The guy who built Aadhaar is now tackling SMEs

Nitin Mittal is launching Solv, a StanChart-backed fintech that’s replicating e-commerce models.

10 November 2019

Nitin Mittal says his KPI is how many jobs his new venture will create.

“Helping SMEs grow means they employ more people,” he said about his new venture, Solv.

He says he hopes the company can help create up to 10 million jobs in India over the next three years. That’s just a start, though, as the model being developed should scale to other emerging markets.

The Bangalore-based Mittal has recently served as Standard Chartered Bank’s head of innovation and advance technology, and then shifted to SC Ventures, the bank’s internal accelerator. He began working on Solv in early 2019.

He’s also served as digital and chief data officer at AIG and founded a healthcare-focused software company, Cureus Technologies. But Mittal is probably best known for having been the chief technology officer who oversaw the creation of Aadhaar, on behalf of the Unique Identification Authority of India.

Helping small businesses

But Solv came out of his time working at StanChart, first in digital banking then transaction banking, at which point he met Alex Manson, who had recently launched SC Ventures. And Mittal had a pain point he wanted to solve.

Having been an entrepreneur himself, he knew what it was like to deal with Indian banks as a small company. “Opening an account, getting a credit card – it’s a nightmare,” he said.

Furthermore, small businesses are on their own when it comes to payments, invoicing, cash on delivery, reconciliation, and business logistics.

As a transaction banker, Mittal witnessed attempts to create an ecosystem for big corporate clients. Could something similar be created for SMEs, which need basic services much more badly?

Solv was created as a way of connecting India’s small businesses in order to buy and sell among one another. “The hook is commerce,” he said. “SMEs are all about trade. They always need more business. I want to ensure they can get it on our platform.”

Marketplace

So the first part of Solv is a B2B marketplace, with a distributed-ledger tech underpinning how SMEs communicate and transact. Small businesses typically buy and sell with people they know. Trust, as well as logistics, are fundamental. But just as Amazon and Flipkart engendered trust for the consumer space, Solv intends to enable that level of trust for business deals among SMEs.

If it gets a few million small companies buying and selling with each other, it will generate the data required to enable banks to provide financing to businesses they would otherwise avoid.

The data can also underpin new business services to the platform’s users, such as in payments, logistics, and credit, as well as areas such as tax, compliance, and finding gig workers.

There’s also a supply-chain component, as Mittal is looking for large anchor corporations to join and put their suppliers and distributors on the platform.

Credit scoring

He says the company is now in beta with 500 SMEs, and it should go live in February. Five Indian banks, including StanChart’s local business, are also signed up.

So is Tredes, a trade-receivables platform created by the government of India. Solv has integrated Tredes’ APIs for vendors, and is adding dealer-distribution companies as well, to create an entire value chain for bigger companies.

Experian is also on board to help Solv use artificial intelligence to develop credit scores for SME users.

“We’re replicating the data-driven digital trust model, using credit history, operations history, and alternative data, to develop a score for trust,” Mittal said. “It’s going to be used for both business matchmaking on the site, and for financing.” He hopes other banks and lenders will come to embrace the score as a credit model.

But Solv is not a deposit-taking business; it’s not a bank, but a service that banks can use to enable SME lending.

Given Standard Chartered’s presence in Asian and African emerging markets, Mittal believes its backing can enable Solv to launch in many countries – particularly given many Indian SMEs already trade overseas.

But there could be limits to Solv’s reach, as it is leveraging the “India Stack”, government-sponsored digital layers that enable seamless KYC, identity verification, and payments.

Aadhaar is a key pillar in the India Stack. Whether Solv can easily expand to countries lacking this kind of infrastructure – or has to travel only to places where India’s government succeeds in exporting its infrastructure model – remains to be seen.

SC Ventures at Hong Kong Fintech Week

8 November 2019

We had a great time at Hong Kong FinTech Week 2019! Thank you for meeting us at our booth! And thank you for all the speakers who shared their expertise with us: Economy in China and Hong Kong by Kelvin Lau and Rose Kay Partnering with SCB – SC Ventures, Bridge, Banking and FSIG by Liam Gilligan and Lucy Demery Technology Innovation in the Transformation of Banking Industry by Martin Szeto of ASTRI, followed by fireside chat together with Liam Gilligan and Annie Chen SCALE – Access Bank FX Liquidity via API by Kelvin Liang Tips and tricks for landing a Bank Account by FinTech Advisory and CFCC Learnt more about us here: https://scventures.io

Next stop – #SingaporeFinTechFestival !

Article: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/scventures_singaporefintechfestival-hkfintechweek-rewiringthednainbanking-activity-6598504531452092417-3YcO

Instabase: Partnership success story

21 October 2019

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Instabase, the platform company for business applications, today announced that it has raised $105 million in Series B funding, led by Index Ventures with participation from existing investors Greylock Partners, New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and Andreessen Horowitz. Additional participating investors include Spark Capital, Tribe Capital, SC Ventures, and Glynn Capital. This latest round brings Instabase’s total funding to $132 million and values the company at over $1 billion. Instabase will use the funding to accelerate recruiting and scale its core platform, which is transforming enterprise business processes and pioneering the future of business applications. Sarah Cannon, a Partner at Index Ventures, will join Instabase’s Board of Directors.

