Rajeev Suri Managing partner, Orios Venture Partners.
Rajeev Suri Managing partner, Orios Venture Partners.

Good engineering talent is necessary, but not sufficient: Rajeev Suri Managing partner, Orios Venture Partners

There is a bigger reason for the excitement around fintech

Why is fintech exciting today? After all, the financial services industry has, over the last 40 years, embraced technology more than others through adoption of computers, networks, ATM machines, and Visa/Switch. There is this ability to completely reinvent the customer experience. Digital allows you to re-imagine that experience in ways that have never been done before. For the financial services industry, this opportunity to re-imagine, it turns out, is actually bigger. A lot of the incumbent players have negative net promoter score. This seems supported by anecdotal evidence. We don’t look at our banks and our insurance companies with much favour.

There is a bigger reason for the excitement around fintech. The customers for these future services do not exist yet. There is a huge on-demand online to offline economy that has exponentially mushroomed in the last 3-4 years in India. In a world without Amazon, Flipkart, PharmEasy, Uber, Ola, or Swiggy, is there really a need for an e-wallet? I remember talking to Vijay Shekhar Sharma on Paytm’s prospects in 2015. He said, “I cannot predict what the numbers and growth will be, except that it will be huge."

In our industry, there is a saying. The outcome of the battle between every startup and the lead incumbent is decided on whether the startup gets the distribution before the incumbent gets the innovation. It boils down to distribution. Good engineering talent is necessary but not sufficient. If you are able to acquire an additional super power, the ability to grow virally without paying Facebook or Google to acquire users, you’ll ace it. However, it’s a really hard skill. Finally, it might be worth remembering that all fintech companies are not the same. It is particularly difficult when you are trying to get customers to give you money as compared to lending, where you are dispensing money to customers.

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