Administrator | March 6, 2015

Incubatee spotlight: Artoo

In this week's incubatee spotlight, co-founder Sameer Segal talks about Artoo and company's plans:

What does your company do?
Artoo is transforming banking for the poor using the power of mobile, cloud and data. Around 2.5 billion people across the globe have no access to basic financial services such as bank accounts, savings or credit. Banking services are not easily accessible to the poor because they live in remote geographies and do not have documents, collateral and regular cash flows. At Artoo, we build a financial customer relationship management (CRM) solution that drastically improves operational efficiencies of financial institutions making their services more affordable and accessible to the poor. Artoo reduces cost of operations, accurately evaluates borrower creditworthiness and helps financial institutions scale across geographies.

We offer a complete suite of modules that allows financial organisations to deploy a holistic end- to-end solution: Lead management, loan management (field credit bureau checks, KYC image capture, etc), collections and analytics. Our solution enables them to manage all their interactions with their customers on a single platform and derive key insights. For instance, our clients can easily assess creditworthiness and profitability of a small farmer looking for a cattle loan or a small business looking for working capital loan.

Field Agent using Artoo app

Why are you excited about this space?
About 65% of the population in India continues to remain unbanked or have poor access to banking services. We are very excited about the rapidly evolving financial inclusion space in India that is driven by the government through the Jan Dhan Yojana and RBI policies on small banks and payment banks. We are excited to see emerging fintech solutions such as mobile money, digital payments, and aadhaar E-KYC that will dramatically improve banking, financial and insurance sectors in India. We see a huge market opportunity to build innovative products for our clients that can make financial services for the unbanked – hassle-free, paperless and most importantly, personalised.

Artoo Team_updated

What is innovative about your product?
We have built a fin-tech solution that combines cutting-edge technology with empathy, which can adapt and undergo rapid customization to meet specific requirements of our customers. This makes us different compared to existing technology vendors that have built domain specific solutions that are prohibitively expensive or more generic technology solutions, which are rigid and don't allow for any customization. Artoo’s ‘human-centered’ design improves adoption by field agents enabling organizations to achieve good business results.

Traditional lending in this sector uses generic underwriting methods to offer credit to individuals and businesses, which do not understand the nuances of the borrower’s occupation. We’ve developed unique tools such as ‘occupation-specific’ tools that capture the nuances of their business like volatile cash flows to assess creditworthiness, and a ‘scenario analysis’ tool to predict the customer behavior in turbulent times. We have integrated this with real-time credit bureau checks for the individuals and businesses with undocumented income. This helps our clients become very effective in lending to their customers.

What is the impact you want to have?
We started out with a vision to improve quality of lives of poor borrowers by improving access to financial services through technology. We built a ‘high-tech’, ‘high touch’ solution that improves productivity, build competitive advantage, as well as create better visibility and customer engagement for our clients. We have managed to create digital revolution by developing slick, easy-to-use, intuitive interfaces for field agents, who are usually ‘first time’ technology users. This will enable our clients to provide tailored financial products and scale in remote geographies to serve poor borrowers more effectively. Today, we are creating significant impact in the financial inclusion space in India. Artoo disburses USD 3 million in loans every month through our clients and this is increasing by 20% each month.

Having acquired extensive knowledge in the financial services space, we are looking to build hardware solutions and create personalized financial products that will improve quality of life at the base of the pyramid.

How has Villgro helped?
We have received extensive incubation support and mentorship from the senior team. Villgro has played an instrumental role in helping us think through our new products and also supported us with grant funding to develop our hardware concept and new product lines. Through the years, they served as a sounding board on several topics ranging from business model, sales planning, managing client relationship and building a strong team. Our association with Villgro brought added credibility and effectiveness in helping us raise our next round of funding within 15 months.