Swiss startups discover the untapped potential in India’s fintech sector

A delegation including Swiss startups and academia were invited by swissnex India for a week-long Fintech tour in India. Having explored and learnt about the Indian fintech market, the Swiss delegation is certain about exploiting the untapped potential in the country.

Three Swiss fintech startups – accompanied by Pieter Perrett, from the School of Business, University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland – embarked for a week-long tour in India to explore the country’s Fintech market. The tour was organised by swissnex India as part of their initiative to connect Switzerland and India in the fields of science, education, art, and innovation. The Fintech tour particularly focused on laying a foundation for the Indo-Swiss collaboration in the Fintech sector. The Swiss delegation comprised of: founders of the startups Qumram AG, B-safer and the newly launched ValUbot, as well as from investiere.

Through their visits to various Indian and international banks as well as fintech startups, the delegates witnessed the impressive Indian Fintech ecosystem. A recent swissnex fintech report (2016) stresses that the two broad segments where fintech is most active in India are payments and lending. Delegates also witnessed the global insurer Swiss Re’s impressive work undertaken in their Bengaluru office. The discussions provided a basis for further Indo-Swiss collaboration and enabled start-ups to raise their questions and discuss their plans with the network of Indian investors. Furthermore, the delegation was exposed to the India Stack, comprising of Aadhaar, India’s advanced digital authentication system, which stands to change the game for digital payments, and India’s open application programming interfaces (API), mandated by the government under the Digital India initiative.

Significant potential in combining strengths
What does the vibrant Indian fintech ecosystem mean for Swiss startups? There was an exciting buzz amongst the delegates about the potential of the Indian market. After an intensive week and several discussions, Swiss startups were impressed and are positive that they could provide solutions and know-how that are beneficial for the transforming Indian fintech sector.

“India and Baking in India are just starting the journal of digital transformation. Compliance, cyber security and customer centricity are key aspects. We are happy to support the banks and fintechs in India”, said Mathias Wegmueller, founder of Qumram. “The setup digital infrastructure of India with Aadhaar, Jandhan and UPI will boost the digital transformation and banking in India. With the smart use of innovative power of global digital fintech leaders, to secure compliance and security, India will excel in becoming a digital nation”, he added.

Balz Strasser, CEO of Swissnex India, stated: "The tour was a 'door opener' for Swiss delegates to engage with multiple stakeholders in two key locations – Bengaluru and Mumbai."

The Swiss startups met Indian fintech startups such as Zestmoney, signzy and Razorpay, and delegates were able to engage with accelerator and incubator spaces in Mumbai such as Zone Startups India located at the iconic Bombay Stock Exchange tower and the recently launched RISE Mumbai.

Mike Hobmeier, CIO investiere and founder of startup B-Safer, sees significant potential in combining strengths. He stated, “As a venture capital investor, I am impressed by the untapped potential of India. 95% of the startups financed in Switzerland do not think of India as a target market. This is true across all industries, be it fintech, agritech, high-tech, medtech etc. Swissnex helps to bridge this gap in a pragmatic way.” He adds: “As digitalisation is making progress, people should be aware of cyber-crime.” For this reason, Hobmeier is confident that his Startup’s patented Swiss-made product, B-Safer card protector, will help curb cyber-crime. B-safer helps consumers effectively protect their bank cards. Hobmeier’s objective of travelling to India was to find competent distributors and corporate clients for their product.

Prateek Khare, Swissnex’s Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, based in Bengaluru, stressed that while this particular initiative focusses on fintech, Swissnex India has already provided opportunities for 37 Swiss startups to invest in the Indian market. And will continue to support this dynamism through 2017.

Photo: swissnex India