India's nascent fintech sector has huge potential but requires a supportive regulatory environment and investment in human talent to flourish, a new report commissioned by Yes Bank suggests.
In a country with a large unbanked and rural population but also strong technology sector, fintech - in the guise of digital payments, alternative scoring methods, big data and forays into blockchain - has emerged as a potential tool for transforming the economy.
Based on a survey of hundreds of local and international fintech firms, the Yes Bank-commissioned India Fintech Opportunities Review, investigates the current landscape and how the industry sees its potential future.
Fintech in India is largely a nascent sector: there are more than 1200 firms operating in the country but most have only been in business for three years or less and the median number of employees is just 14. Almost all of the companies have been founded by entrepreneurs with STEM backgrounds and a majority of founders are under 40.
While the industry is still young, Indian fintech is not just about payments, with the survey showing that areas such as digital wealth management, lending and robotics process automation are gathering momentum.
The vast majority of survey respondents say that employees focused on technology development and coders are the core of their workforce. In a country with a strong STEM talent pool, human capital is seen as a strength. However, nearly three quarters of those quizzed feel there is a lack of "deep tech" expertise which could hinder growth.
To help the sector grow, 88% of startups say that they want a government-funded co-working and joint research zone, while 87% want a regulatory sandbox. Meanwhile 85% want a fintech registry to develop better sector understanding and accelerate proof-of-concept funding.
Supporting the sector is important, argues the review, because "fintech has the potential to answer India’s greatest challenges and opportunities - creating jobs, boosting GDP and using future technology to transform key sectors like agriculture, education and healthcare".
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