Fullerton India’s digital business has grown 10x in the last one year

Rajashree Nambiar, CEO & MD, Fullerton India Credit Company
Rajashree Nambiar, CEO & MD, Fullerton India Credit Company

Fullerton India provides instant “Cash-in-account” to salaried individuals, for up to Rs 60,000 for new customers applying on our Instaloan app, fully leveraging the advanced data-analytics capabilities. The digital business has grown 10x over the last one year, and over 20% of new salaried customers are originated via our digital business. EC’s Abhishek Raval speaks with Rajashree Nambiar, CEO & MD, Fullerton India Credit Company

How important is digitization in Fullerton India Credit Company’s growth strategy?
Fullerton India believes digitization can bring monumental transformation into the lending business and hence forms a core a pillar of our growth strategy. Our recent efforts in digitizing existing business and introducing new digital vertical within the organization will further our position as a digital pioneer among the incumbents.

With our investments and focus on digitization, we attract more than 1 million visits every month on our website, and service unsecured loans upto Rs 20Lacs to customers through web and app with instant decisioning and 100% digital journey. We provide instant “Cash-in-account” to salaried individuals up to Rs 60,000 for new customers applying on our Instaloan app, fully leveraging our advanced data-analytics capabilities. Our digital business has grown 10x over the last one year, and over 20% of new salaried customers are originated via our digital business.

What steps have you taken so far towards moving on the digital path?
Digital devices are getting affordable, and more people are using these as a part of their day to day activities. Recognizing this, we have introduced services that aid in this process of digitization. Few of these services are online lending platform- both web based and app based, online verification through eVerify mobile app, assessing customer credibility through alternate data sources through Instaloan app and lending over Facebook through chatbot ASHA, which is a self-learning chatbot available on Facebook messenger and provides an interactive medium for customers to apply and submit documentation and receive loan approvals.

We actively use digital channels like email marketing, search marketing, social media marketing etc. to reach out to new customers as well as to engage with existing customers. We are one of the few financial services providers that leverage social media for managing their accounts. When it comes to our business, use of technology is not just restricted to urban areas. With the increasing number of smartphones and internet users in the rural areas, we have witnessed a clear shift in rural areas in terms of adoption of the digital payment ecosystem.

Fullerton India is an early adopter of technology in rural areas. We started using bio-metrics for customer identification since commencement of our rural operations in 2009. Our rural frontline staff is equipped with tablets to be able to digitally record transactions at the customer’s doorstep. This is especially true for the higher ticket loans like housing. Our collection process is also completely digitised. We have a fully adaptive website that easily allows customers to make payments in almost all forms of digital mechanisms – bank transfer, debit cards, wallets. We do a thorough risk analysis and prioritise higher risk accounts, provide for an analytically driven debt management solution for the customer and improve our ability to contact and reach customers, through analytics. We have also digitised our on-the-street collections infrastructure – through instant payments, geo-mapping and optimising collections routes, and dynamically allocating collectibles – dramatically improved the efficiency with which our collectors reach out to our customers for overdues.

Our investment in technology goes beyond in-house developments. We have an innovation initiative titled Finnovatica, where we develop and nurture technology ideas from young innovators. We aim to provide student entrepreneurs the platform to nurture and grow an idea into a scalable product which can be applied in the business operations of retail and rural lending.

With respect to steps taken on the customer side, what are the benefits visualized?
Digitization has enabled better last mile reach as well as minimized the time and efforts required to obtain organized financial assistance. Today our customers have a choice of applying for a loan through our web portal, can download our InstaLoan app or chat with ASHA over FB messenger and – in all cases – get near-instantaneous decisions and real-time update on the loan status. These initiatives have helped minimize customer touch-points across origination sources and thereby reduced the overall loan processing time. Currently, new customers who submit the complete application and required documents online, get their loans disbursed in a completely seamless manner in less than 24 hours. With our digitization efforts we have reduced the TAT significantly.

What are some steps taken on the back end? In case these steps aren’t taken, what’s in the works and under process, to make the company digital, internally?
Currently, our web and mobile apps use cloud based open architecture with agile workflows and have direct API integrations with all our core lending systems thereby enabling faster turn-around time. We leverage India stack to digitize agreement execution and repayment through Aadhaar based e-sign and e-NACH facilities. IVR and servicing apps handle more than 40% of customer service requests and our collections receipting process is completely digital.  We are continuously evaluating labor intensive repetitive tasks and automating through RPA (Robotic process automation).

What are your plans to have an agile IT and data platform, to make the company nimble and responsive to change. What are the benefits visualized?
We have strong social, mobile and analytics capabilities built through cloud based micro-service architecture and agile workflows, to embrace future technology advancements. Instaloan app is an outcome of our digital innovations team, leveraging India stack, advanced alternate data analytics and proprietary algorithms to provide instant disbursal to customers. Our customer onboarding platform is built with dynamic workflows that can easily act as plug-and-play solutions across any ecosystem and has enabled seamless integration with digital partners.

What are your plans to leverage technology in risk management?
Rapid progress in software applications provides infinite opportunities to leverage technology at every step of our risk framework. However the areas that will benefit the most are customer acquisition, credit risk processes and fraud control. We extensively use tablets, website and mobile apps, online connectivity to credit bureau and scorecard based rule engines. We also use tools for identity verification (UIDAI and NSDL), extracting banking and financial details of borrowers and skimming legal information. We are currently evaluating solutions that will help in fraud containment using face-match tool and light retraction/pixel combination technology to identify document manipulation.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has identified 80 percent of NBFCs in the high risk category because they havent appointed a principal officer and designated officer to check and report such transactions. What are the systems to trace suspicious transactions?
Fullerton has appointed a principal officer since inception. We place very high emphasis on compliance to regulations and statutory norms. The company has established a very robust mechanism to identify Suspicious Transactions as defined by FIU-Ind. We also report such transactions in the prescribed form to the FIU as per the laid down guidelines under PMLA. Our board also reviews compliance to regulation on a quarterly basis.