness (or reliability) and scalability of a solution is the key to success. Any experience that has a manual intervention has inherent challenges in maintaining the quality of solutions depending on these 3 parameters. An average millennial today is turning to his/her smartphone for the most trivial use cases.

And as people with experience in the Tech Product domain, it is quintessential for us to harness this digital wave. Once there is a Digital Solution for any proposition that is heavily offline currently, we will see a tectonic shift in user behaviour. And there’s no going back from there.

What are the challenges one faces in driving digital transformation?

Identifying the perfect user experience and flow is extremely key for any digital solution. Most of the product managers go overboard in trying to replicate the exact offline solution digitally. One must understand that these are 2 separate worlds, and the consumer behaviour in both these worlds differs immensely. While in offline solutions, there is a manual intervention which leads to constant feedback to both the entity and the end consumer.

In other words, there is always a more personalised hand-holding throughout the consumer journey. On the other hand, in tech-driven solutions, it is hard to replicate the same level of customisation considering the scalability metrics at play. Thus, to identify the perfect minimalist flow that adds genuine value over the offline scheme of things requires a lot of A/B tests, introspection and market research.

What is the importance of FinTech in the post-Coronavirus world?

Any proposition which is pure-play digital will have a clear headway over non-digital solutions post-Coronavirus world. The masses have become more sceptical of doing things offline which they would do otherwise 6 months back. Be it digital lending or contactless payments, I see a lot of regulatory purview easing out for these digital propositions, opening up new avenues for Fintech firms. I won’t be surprised to see higher investments from banks & traditional NBFCs in their digital initiatives to keep up with this trend.

What according to you is increasing the gap in the market and the core financial service providers like banks?

I would say it’s the ability to transform itself in an agile manner as per the consumer requirements. An average Indian consumer still thinks that any banking solution still involves a lot of paperwork and time. While banks have invested largely in their digital transformation over the last few years, their bureaucratic perception & branding is deep-rooted in the minds of the consumer.

Also, there’s a large legacy tech infrastructure that banks need to attend for the digital transformation. On the other hand, Fintechs have an advantage of having a lean and lightweight code base, employee pool and consumer set, which makes it easier for them to experiment & innovate in their tech product solutions, and come up with something much closer to the expectations of the digitally-savvy user.

What is your opinion of the Government’s economic package?

I think it’s a fairly well-thought-out plan. The government has tried to cover all bases and sections of society. In a large & varied demographic like India, it is very difficult to plan & implement stimulus packages to the hilt under such extraordinary circumstances. Initiatives like Direct Bank Transfer to Jan Dhan accounts would ensure a lot of transparency & direct control of these schemes.

Also, schemes targeted to MSMEs like broadening their definition, extending investment limits, clubbing manufacturing & service enterprises under small businesses, and providing collateral-free loans & equity support to stressed enterprises would go a long way in not only the folks who are running & employed at these entities but also the ones who are lending to these & the ones working here.

Having said that, we would have appreciated some direct benefit schemes for NBFCs rather than routing it via banking institutions.

What is your vision for KreditBee?

We want to become a single-stop digital solution for the financial needs of a consumer, primarily focused on lending. The idea is to help digitally savvy end-consumers with tech-enabled solutions. This would be able to replicate the brick-and-mortar experience at the ease of a smartphone handset.

What is your top priority while making decisions to improve tech infra in your organization?

Any solution for the technical infrastructure that we deploy in our organisation has to be scalable, secure and efficient. While we always look for cost-effective solutions. These 3 tenets are extremely key for us to lay a strong foundation for all our FinTech initiatives.

A lot of companies are struggling. Are you too? How do they re-engineer themselves?

As an entity, Kreditbee has already achieved breakeven. We are always conservative for our cost & strategic initiatives. We are largely doing well during COVID times. But I don’t think we can have a ‘one size fits all’ strategy. This is for entities that are finding it difficult to sustain.

Every entity needs to formulate its strategy depending on their current situation. Having said that, going consumer-first, and focusing on one’s USP that differentiates an entity from the rest is something that would help them in user retention & re-engagement under any circumstances.

What is your advice to someone new to the FinTech sector?

I would strongly suggest anyone pursuing any FinTech initiative to understand the financial sector in India thoroughly. Technology is an enabler. But you have to use it appropriately. This will add a layer of genuine value on top of the core financial service you’re willing to provide to your end consumer.

Also, it’s a highly regulated market. And you would require a lot of thought and understanding of the consumer to commence any form of innovation. Net-net, it’s a very challenging sector and I won’t recommend anyone to jump the gun. Don’t do it unless you are very sure of what you have set out for with a validated proof of concept.

What’s your mantra to become successful in life and what would you like to give back to society?

I feel that rigour & discipline is very key for anyone to progress in whatever they do in life. Regular and sustained efforts, even in a small & steady way always add up to significant compounded progress. Also, fast decision making and speed of execution can be true differentiators in today’s competitive ecosystem. These are some things that have worked for me, both personally and professionally.

The Indian demographic today is largely young and aspirational, and often requires quick and convenient access to capital. The idea is to help the KreditBee platform expand its avenues of the proposition to be able to provide this 300 Million user base quick & easy access to capital and become a key cog-in-the-wheel to enable the youth of the nation in their ambitious journeys to make positive things happen for themselves and the society at large.

For previous CxO of the Week, read here.

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