Start-ups based out of Singapore are increasingly making their way into Indian markets. And it’s not just the cheap air travel tickets to the two countries that makes it easier. Relaxed tax norms and a government free of red tape, not forgetting the access to funds and presence of investors and mentors, make Singapore a desired destination to start up. Once they do start their business, the Indian market is almost always appealing to the start-ups in the neighbouring country, and they see themselves expanding into the Indian market.
Singapore – The Fintech Hub
There are many Indian entrepreneurs who shift their base to Singapore so as to build their startup there. Talking about why they decided to do so, Hari Sivan, CEO, Socash, a digital cash management platform for banks, says, “The three key enablers we needed were a supportive regulator, clients willing to experiment and a good payment infrastructure. We found Monetary Authority of Singapore very supportive of our product. Also, most of the global banks have their APAC headquarters in Singapore and the payment infrastructure is really world class.”
Focusing specifically on how a Fintech company can expand if based out of Singapore, Brahma Mahesh Khaderbad, Co-founder and CEO, FinMomenta, which has a peer to peer lending platform called Tachyloans, said, “Singapore has been the fintech hub for quite a while. There are 200 international banks and more than 80 fintech companies headquartered there. It gives us a huge opportunity to work with them in innovating to develop new products and automate processes that will help the financial services industry. The Singapore Government has been start-up friendly and the environment helps fintech start-ups to collaborate and innovate. Singapore also provides us access to other markets, and was hence the natural choice for us to set shop.”
Foraying into the Indian Market
The Fintech sector in India is growing at a very fast pace and is revolutionising the way we function. From cashless payments to instant credit loans, fintech has embraced the nooks and corners of the country. “Today, Indian customers are receptive of innovative ideas and welcome new products. The market has certainly embraced companies/innovators from across the globe and the government policies have been encouraging. The major benefit for us in entering India is the inherent advantage of vast and diverse markets. This helps us learn, experiment and get innovative with products and processes which, I believe, can be replicated in any other market. There are so many market segments that we can cater to, and working in a market like India, keeps us on our toes to create products that meet the needs of every segment of customers,” said Khaderbad.
But there are challenges too. “The challenge is that the problems & priorities of the clients are very different in India and this requires us to adapt our platform to the market realities. It is similar to the process when global car manufactures had to adapt their chasis the meet the conditions of the india roads and natural behaviours of the drivers here,” said Sivan.
Develop Products in Singapore, Implement them in India
The differences between the markets in the two countries are many. While Singapore offers a friendly government with easier policies, the Indian market gives entrepreneurs varied market preferences throughout the length and the breadth of the country.
“Difference in the markets boils down to the priorities. In india, bankers get excited when they see products solving their challenges in financial inclusion or lending. In developed markets like Singapore, where the population is typically over-banked, the priority is to find solutions that improves their cost-to-income ratios,” said Sivan, who is running a pilot project in India currently.
Meanwhile, Khaderbad, who has set up offices in Singapore, Bangalore and Chennai, has built a customer base of more than 1,000 users in just two months. “Our current focus in India is to take digital lending to every part of the country and make lending a convenient action. Our Singapore unit also works on developing innovative products for the world in the fintech space using block chain technology, big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said Khaderbad.