Pramod Bhasin, founder of business process management firm Genpact Ltd and former CEO of GE Capital India & Asia, and Anil Chawla, former head of GE Capital’s commercial business, acquired the commercial lending and leasing business of GE Capital in India with the backing of AION Capital Partners Ltd in September. The business has been renamed Clix Capital. In an interview, Bhasin talks about the gameplan ahead. Edited excerpts:
What’s your view on the current scenario of demonetisation? Will it be beneficial for lenders?
It’s a real concern for the short term as growth will slow down, borrowing will slow down and payments will slow down. We are fortunate as we are not fully in the game yet. I can see shops being hurt, consumer sales dip, which no one could be prepared for. The next couple of quarters might be really painful. However, it will allow everyone to participate in the economy in the medium and long term and the entire push towards digitization will be very good for us and the economy. Ultimately, it could also drive cultural change against black money and really double and treble the taxpayer base. The overall long-term result could be very positive.
If you look around the world, India is one of the most attractive places to do business anywhere in the world, and especially in financial services, the growth prospects are good—as long as we remain disciplined about risk management.
You closed the GE Capital India buyout recently. What are the growth plans?
We closed the acquisition two months ago. We have assets of $300 million which will be used as a base to expand business. We have identified three major segments for business—consumer, SME (small and medium enterprise) lending and commercial/corporate lending. Within that, there are multiple segments—consumer durables, used car loans, personal loans, education loans, school loans—in the consumer space. We may plan housing finance in future. The size of lending could be anywhere between Rs10,000 to Rs50-70 crore depending on the segment. Our firm was renamed as Clix Capital a month ago and all regulatory approvals are in place.
What role do you expect to play in the area of technology where you have expertise as the founder of Genpact?
We strongly believe that technology platforms, especially those focused on mobile technology, will be a key differentiator for us. We will also add very strong analytical capability, leveraging my prior experience as the founder of Genpact, where we built one of the largest analytics capabilities in India. While there are many fintech companies that are coming up, many struggle because of lack of funding and strong underwriting capabilities. We still have separate worlds between banks and financial services companies, many of whom are carrying legacy systems, and technology companies which are trying to go beyond just their technology platform.
At Clix, we want to build the best hybrid financial and technology solution to take our products to customers in a unique manner, which delivers speed, convenience, backed by strong underwriting.
Acquisitions are common in the non-banking financial company space—several smaller buyouts took place recently.
We will certainly expand business through acquisitions—whether loan portfolios, or smaller NBFCs or aggregating platforms. There are many interesting opportunities and platforms and we would keep looking and evaluating options. Right now, we want to focus most on building our businesses. Our major challenge is hiring talented people. We want to build a fantastic team, taking the best of GE and adding modern-day innovation and creativity and design thinking.
What are the challenges for NBFCs in India?
NBFCs have grown fast. High-quality companies have grown and opportunities in India are large. We have great success stories. The way wealth has been created, for example, in Kotak Bank, Bajaj, Induslnd and other private banks, is a fantastic story. Having said that, risk management remains a key issue.
In future, we will see competition from Amazon, Paytm and many other non-traditional players in this lending space. To face this competition, we must to explore innovative ways backed by technology and analytics, and move away from traditional ways of lending.