There's a new kid in the town. The buzz word that's capturing the attention of VCs and PEs. It is called Embedded Finance, deemed to be the Future of the Economy! In this quick writeup below let us see why this is real and the hype is justified especially in India, and also see what are the factors that are accelerating its growth. Also, let's take a sneak peek into some of the aids available to accelerate the growth in this sector.
So, what is this Embedded Finance?!
Well, it is a term for non-financial companies like e-commerce, social media, cab aggregators, or others who make significant changes to their value proposition by embedding financial products into their existing core offerings. Here, financial products could be as simple as UPI Payment handle or even a loan offers or even Personal financial management solutions. With an idea to either increase the traction to their existing products or ultimately make this financial product itself as their star offering!
It may sound trivial, but I see this as that "future-tech" which, all of us who were born in the 70s or 80s thought that we could see in the 21st century!
From an opportunity size perspective, a Lightyear report estimates that embedded finance will grow to nearly $230 billion (in revenue) by 2025, up from $22.5 billion this year.
To give you a glimpse of the possibility, imagine a person who consulted a doctor in a clinic just walks out, takes a cab, and on the way picks up some grocery and enters her home (I know, you'll say, post COVID this is all digital, no problem it still applies:). If you notice the narration, not a single place did I mention that she stood and paid for anything! neither through cash nor through the phone.
Well, this is the idea. People in their regular life want to eat, travel, want to buy stuff, want to consult someone but not be bogged down by standing in queues, calculating the cash in hand, or even worry about a loan to be taken!
Yes, Embedded finance is that dream where financial transactions like Payments, getting a loan to purchase something, how to maximize savings etc. would no longer be a separate step in a user journey. It could be internally taken care of by the ecosystem in a secure way and money could be automatically debited or credited in a fair and derisked fashion to/from the customer's bank account.
This is what embedded finance could enable and this is why embedded finance will be the next big wave in the financial sector.
We have seen that banks had already strategized to tackle or counter this forthcoming perceived threat to their business by preparing for it early, by building what they called the Super-App! The likes of SBI YONO or a Kotak-811 were some of the early movers where the banking apps themselves are enabling other non-financial use cases right from purchase of Pencils and Rubberbanks to purchasing health insurance and Mutual Funds while also catering to money management and loan applications and instant disbursals all within the Banks App.
But the latest trend of embedded finance is exactly the opposite of that! This targets the removal of Banking transactions from any user journey to make it as seamless and frictionless as possible. Unlike the Banking Super Apps, Banking functions are now moving into other non-banking apps, be in a cab aggregator or e-commerce app, or even a social media app. The intention remains the same but the implementation is at the point where the action really takes place.
Some of the early movers we see in this space are the usual suspects like...
Btw.. the complete journeys are still not there, but the lego bricks are slowly getting built with different players at different levels of maturity. The trends in the market are clearly indicating this type of journey to be made available to the public very soon. Eg. With Jio moving into e-commerce, brick and mortar stores, pharmacy, banking, and whatnot, a unified embedded journey is only a couple of steps away. It does help to have to own all the pieces of the puzzle, which means that they don't need to get involved in the hassles of partnership negotiations, pricing clashes etc. So its much easier for them.
But you may also wonder, this is not rocket science, why were such products not already made available?
Well, it's about lining up of the multiple factors that have all finally come together now to enable such journeys. Some of these factors we're witnessing lately are things like...
The other big question, is What does it mean to the Banks and NBFCs? Is it a game of 'you v/s me' played between the Banks and embedded finance players?
In my opinion, it is not really a 'you v/s me' game, but it is, in fact, the game of survival of the fittest and the winner I'm sure is not the one trying to compete, but the one trying to co-operate and partner with the leading players. The customer engagement channels will now change from a bank offered channel to something that's part of any other customer life journey and Banks with a good partnership with such ecosystem players will emerge victoriously.
Coming to the final question, what is needed for embedded finance players to win?
The answers depend on 2 things. What is the current level of maturity of that organization and what is the level of maturity they would want to achieve? It's a tough decision and not a very easy journey. Big guns like Uber have very recently retracted from their financial journey. But it could be made easy with the help of a spread of buffet services that are all out there for players to pick and choose from.
Being part of the Perfios, let me restrict myself to the 5-star buffet spread from the Perfios Family.
These are some select list of services that can be availed as APIs by anyone, to offer as part of their user journey. Apart from all that is written above, the creation and growth of an Open Banking ecosystem will be the next big thing for the Indian financial sector and will play another huge role in the way all of the customer journeys would finally converge.
I'm hoping to next write a detailed paper on the status of Open Banking ecosystem in India along with the market potential and the different use cases that it could open up.
Do feel free to message me on LinkedIn to know more or if you'd like to discuss further on this topic.
Author: Sandesh Jayarama
Vice President - New Business Initiatives at Perfios Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd.