Exclusive Interview With Manavjeet Singh, Founder & CEO of Rubique

The LTP team had the opportunity of interviewing Mr. Manavjeet Singh, the Founder and CEO of Rubique, which aims to become the largest marketplace for financial products for individuals and SMEs.

Rubique demystifies complex financing processes and empowers individuals and SMEs by providing easy and smooth access to financing through a wide range of credit cards and loan products, thereby making finance simple for them.

Here are the excerpts of our interview with Mr. Manavjeet Singh.

LTP: Manav, thanks for speaking to us. To introduce you to our readers at LTP, please tell us about yourself and Rubique.

Manavjeet Singh: I have been part of Indian Banking System more than 25 years and worked with the some of the best banks like Citi, HDFC, Reliance Capital and YES Bank. My journey started from a small town but fortunately, I found my way up with reasonable success.

I started Rubique in October 2014; the aim was to become largest online marketplace for financial products

Rubique is an online marketplace for financial products offering a wide range of loan products and end-to-end loan fulfillment to individuals and MSMEs. The technology-led lending solution by Rubique is unique in terms of its matchmaking algorithm and direct integration with financial institutions’ lending systems.

With this technology solution, the model is focused on disbursement rather than mere lead generation allowing the customer to get the best deal in the quickest possible time while lowering the cost of customer acquisition for the financial institution.

LTP: You have more than 25 years of experience in the field of banking and financial services; what spurred you to create Rubique? What were your thoughts and apprehensions when you first envisioned Rubique?

MS: My experience in banking allowed me to see the consumer and the lender interaction from very close quarters from different vantage points – from retail lending to MSMEs. I saw realized that there was a huge gap between banks’ requirements and customer needs, and the challenges faced by banks and the pain that customer goes through. In a nutshell, the current marketplace for financial products is highly inefficient, time-consuming and full of uncertainty for both banks and customers. As a banker, I always believe that blending technology with financial service domain expertise can rewrite rules and eradicate these inefficiencies. And that’s how the journey for Rubique started.

LTP: Can you explain to our readers how Rubique works and how it is empowering individuals and SMEs by providing easy and smooth access to finance?

MS: India is a huge market with diversity. Hence, while imparting any technology solution in this market, one needs to take into consideration existing market forces for effective implementation.

First-generation internet loan portals are assuming that all consumers have direct access, trust, and willingness to transaction online. This has proven to be a very expensive mistake. While mobile phones and the India stack are changing financial services in India, the end-consumer is still very comfortable with accessing credit via influencers. These are chartered accountants, financial advisors, and others who are a trusted party in the local ecosystem.

Rubique has taken a holistic approach to building a tech platform that digitizes the supply chain across all three parties – the influencers, the customers and the financial institutions. So rather than displacing anyone in existing ecosystem, we connect all stakeholders on our technology platform which empowers them. And that has led to higher adoption among them.

LTP: How does Rubique differentiate among the incumbents in the market? What is the one core proposition that makes you consumer-centric?

MS: Considering customer pain areas like ambiguity about the process, lack of information, higher turnaround time and uncertainty in it, we have taken strategic decisions to maintain below propositions:

  1. Neutral platform: We aggregate financial institutions offers but don’t peddle the product. The choice to choose financial institution remains with the customer.
  2. Predictability: Through our proprietary matchmaking algorithm, a customer gets to know offers he/she is eligible for and able to connect with the right financial institution. At the same time, the financial institution also gets an apt profile as per their risk appetite thus reducing the cost of acquisition for them.
  3. Paperless layer: Through direct integration with bank's systems, eKYC and online credit bureau check, we have been able to introduce paperless layer in the entire transaction which makes the process simple, online and reduces the processing time by almost half compared to a traditional process.
  4. End-to-end fulfillment: Unlike traditional web aggregators who are lead selling model, we have focused on end-to-end fulfillment where we handhold the customer till the end of the transaction and provide the documentation support too.
  5. Retail + SMEs Focus: Also, we are the only online platform serving both these consumer segments and have a wide range of loan products servicing them.

While we have developed these propositions, it was essential to reach out to masses. Here we decided to leverage the existing ecosystem of influencers. In India, influencers play a very important role in the decision-making process. We have developed a mobile app with all our platform capabilities for these influencers where they can earn by referring and processing customer applications. We pay commissions to them on the basis of their involvement in a customer's loan process journey and successful disbursement. This approach has helped us to reach maximum customer base and lead to more qualified lead with a high ratio of conversion, ensuring easy access to finance to the customer.

LTP: Please enlighten us about the traction that you have received the last year. What can we expect from Rubique this year? What’s the next milestone for Rubique?

MS: Since our inception, we have disbursed over USD $200 billion of loans and set up 35,000+ credit cards through our platform by processing over 1,00,000+ applications and generated ~$3.5 million revenue more than our Series A funding.

We have witnessed 4X growth in terms of business volume over last financial year with the same headcount of employees. And this was purely because of technology, as there are more team members in technology team and we have made around 117+ credit policies digitized, which has made our matchmaking algorithm more robust improving our approval ratio.

We have tie-ups with 68+ financial institutions and we have a presence across 27 cities. As a next milestone, we would like to increase our financial institutions tie-ups to offer a wider range of products to our customers as well as increase the geographical presence.

LTP: We understand that you have recently launched TAB solution to make financing simple for MSMEs. Could you please tell us more about it?

We all know, the SME sector is the backbone of Indian economy. Though there is lucrative growth, there is still funding gap which is estimated to be around $380 billion which makes it a potential segment to focus on. When it comes to SME finance, the risk appetite of each financial institution varies. This makes it difficult for SMEs to get the finance. Also, many a time, a customer does not even know how to present their documents to FIs. The subjectivity assessment makes it difficult for SMEs to get the finance and therefore, in the SME lending space, the rejection rates are quite high.

In view of the intricacies required in processing SME finance as well as the lengthy forms to be filled up, we have created the TAB (Tech Assisted Tablet) solution. The product portfolio offered by this solution covers low to high-risk capital requirement through broad-level product categories.

Rubique is a first-ever FinTech platform which focuses on the crucial segment of SMEs (small & medium enterprises) to facilitate the right match of finance. The platform incorporates the 'Rubique Advantage' feature which brings advanced technology propositions like eligibility check through matchmaking algorithm, quick decisioning on the application, real-time credit bureau check, and real-time status tracking by integrating with financial institutions’ systems. Additionally, the solution also includes advanced technology features like IRIS scan for Aadhaar authentication and generation of credit assessment memo (CAM) along with deviations enabling the credit underwriter to take quick decisions and further reduce the processing time. These technology interventions in our platform scrutinize hundreds of data points to assess the creditworthiness of SMEs and provide quick decisioning removing the manual efforts in the loan processing system and ensure easy to access finance to SMEs.

LTP: We have recently witnessed a lot of financial institutions (FIs) who are in active collaboration with FinTech startups. What do you think are the critical success parameters to make a successful FI-FinTech partnership? How is Rubique leveraging this partnership?

MS: Since our inception, we have focused on a collaborative approach to make the solution effective and in the diverse market of India, it’s essential to work together with financial institutions. We believe that for every borrower, there is lender willing to lend. However, the customer today has no sure-shot way of finding that bank, which led to market inefficiencies of high rejection rates. Our aim is to bring borrowers and lenders on a single platform where they can discover each other. Hence, we would like to tie-up with as many financial institutions as possible to integrate with our platform.

The critical success parameter for such partnership for us is going to be the strategic alignment in terms of technology focus as we aspire to rewrite the rules of traditional process and make it more simplified, efficient with technology interventions.

LTP: What's the most important change coming to your segment in the next 3-5 years and how is Rubique planning to tackle those changes?

MS: India is a huge market and has tremendous potential and with initiatives like India stack, Jan Dhan Yojana with around ~ 286 mn accounts, smartphone penetration with 450 million phones with 60% internet penetration – the industry is turning to digitization and work towards deployment of cashless and paperless technology. Such initiatives are leading to exponential growth of market near to 5X.

Today, though a customer is risk-averse for online transactions, the scenario will change soon in the next 3-5 years. We foresee that our proposition of online in-principle approval (not done by any of the market players as yet) will be adopted and customers will move towards paperless transaction with regard to loans as well.