Playing By The Book Chapman looks at creating strong corporate governance protocolsfor better compliance

By Deepa Vaidya

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Lizzie Chapman, co-founder and CEO, ZestMoney

Lizzie Chapman, co-founder and CEO, ZestMoney offers a very unique solution to,the most underpenetrated credit market, the digital savvy and the fee-sensitivecustomers globally, namely, theIndian customers. Says Chapman, "We believe the types of products that are being offered are not designed for the Indian consumer. So, we built a product that integrates within the digital ecosystem with ecommerce/travel/ed-tech companies. They subsidise the cost to the consumer and it ends up being a cheaper form of consumer credit and also a much nicer, transparent and a customer-friendly model than the traditional like a credit card."

With multiple parties involved, it is only natural to have a very complex and a deep tech system at work. She elaborates, "So we have a massive component of our tech stack, where we integrate on the merchant checkout, we do real time payment approval settlement, exactly like a payment gateway. On the other side, we have to have this deep tech stack that basically acts like an NBFC or credit business. We also partner with about 15 other NBFCs and banks here and we deeply integrate into their tech stack, so that we become like this mega network that connects all of the digital ecosystems, the ecommerce, digital payments, all of the traditional finance ecosystem, the banks, the NBFCs, in the middle via API's, which we have built. We don't work with any third parties.So, we do have integration now, with things like an "account aggregator', which would be a big development in the way data is consumed by fintech companies."

Interestingly, the tech stack is also the USP of ZestMoney. "But more importantly, it is particularly the data and how we use it. It's really all aspects of how we use data and technology to improve the payment experience."

Data, the lifeblood of ZestMoney isvery passionately and closely guarded. On data privacy and data security Chapman says, "Even though the regulation is still evolving in India, we believe it will get a lot stricter, and that you cannot be selling customer data to third parties. We have always been very rigorous about believing in customer consent and customer controlling their own data."

They are also immensely respectful of the regulations for fintech ops in India. She asserts, "Financial services all over the world are, and should be heavily regulated,because you are dealing with people's money."

"We have learned thatbeing very compliant ends up being a competitive advantage in the long run. We believe in building thoughtfully, slowly and making sure that everything is regulatory-compliant.If you do anything that appears like you are going around that,it will actually shortcut your growth in the long run.Taking shortcuts doesn't work in financial services anywhere in the world, and especially in India".

Her life lessons on building a fintech are, "I think patience is about you again, especially in something like financial services where it takes time. I have also learned that anything of value takes consistent hardwork over time and the things that come easy are often not the most valuable."

On their expansion plans, she says, "Putting in place a lot more mid- to senior- leadership level from within and,to create really strong corporate governance and structures around internal compliance."

Says Chapman on their financial prowess, "We have positive unit economics, we are basically gross margin positive, which means we don't burn a lot of money. We will be profitable early next year. Werecently dida Series C fundraise, and westill have got plenty of that money. We do get a lot of inbound interest and BNPL in India has piqued the interest of global investors. So don't be surprised if we do raise a little bit more money before we become profitable."

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