AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon by BharatPe with Amazon Web Services (AWS)

In an exclusive CIOL interview, BharatPe CTO Pankaj Goel discusses the AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon, highlighting BharatPe's technological advancements, employee upskilling, and efforts to support unbanked and underserved communities.

Manisha Sharma
New Update
AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon

AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon

BharatPe, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), launched the AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon, an event dedicated to merging the realms of Artificial Intelligence and Fintech. This hackathon unfolded through four dynamic stages: learning, ideation, implementation, and demo day, each fostering innovation and creativity.


During the ideation phase, participants engaged in intensive brainstorming sessions, refining their strategies and developing pioneering ideas aimed at revolutionizing the fintech landscape. The journey culminated in an electrifying Demo Day, where 20 teams presented their groundbreaking solutions. These demos showcased the transformative potential of AI in fintech, highlighting the innovative spirit and forward-thinking mindset of the participants.

In an exclusive interview with CIOL, Pankaj Goel, Chief Technology Officer of BharatPe, spoke about their AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon. Pankaj Goel discussed how BharatPe has been leveraging technology, evolving by upskilling employees to make them tech-ready, assisting unbanked and underserved communities, and advancing in overall tech-readiness.

Can you provide insights into the key objectives behind organizing the BharatPe AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS)?


BharatPe’s AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon was designed to provide a platform to innovate and ideate around products that are based on new-age technology like AI and GenAI. The hackathon was well thought-through and included four dynamic phases: Learning, Ideation, Implementation, and Demo Day. The attendees invested time in understanding more about GenAI and its benefits in a full-day training session. They worked in teams, investing time in ideating, devising the product roadmap and building simulations of their idea. On the Demo Day, 20 teams showcased their pathbreaking ideas, highlighting the transformative potential of Generative AI.

The key objective of organizing this hackathon was toget the team membersto be more abreast with Gen AI- its benefits, use cases etc. and leverage it to build products that could be leveraged by our merchant partners. These solutions, in turn, would help growth of the merchant businesses and make the lives of merchants better. 

What were the specific criteria used to evaluate the innovative ideas presented during the hackathon stages (learning, ideation, implementation, and demo day)?


First and foremost, the ideas were evaluated on the application of GenAI. The teams that could showcase a unique/ new use case of using GenAI to solve a problem were rated higher. Also, we evaluated the ideas based on how well they could be plugged into our existing portfolio or their impact on the lives of the merchant partners. Additionally, ideas that were more scalable or sustainable were given a higher rating. 

Needless to say, the more seamless the simulation or demo, the higher were the chances of winning. It would not be fair to not mention that collaboration and overall display of team work did have an impact on the scores. 

How has BharatPe integrated artificial intelligence (AI) with fintech solutions prior to the hackathon, and what were the outcomes of these integrations?

We're deeply invested in understanding merchants and personalizing communication with them through AI. Our proprietary algorithms analyze the payment flows of our merchant partners and evaluate them on loan eligibility. We also use data to understand the market sentiment, the merchant requirements etc. and plan our product roadmap accordingly.

Also, with the help of AI, we have enhanced merchant experience by integrating chatbots for quick resolution. We are also using AI to personalize merchant communication, as well as build a better merchant experience.


Could you elaborate on the role of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in facilitating technological advancements within BharatPe's fintech ecosystem?

BharatPe pioneers cutting-edge technology and strategic engineering practices to drive innovation in payments and fintech products for merchants and consumers. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a pioneer in its domain, offering several key benefits such as enhanced security and compliance, enriched data transaction, personalised customer service, robust DevOps support, and microservices-based architecture.

At BharatPe, our commitment to scalability is manifested through a microservices architecture, containerization with Docker, and orchestration via Managed Kubernetes (AWS EKS). The robust infrastructure is hosted on AWS, providing the necessary scalability for seamless operations. To facilitate secure and efficient communication between microservices, we employ Apache Kafka as our message broker. Security is paramount, and our systems adhere to industry standards through secure coding practices and encryption. AWS offers a comprehensive suite of cloud services ensuring reliability and scalability.

BharatPe's commitment to technological excellence is not just a statement but a practice, ensuring a secure, scalable, and efficient payment processing ecosystem.


Are there any specific training programs or resources offered to employees to enhance their understanding of AI technologies and their applications in fintech?

To enhance skills and knowledge, we conduct regular internal training sessions by senior leaders and experts, as well as periodically invite industry experts to our premises. These initiatives ensure our team stays updated with the latest trends and best practices. By fostering a learning culture, we empower employees to excel in their roles and contribute effectively to our organization's success. Also, we believe that upskilling helps our employees deliver their best.

Additionally, inviting external experts brings fresh perspectives and insights, enriching our understanding and fostering innovation. This dual approach of internal training and external expertise maximizes our team's potential and keeps us at the forefront of our industry. The AI Fintech Fusion Hackathon was also another attempt to hone skills and enhance people’s understanding of AI tech as well as their applications.


Could you provide examples of innovative solutions or products developed by BharatPe aimed at promoting financial inclusion and expanding access to banking services?

Access to financial services has traditionally been a challenge for a nation like India, especially for those in remote areas or with limited resources. Fintech has been at the forefront of scripting the new narrative and has launched a number of new-age disruptive products aimed at empowering merchants and consumers, across the country. The fintech industry has emerged as a dynamic force, breaking down barriers and expanding the boundaries of financial inclusion across India.

