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OpenTap - Providing Alternate Financial Services for the Middle to Low Income Group Demographic

In the beta phase from August 2015 – Dec 2016, OpenTap worked with 40 organizations across Chennai, Bangalore and Nashik.

OpenTap is a FinTech company providing alternate financial services by way of short term credit for the under banked population of India. It was founded by a trio of former investment bankers – Senthil Natarajan, Suresh Venkataramani & Harish Devarajan - who spent most of their service years in Wall Street, before venturing into tumultuous waters of entrepreneurship.

OpenTap gave out their first set of loans to employees of a manufacturing organization in Nasik. It was a calculated risk lending money to unknown people based on minimal documentation, a risk the founders nonetheless took. After a successful beta phase, they set up base in Chennai and sales offices in Bangalore and Nashik.

There were several anxious moments, most of them surrounding repayments and defaults. OpenTap had 74 repayment events that fell between Nov 1, 2015 and Dec 31, 2015, across 37 borrowers. By mid-January, repayments were done – there was not even a single instance of loss given default during this period! OpenTap is currently a self-funded company.

Birth of the idea and the Eureka moment

The idea was the culmination of a burning desire of the co-founders to bring structured financial services to the underserved population in India. After reading and hearing about many forms of usurious lending, the founders got together to see how they could solve the issue.

Senthil and Suresh were on their way to meet a potential customer organization. A medical emergency had cropped up for an employee of a manufacturing unit in Nashik. INR 20K was required overnight and the employee had exhausted all potential sources of borrowing money. A common contact reached out to OpenTap and immediate transfer was effected. The ensuing conversation they had with the customer, after his mother received treatment was the Eureka moment. That was the moment the founders knew that their decision to establish a peer-to-peer lending organization was the right one.

Building the core ideology

A common interest in cracking the credit access issue brought the founders together and helped them seed the OpenTap initiative. It was just the co-founders in the initial days, when they were running trials, understanding the market and requirements. Through the beta phase, they zeroed in on the segment, the product and workings of the financial transactions. Once the idea and need was established, the viability of business was worked out, they were ready to look at expanding the team and their presence.

OpenTap’s key differentiators!

OpenTap has identified a credit worthy population (10’s of millions) with stable jobs/steady income and needlessly denied basic credit and other financial services by financial institutions – this population is considered ‘risky’ in the lending parlance. Several new age organizations also shy away from lending / providing services to this target segment due to lack of digital awareness. For them, OpenTap has devised a methodology to analyze their credit worthiness and is introducing them to the world of alternate finance – starting off with personal loans. These are short-term loans to be completed within or before 12 months. OpenTap has established itself as a unique player bringing financial inclusion as a pathway to digital inclusion.

Performance, track record and future plans

In the beta phase from August 2015 – Dec 2016, OpenTap worked with 40 organizations across Chennai, Bangalore and Nashik. They helped 120 individuals from a registered population of over 8,000. Their total loan book size was 30 L+ till Dec 2016.

YTD, OpenTap has an active borrower base of over 1000 individuals and a loan book size of over INR 2.5 Crores; and a presence across Chennai, B’lore, Nashik, Pune and the greater Coimbatore region. They’re poised to grow exponentially in 2017 with a loan book target of 100+ crores across 40-50,000 individual loans and looking at a loan book size of 1B in 3-5 years.

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