These Founders are Developing Full Stack Digital Banking Solutions
Vinay Bagri and Virender Bisht, co-founders of Niyo Solutions, are using digital technology and insights to improve customer experience of banking customers across product lines
Vinay Bagri wants to make Niyo a one stop shop for all banking and financial needs of customers. “We have leveraged technology extensively to build an end to end digital, paperless, branchless banking experience for our customers,” says the co-founder and CEO of the fintech startup.
Bagri, along with his friend Virender Bisht co-founded Niyo in 2015 with a multi-pocket prepaid card, aimed at maximising tax benefits available to salaried employees, as its first offering. Having headed salary accounts at Standard Chartered Bank for almost 10 years, Bagri very well understood customer’s pain points related to availing tax benefits from their salary account and wanted to simplify them. He partnered with Bisht, who holds over 18 years of experience in technology domain, to devise tech solutions for the problem.
Following the success of their first product, the fintech company has added two more products—Niyo DCB Global Card, a globally accepted travel card with zero forex mark-up and Niyo IDFC First bank savings account offering up to 7 per cent interest rate—to its kitty.
Not A Neo-Bank
Bagri explains that Niyo doesn’t create banking products as such, rather collaborates with banks to enrich digital banking experience of users. “The product and customers belong to the bank. We create a more user friendly mobile banking experience by developing apps loaded with additional features on top of banking products,” he says.
Currently, Niyo has three mobile apps—Niyo (for savings account and/or travel card), Niyo Bharat (for salary account for blue-collar workers) and Niyo Benefits (prepaid card for tax benefits).
But, most banks have their own full-fledged net banking apps, so why a separate third-party app?
The idea is to pick a niche segment of users and do a little more than what a net banking app does for them, says Bagri. “For instance, in the case of our Niyo Global travel card, which is in collaboration with DCB bank, Niyo app gives you additional information, such as which ATM allows withdrawal for free, real time currency rates and even suggestions for places to eat when you are travelling in a foreign land.” As of March 2020, Niyo Global Card user base grew about 45X in one year, adding around 10,000 new users every month.
Similarly, Niyo Bharat prepaid card, which is given to blue-collar workers on opening of their salary account, can be controlled through Niyo Bharat mobile app that is packed with a range of features. Available in over 10 vernacular languages, the app lets the user download statements, view passbook and raise tickets in their native language, transfer money to other accounts instantly and lock, unlock or block their card in a few taps for security purposes.
Most interestingly, the app comes with a voice assistant that guides the user through it by talking to him. “Since the product is aimed at blue-collar workers some of whom may not be able to read or write, this feature is extremely relevant for our users,” says Bagri. Niyo has tied-up with Yes Bank and DCB Bank for opening zero balance salary accounts and very soon will add options of small-ticket loans, investment in mutual funds and bill payments to the app.
For its business model, Bagri refuses to call Niyo a neo-bank in the true sense of the word. “India doesn’t even have neo-banking license category as yet so terming us one is not really correct,” he says.
However, as and when the regulators open up to this category, Bagri would definitely like to apply for a license to become a completely digital, branchless bank. “Till then, we are fintech partners for existing banks and will continue to issue co-branded products with them.”
Building Layers of Technology
Within its offerings, Niyo has integrated layers of digital innovations and tech-enabled features that further ease as well as enrich their user’s banking experience, says Bagri.
Right from on boarding a customer digitally, enabling all transactions and services within the apps, automated customer service through omni-channels, connecting to multiple bank partners and other business partners through APIs to offering co-branded products and service, Niyo does it all.
We are constantly adopting new technology innovations such as video KYC, AI powered voice enabled chatbots, AI based card controls for risk and fraud mitigation and live currency convertor and global ATM locator through APIs, to offer more convenience and world class user experience to our customers,” points Bagri.
Bengaluru-based Niyo has raised $49.3 million in funding so far, with the latest funding of $35 million in Series B round led by Horizons Ventures, Tencent and JS Capital LLC. They closed FY2019-20 with $10mn turnover.