Since its inception, BharatPe has undertaken several exciting technological innovations and initiatives to revolutionize the payment ecosystem for millions of offline businesses in India.


Here are some of the key launches:

Interoperable UPI QR: BharatPe was the first to launch interoperable UPI QR with zero transaction fees, in the year 2018. This UPI QR emerged as the flagbearer of digital payments in the country as it brought millions of offline merchants into the fold of the formal economy. Merchants were able to accept payments digitally, which reduced their dependence on cash. With zero fees, this product was able to make inroads into the offline merchant community. Digital payments came in handy during the times of the pandemic, when customers preferred to pay digitally. This ensured that businesses of merchants were not impacted and in turn, continued to grow even during the pandemic.

Business loans: In the latter half of 2019, BharatPe launched business loans for merchants. The company facilitates unsecured business loans of up to Rs. 10 lakhs to its merchant partners. BharatPe has partnered with NBFCs to facilitate loans. To date, we have facilitated loans in excess of Rs. 14600 crores to our merchant partners.

Merchant Dashboard: We've developed a comprehensive merchant dashboard that provides businesses with valuable insights and analytics on their transactions. This tool helps them make informed decisions, optimize their operations, and enhance their financial management.

BharatPe Swipe: In the middle of COVID-19 in 2020, BharatPe ventured into the highly competitive POS category with its zero fees and zero rental POS machine. Within three months of its launch, it emerged as one of the top three players in the POS category in the country. Last year, the company launched Android POS with a host of features to help the growth of the businesses of its merchant partners.

BharatPe Speaker: BharatPe forayed into the soundbox category with BharatPe Speaker in 2022. This category has seen consistent growth over the last couple of years (8 lac new soundboxes installed in FY23).

BharatPe One: Last month, we launched BharatPe One, India’s first all-in-one payment product that integrates POS, QR, and speaker into one device. This innovative product is designed to streamline transactions for merchants, offering versatile payment acceptance options including dynamic and static QR codes, tap-and-pay, and traditional card payment options, across a wide range of debit and credit cards. We have plans to launch the product in 100+ cities in the first phase. We will further scale it to 450+ cities over the course of the next 6 months.

In what ways has BharatPe evolved in terms of its technological readiness since its inception, particularly in the context of adopting emerging technologies like AI?

For BharatPe, AI facilitates the delivery of personalised offers and communication to customers, aligning with the contemporary demand for individualised services in the digital age. This customer-centric approach represents a significant departure from the traditional product-centric approach of the past. Generative AI has transformed operations at BharatPe. It has improved our capabilities by identifying undiscovered trends and positively influencing our business landscape.

BharatPe has leveraged AI to enhance the overall customer experience for its merchant partners. With upgraded Chatbots, we have been able to ensure faster resolution for predictable queries and reduced the waiting time for merchants.

BharatPe empowers millions of offline businesses through technology, offering a comprehensive suite of digital payment solutions and financial services. From simple UPI QR codes to POS devices and speakers, we provide all under one roof, streamlining operations and reducing reliance on cash transactions. This fosters easy digital payment acceptance and access to credit.

The impact is profound. Businesses using BharatPe experience significant growth, expanding their customer base, increasing sales, and optimizing operations. By simplifying financial transactions and providing working capital, we enhance their stability and expansion opportunities. Our solutions enable active participation in the digital economy, adapting to evolving customer preferences and thriving in a competitive market.

This not only drives individual business growth but also contributes to broader economic development, fostering a digitally integrated business landscape, thus shaping a more prosperous future for offline merchants and the country as a whole.

What are BharatPe's plans for further leveraging AI and other advanced technologies to drive innovation and growth in the fintech sector?

The fintech industry has emerged as a powerful force, changing the dynamics of how people are doing financial transactions. From digital payments to robo-advisors and blockchain, these technological marvels are transforming the traditional financial ecosystem, opening doors to unprecedented opportunities. BharatPe believes in leveraging data analytics and AI to assess creditworthiness efficiently, and in turn, be able to cater to a wider customer set, including those new to credit.

We remain committed to harnessing AI to develop products that directly address merchants' needs. Our focus extends to leveraging AI for crafting more resilient and secure payment systems, minimizing the risk of fraudulent activities. Additionally, we're exploring the integration of AI-driven chatbots and similar solutions to enhance customer service and streamline operations. By embracing AI technologies across various facets of our business, we aim to empower merchants, enhance security measures, and optimize processes, thereby fostering trust and driving sustainable growth in the digital commerce landscape.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or partnerships aimed at advancing BharatPe's technological capabilities and maintaining its competitive edge in the market?

Collaboration is key to our success, and we're committed to delivering the best to the consumers. In case we see synergies, we are open to strategic partnerships that aid the growth of our merchants or help us deliver a disruptive product to our customers. Currently, we have over four lending partners, and we're actively seeking more collaborations to expand our reach and offerings in the future.

On the tech front, we're planning to forge additional partnerships to drive innovation and stay ahead in a rapidly evolving landscape. 

By leveraging the strengths of our partners, we aim to enhance our capabilities, deliver exceptional value to our customers, and maintain our position as a leader in the industry. Together, we're shaping the future of lending through innovation and collaboration.