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Nitin.9.thmb.jpg Indian SMEs digitalizing financial operations, not just payments: CredAble (UpScale) MD

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SME Times News Bureau | 04 Dec, 2022

In an exclusive interview with SME Times, Mr. Nitin Sharma, MD, CPO, at CredAble (UpScale) said that India's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are able to compete with their counterparts around the world because they are digitalizing all of their financial operations, not just payments.

Excerpts of the interview…

  1. Please tell our readers about yours & UpScale’s entrepreneurial journey.

    My entrepreneurial journey started in 2014, when I joined Snapdeal’s technology team. This was the first time I joined a startup after working with large MNCs. I realized right away how important it is to get big plans done as soon as possible. The pace, and the thrill were infectious, of course, but more importantly, it also helped me realize the sense of purpose through entrepreneurship when I saw Snapdeal scale 10x during my tenure there.

    I pursued my MBA soon after. Post-MBA, I started my own venture (in the hyperlocal discovery space) and acquired several of my current entrepreneurial skills in the next 2 years.

    Early in 2017, I met Nirav and Ram, who wanted to build a disruptive platform for India Inc. to access working capital financing. Thus, since day 0 of CredAble, I’ve been building the product and technology teams alongside having other responsibilities, and five years down the road, we're now India’s largest working capital technology platform.

    I’ve been a part of the CredAble journey, where from our very first customer we grew to a 3,00,000+ customer base that also includes 150+ of India’s largest enterprises and 30+ banking partnerships. We are now a Series B-funded startup with over 200 team members.

If the last 5.5 years have taught me anything, it is that entrepreneurship requires perseverance and a group of smart, passionate people with a problem solving mindset to build a business that creates a lasting impact.

This is also exactly how UpScale was launched a year ago. Our exposure and expertise in the business ecosystem helped us understand the challenges our SMEs face. It pushed us to build this unique application that not only connects credit and cashflow management together but also helps in the digital transformation movement that is now defining the next decade for SMEs in India.

  1. What services do you provide and what is your competitive edge?

UpScale by CredAble is a unique business application that combines the three pillars of business growth - credit, payments, and trade (marketplace).

The app is available to any business owner with a smartphone and an internet connection. That’s all a business requires to access UpScale and use its powerful features, like GST and E-Invoice creation, B2B payment solutions like automated payment reminders, online collections and reconciliation, vendor verification and management, etc.

We’re also the only application that has over 30 banking partnerships to help SME owners access working capital in various forms - secured and unsecured business loans, invoice discounting, Buy Now Pay Later programs, etc.

However, our uniqueness lies not only in the powerful features but also in the fact that these features were conceptualized, designed, and built keeping in mind SMEs first, which has given us a competitive advantage and earned us the trust of our customers.

  1. How UpScale is a growth partner for SMEs and Financial Growth?

Unlike other applications that try to solve a specific problem, UpScale by CredAble looks at the key indicators of holistic growth, i.e., timely access to working capital, a seamless flow of financial information and operations, and a growing platform to encourage and support B2B trade.

Our experience at CredAble has taught us that only when a business has the right solution to the above, can it see unprecedented growth.

That’s exactly what UpScale brings to the table. It is far from just another business application with a list of features. Rather, it is the right solution for businesses to scale.

As of today, only 16% of Indian MSMEs have formal access to credit. Our mission at UpScale is to bridge this massive credit gap of USD 350 BN.

  1. Digitalization of payments in assisting India's SMEs growth ladder. Your views?

India's small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are able to compete with their counterparts around the world because they are digitalizing all of their financial operations, not just payments.

With the UPI revolution and its rapid growth, India has been the frontrunner of digital payments.

In the lending space, it is going to pave the way again with OCEN, a revolutionary technology that helps lenders connect and disburse loans seamlessly to the last-mile borrower.

As a product from CredAble, UpScale is one of the few platforms in India that uses OCEN technology to help lenders find credit-worthy borrowers and help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get instant business credit.

  1. How fintechs are leveraging the technology and helping in digital lending?

According to a report by the FinTech Association for Consumer Empowerment (FACE), there has been a 149% growth in loans disbursed from Rs. 65.56 lakhs during Q2 FY22 to Rs. 162.95 lakhs during Q2 FY23.

A credit expansion like this shows how financial technology can be used to take advantage of opportunities that weren't being used before through digital lending. As the demand for business loans grew 1.6 times higher than the pre-pandemic levels, both the government and lenders opted for the digital route to ease access to working capital.

FinTechs like UpScale and CredAble, at large, are helping financial institutions with connecting with borrowers, structuring their credit profiles, and facilitating seamless disbursements. Thanks to the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, giving credit has become more efficient (manual mistakes are less likely) and open to more people.

  1. What are the challenges UpScale has faced and has overcome in the fintech market.

As a nascent product, the first year of UpScale has been challenging but very, very interesting.

Our UpScale family is growing by the day, from our first users on November 10, 2021 to more than 250,000 users on the platform today.

We’ve seen our fair share of challenges. Specifically, in terms of understanding the users’ requirements and tweaking the product accordingly. We’ve been fortunate enough to receive feedback from both our users and partners, who have helped us make our product a holistic solution for business growth.

  1. Please tell about your future plans.

The next year will be a very crucial one for us at UpScale. We’re looking towards expanding our B2B trade marketplace with the sole intention of helping businesses find verified vendor/suppliers and a trusted platform to do B2B transactions.

Apart from that, we’re closely monitoring the new regulations concerning SMEs announced by the Government of India and RBI, and building features like E-Invoicing solutions to help them be on par with the rules and regulations.

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