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How ICICI Bank’s InstaBIZ is digitally empowering India’s MSME sector

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ICICI Bank has made its InstaBIZ app interoperable, making the benefits of its business banking mobile app available to customers of other banks. The first-of-its kind initiative enables merchants, owners of grocery shops, supermarkets, restaurants, stationery stores, and pharmacies, including professionals like doctors and lawyers to instantly create digital collection solutions like UPI ID and QR code, and start collecting money from their customers immediately.

In a recent fireside chat with YourStory, Pankaj Gadgil, Head – Self Employed Segment, SME & Merchant Ecosystem, ICICI Bank, delved deeper into the development and its effectiveness. 

Open architecture has been the guided philosophy behind the organisation, reveals Gadgil. “The merchant ecosystem in India is huge with more than 2 crore merchants thriving till date. Thus, we thought of a plan where we could rope in all the banking solutions under one umbrella. We wanted to make sure every single Indian merchant can have a look at all the solutions we are trying to bring around the business banking side,” he explained. 

Tailor-made proposition for merchants

Every merchant looks for digital solutions that would allow them to acquire payments digitally. “With this latest proposition, even if a merchant is not a customer of the ICICI Bank, he can become a part of it by simply downloading the ‘InstaBIZ’ app from the Google Play Store and linking their bank account. So, now, he can do his transactional banking, fulfill his compliance needs, and can also apply for a loan digitally through the app if he wishes too. For cross-border merchants, transactions become easy and instant with InstaBIZ. Lastly, there is a networking section of the app that enables merchants to connect with like-minded counterparts. So, it’s like a one-stop solution for all the digi-enabled solutions,” added Gadgil. 

Now, can a merchant or a shopkeeper convert his store to an online store? Gadgil recalls how his team had a conversation with the merchants from the kirana store or even supermarkets. “A majority of merchants expressed their desire of creating their online identity in the form of stores. We initiated the concept of partnership, where we ensure a solution where the facility enables merchants of any bank to create a digital store on ‘EazyStore’ mobile app. They can choose from over 500 attractive templates and catalogues to design their digital store. The facility also enables merchants to create promotional campaigns, manage invoicing, inventory and collections. The digital stores can be created in flat 30 minutes by just four clicks. He can also order from his distributors online from the app itself,” he explained. 

Of course, this was a system which was rolled out during the pandemic, and was proven especially effective as customers were seeking contactless payments, adding to the safety of the end customers, thereby helping these merchants to generate more sales than before. 

Apart from this, there are also other value added services where merchants can instantly create and activate QR code and link it with their account in any other bank. They can then generate digital QR codes with specific amounts and share it with customers digitally on email or messaging platforms. Besides, merchants can also apply for a voice messaging device, ‘EazySound’, to get real-time instant payment confirmation for both successful as well as failed transactions.

“Apart from the above value-added features, we are successful to bring on the table a loyalty program for the merchants, where the merchants accept instant cashless payments from customers through POS/QR solution, get points for transactions which can be redeemed for shopping, vouchers, vacations, among others,” added Gadgil.

When a merchant downloads the app, he explains his business as a first step. Post that, there is a feature that allows him to link any other of his accounts, after which there is a digital validation based on the information he has entered in the system. This is the final step after which he gets digitally activated.  

Advanced data analytics and technology

InstaBIZ is a first-of-its-kind automated interoperable system in the business banking space. Merchants do not need to visit any branch nor upload any document as the initiative features a completely online and instant Know Your Customer (KYC) process. The initiative leverages advanced APIs of the bank that instantly and digitally validates PAN/Aadhaar number which is required for verification of KYC.

Gadgil also talks about video KYC going live for proprietorship and individuals in the near future. “In the times to come, the physical visits that used to happen for KYC might get replaced by the video KYC done by the banks for proprietorship and the individuals. Talking about entities, we also have the MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) which gives us the comfort to know that the merchant is in the right business. So, that’s the tech-stack enabling the entire functioning of InstaBIZ, and is the backbone enabling merchants to start using this app,” he said. 

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