Instabase officially launches and raises $105M to reimagine business apps from the ground up

Instabase’s vision is to make computers work for people, and not the other way around, empowering people to focus on the meaningful, productive parts of their jobs. Instabase’s platform enables businesses to build customizable apps for automating different parts of their business. For example, a bank can quickly build an app that can automatically verify customer income in a fraction of a second by combing through documents such as camera pictures or scans of paystubs, tax documents, bank statements, and other similar documents submitted by the customer. The platform comes equipped with the tools for reading documents, data extraction and classification, natural language processing, and optical character recognition. It is designed to enable creators, developers, and organizations to quickly build complex business applications based on their needs.

Instabase also offers an app store, a growing marketplace of pre-packaged business apps for different industries, such as Income Verification, Adverse Media Analysis, Identity Verification, Trade Finance, Contract Analysis, and Financial Spreading. “Today, on your smartphone you have an app store where you can find a dozen apps to have food delivered to your door, but we don’t have an app store where large enterprises, for example, a bank can find an app for income verification; or an insurance company can find an app for processing claims; every such application is custom built. We should wonder — why?” said Anant Bhardwaj, CEO, and Founder of Instabase.

Instabase is working with more than half of the top ten financial institutions in the U.S., as well as many global banks. In November 2018, Standard Chartered Bank announced a partnership with Instabase to automate their client onboarding, credit documentation, and KYC processes. This reduced the average client onboarding time from 41 to 8 days within their Corporate & Institutional Banking business. Their Retail Banking business was able to accelerate lending to SMEs (Small and Mid-size Enterprises) with Instabase’s platform, providing an estimated savings of 300 hours a week with much faster turnaround time and reduction in human errors. “Our partnership with Instabase has been a success story with a tremendous amount of two-way learning,” said Alex Manson, Global Head of SC Ventures. “We share Anant and his team’s vision and partnership ethos and are excited to participate in their next phase of growth.”

“The addressable opportunity for Instabase is staggering as the market is transitioning towards intelligent automation. I am thrilled to be working with a visionary founder like Anant and his deeply technical team,” said Sarah Cannon, a Partner at Index Ventures.

Instabase was founded in 2015 by Anant Bhardwaj, while he was a Ph.D. student at MIT in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). In August 2015, he left his Ph.D. program and moved to the Bay Area to pursue building Instabase. There he met Peter Sonsini, General Partner at NEA, who seeded the company along with Jerry Chen of Greylock Partners. Martin Casado from Andreessen Horowitz led the Series A in June 2017.

“We first met Anant in 2015 and could instantly tell he was working on something incredible,” said Pete Sonsini, General Partner and Head of Enterprise Investing at NEA. “We have been consistently impressed with Instabase’s progress — they are pioneering what the future of automation will be. We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the Instabase team.”

About Instabase 

Instabase was founded in 2015 by Anant Bhardwaj who dropped out of his PhD program at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Instabase’s vision is to make computers work for people, and not the other way around, empowering people to focus on the meaningful, productive parts of their job. Investors backing Instabase include Greylock Partners, NEA, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, Spark Capital, Tribe Capital, SC Ventures, and Glynn Capital. To learn more about Instabase, please contact us at press@instabase.com.

Article: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191021005161/en/Instabase-Raises-105M-Reimagine-Business-Applications-Ground

The eXellerator Hong Kong is now at Central, Des Voeux Road 2/F!

The launch of our 2nd lab in HK puts us at the heart of the city and fintech ecosystem. We look forward to more collaboration. The 3 day series of events kicked off with a Breakfast session on our HK virtual bank followed by a lab tour showcasing capabilities and how SC Ventures is a platform and innovation catalyst for the bank

16 October 2019

The #eXellerator Hong Kong is now at Central, Des Voeux Road 2/F! The launch of our 2nd lab in HK puts us at the heart of the city and fintech ecosystem. We look forward to more collaboration. The 3 day series of events kicked off with a Breakfast session on our HK virtual bank followed by a lab tour showcasing capabilities and how SC Ventures is a #platform and #innovation catalyst for the bank.

Article:
https://www.linkedin.com/posts/scventures_exellerator-platform-innovation-activity-6590063805101813760-nlSN

Edward Neequaye, winner of Lead2030 SDG 9, receives $50,000 as well as mentorship support from SC Ventures

4 October 2019

Edward Neequaye, CA, one of the winners of #Lead2030, receiving $50,000 as well as mentorship support from SC Ventures as he works towards #SDG 9: Building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. We’re proud to support Edward and Built Accounting. Catch him at our Standard Chartered Bank booth at #Lead2030 #OYW2019 Summit in #London on 23 October!

Article: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/scventures_lead2030-sdg-lead2030-activity-6585812553346187264-CJWA