Harsh Pokharna, CEO & Co-founder of OkCredit
In today’s adapted state of equilibrium, technology has proved to be a key enabler to deliver exceptional business outcomes and help enterprises respond to challenges with agility and resilience. While large established corporations focus on cutting-edge technologies to augment their processes and build new workplace models, micro-entrepreneurs and merchants, especially the mom-and-pop stores, struggle with their own unique challenges, such as managing staff, scaling customer base, and keeping a record of their payments.
OKCredit, a book-keeping app, aims to help merchants and small businesses record their transactions digitally for every customer and keep a trail of the money owed to them. Founded in 2017, the app boasts over 6 million active users and proliferating. In a recent interaction with CIO&Leader, OKCredit CEO and co-Founder Harsh Pokharna revealed how by leveraging technology, his enterprises are anchoring innovations in the digital book-keeping space and helping small businesses keep track of their payments and receivables seamlessly. Excerpts.
How are you harnessing technology to transform your business operations?
We noticed that merchants were not selling on credit due to payment uncertainty during the lockdown, as they do regularly. Hence, there was a decline in the business. We saw a significant decrease in our digital book-keeping platform activity, leading to the decline in active user base by nearly 50% in the 1st phase of lockdown.
However, In the unlock phase of Covid-19, we focussed on getting our users back through re-engagement campaigns. Our efforts to bring the business back on track yielded fruitful results as there has been a gradual increase in activity on our platform. Migration has played an essential role in adopting digital solutions by small merchants. With people moving from tier 1 to tier 2 & 3 cities, we have seen notable growth in digital book-keeping solutions in semi-urban areas. Our user retention and revival post-Covid has been remarkable and completely organic. We have surpassed our pre-Covid level growth, thanks to several tech-driven initiatives that we took.
Like many of our digital peers, our main asset is data. A massive amount of data (~3M activity data points per day) is generated on our platforms, such as who does business with whom and the activities encompassing sale on credit, payment, and reminders, among others. We have been leveraging machine learning tools on this data to achieve further growth in our user base, allocate cashback, avert payment frauds, understand our users’ requirements better, inform product decisions, and create data-powered features for the users.
What are emerging technology trends reinventing finance and the digital book-keeping space?
In a post-Covid world, digital banking or neo-banking will gain prominence. BaaS (Banking as a service), wherein we are seeing unbundling of banking infrastructure, APIs specifically for use by fintech will also be popular. Digital lending and, within that, deferred payment financing will be a massive driver of growth for fintech. In addition to all of these, companies will continue to adopt cloud and big data analytics for agility, business resilience and usher in a stronger future.
How is your platform solving retail SMB’s credit collection woes?
Millions of merchants using OkCredit can collect dues from customers and pay their suppliers using their OkCredit digital ledger. Customers can pay via a personalized QR code or a payment link sent to them, with multiple payment options, including UPI, net banking, Debit card, credit card, etc. OkCredit’s payment solution is also the first of its kind auto-ledgering solution that reconciles ledgers as soon as payments are made. This means that accounts are automatically adjusted once payments are made without the need for the merchant to correct them manually.
According to our internal survey with merchants, more than 75% suffer losses from delayed payments and overdue balances. 1,00,000+ businesses across India have paid or received INR 500+ Cr since the launch of OkCredit Payments. One of our active users in Pune, a medical store owner, now has more than 60% collections coming through our platform.
What is your technology roadmap for the future?
Going ahead, we will continue to solve business challenges faced by the vast community of retail SMBs in India. Innovations in vernacular and voice will play a key role in penetrating deeper into this market. While book-keeping has been a great entry point for us, we see this evolving into a network of fintech by connecting retailers, their suppliers, and customers on a single platform.