Despite the wide banking network, Indian MSMEs still face challenges while securing finance from formal banking channels due to convoluted lending procedures, tedious paperwork, inflexible collateral requirements and slow disbursements. On the other hand, it takes a considerable amount of time and effort for a lender to collect data and verify it before taking the proposal ahead.
In 2016, Jinand Shah, a practising CA who was trying to raise funds for small companies, wondered if there was a possibility to digitise the process, so that MSMEs could get the funding faster. While conversing with Ronak Shah over a cricket match, he got the answer and together, they decided to start Online PSB Loans. “We are striving to create an ecosystem that can provide financial services to both parties involved in the lending transaction, using the latest technology,” says Jinand Shah, Co-founder and MD, Online PSB Loans.
Online PSB Loans: Digitising the entire lending process
Online PSB Loans Limited has launched the initiative ‘PSB Loans in 59 Minutes’ after a thorough analysis of financial as well as entrepreneurial ecosystems to remove time-consuming and tedious processes, and save substantial time, energy and costs in lending. As the name suggests, the platform has set a new benchmark by offering an in-principle approval for Business (MSME) Loans, Mudra Loans, Retail (personal, home and auto) Loans and Microfinance in 59 minutes from anywhere, anytime without having to visit the bank.
The solution uses sophisticated algorithms to read and analyse data points from various sources such as IT returns, GST data, Bank Statements, MCA21, Bureau and Fraud Database in real time while capturing the applicant’s basic details using smart analytics. Launched in November 2018, the platform emerged as India’s largest online lending portal within three months of starting operations.
The platform is mapped to all current lending processes irrespective of the type of bank/lending institution. Currently, there are 86,000+ branches integrated on the platform with more than 1,40,000 bankers using it.
Empowering both lenders and borrowers
Online PSB Loans is the only lending marketplace where all the major banks/financial institutions have been integrated on a single platform. “We empower both borrowers and lenders. We provide them with the choice to select their preferences for funding. This is the uniqueness that differentiates the platform from other players,” says Ronak Shah, Co-founder and COO, Online PSB Loans.
For borrowers, the process is contactless and simplified as there is only one form to be filled, regardless of the lender you choose. They can apply from anywhere or any time without visiting a bank branch, manage and track their applications in real-time, and even apply for multiple loans through a single profile. With real in-time principle approval within 59 minutes, the loan is disbursed within 7-10 days by the bank. With the finance bit managed, it gives borrowers time to focus on other important business operations.
For lenders, on the other hand, proposals are screened by the platform, helping them save substantial time and cost. The platform analytics with 1,000+ checks helps them find early warning signs to efficiently process and disburse loans. Also, this is the only platform with a banker interface covering branch level integrations for bankers for real-time user management, creating real-time product and scoring models, credit appraisal and decision-making in line with their existing credit policies as well as real-time reporting and monitoring.
AWS as the technology partner
Online PSB Loan’s platform is built on an extremely powerful engine based on the latest technology. Five years ago, the founders wanted a platform that would take care of their infrastructure, while they focused on the development of the platform. AWS was their obvious choice for two reasons – the flexibility it provides and the speed at which AWS components could be deployed benefitting borrowers and bankers.
“We are a platform that is completely driven by lending. We had to build an API-first approach and microservices framework. Keeping this in mind, we went with AWS and over the last five years, it has proved to be the right choice,” says Subhash Gaitonde, CIO, Online PSB Loans.
Their entire transaction processing front-end layering of the app is on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), they use Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) from a data standpoint, Elastic Load Balancing to handle platform traffic, and S3 as both object store and archival, helping them optimise costs by 10 percent baseline.
Apart from these four primary components, they also use Amazon Route 53 for their domain name. From a security perspective, they use Amazon CloudWatch and AWS WAF (Web Application Firewall). “When you’re a fintech, you have bank integrations and confidential data. Our platform is built with API, so we take data from many sources and need the right security pieces in play,” adds Subhash.
Scaling with AWS
Online PSB Loans’ interaction with lenders and borrowers are primarily driven by email and SMS. AWS provides readily available configurations which help provide a superior omnichannel experience. Also, bankers require analytics and insights on their dashboard. Since these components were already available on AWS, they didn’t have to build anything new on top of it.
From a scale perspective, on days when there is an overload in website traffic, AWS helps them scale/descale and move from cluster active-active to active-passive within 30 minutes in real-time, without impacting customers using the platform. This allows them to manage costs in relation to traffic on Amazon EC2, and keep a cap within (+/-) 10 percent of the planned monthly spend.
AWS has also heavily invested in the company’s talent. “Finding talent to manage the cloud is a challenge for startups. Over the years, we found a great resourcing partner in AWS – they have built a pool of certified learning courses and spent significant time training the resources,” says Subhash. Apart from people and the environment, AWS also provides the ability to extend a component in case of a pivot.
The road ahead
Since its launch, Online PSB Loans has witnessed a huge flow of loan applications and more than 3,000 video testimonials have been received from borrowers showing gratitude for timely help and support, which is a first in the MSME financing segment. But, the founders say the journey has only started. “Pre-COVID, we digitised Mudra Loans and now we’re in the process of creating a digital lending ecosystem where both the lenders’ and borrowers’ entire lifecycles can be managed,” says Ronak.
No matter how complicated the loan product, the company is working to create the capability for bankers to design it on their platform and borrowers to apply in an hour or less. The second aspect they are working on is tracking the lending process, to ensure that the money is used for the reason it was borrowed. And finally, fast-tracking the lending journey by offering tailored products to borrowers much before they come to search the platform.
On the AWS front, while Online PSB Loans was an application-led platform, they are shifting to become a profile-centric platform. They have adopted AWS Sagemaker, aligned to an RDS-oriented data lake design that helps build and test models faster and within the same security layered infrastructure, helping them save approximately two weeks. “It’s a subtle shift from transaction orientation to analytics led. We will be seeing more of AWS’s data lake and AI side in the near future,” says Subhash.