Banker-turned-entrepreneur wants India to shop online in installments

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Remember the mobile phone upgrade you’ve been putting off for the past several months in the hope prices will drop?

Or, how about that international holiday you’ve been eyeing, but have not yet come to realize?

Today, when people dream with their eyes wide open – and these days that could be in front of laptop and mobile screens – they’re getting used to waiting for mega sales events or similar gimmicks to make that dream purchase.

In India, a country with fewer credit cards than phone connections, a large number of people are automatically left with no alternatives to convert already discounted, yet hefty price tags to monthly finance schemes, popularly called easy money installments (EMIs).

People want to buy aspirational products.

Vikas Sekhri and his startup CashCare is trying to take care of exactly that.

In a humble office in a Mumbai suburb, the demure entrepreneur talks about his personal journey – as well as about his 15-month-old baby.

When he describes CashCare, his shyness is gone and he takes on the air of someone who knows his trade.

Vikas explains that he found out there was tremendous opportunity in the gap between the number of credit cards (around 22 million) and the number of debit cards (more than 600 million) in the country. “People want to buy aspirational products. That’s where we’re helping,” he adds.

Gimme some credit

With CashCare, shoppers can make their purchase through ecommerce partners and get the transactions converted into a three to 12-month easy financing scheme. CashCare charges customers an interest rate between zero and 24 per cent on the loans depending on an individual’s risk, Vikas says.

In other words, if you cannot afford to buy the latest iPhone because you don’t have a credit card, you could use CashCare to buy it from one of the ecommerce partners and pay over the next few months instead of paying for it upfront.

Photo credit: Vendhq

Photo credit: Vendhq.

Shoppers can use the credit service on sites like Fabfurnish, Shopclues, and MakeMyTrip.

The seeds for CashCare were sown when Vikas moved to the US to study, he tells Tech in Asia. While he worked with companies such as Bank of America, Vikas realized he wanted to do something of his own, but wasn’t sure whether he was cut out for entrepreneurship. All this despite having an entrepreneur father, he says. “Then I got lucky enough to get into Wharton, that became my golden ticket to say that this gives me the power to test out whatever I want.”

That’s when he and another friend started EkSMS, a hyperlocal restaurant recommendation service, which did well. However, with the realization that user experience on SMS was difficult to innovate, Vikas moved out of the company. “The good part was that gave me the first stepping stone to say that entrepreneurship will be something that’s awesome.”

This was followed by education in the ad tech world where he worked with ZipDial, which eventually got acquired by Twitter. The entrepreneur in him then decided to move ahead.

Data fuels the engines

“What I saw in my ZipDial days was that there’s tonnes and tonnes of data that is available in the ad-tech universe – what you read, where you surf, where do you buy, or not,” he says.

CashCare figures out a shopper’s credit rating based on data an applicant must submit, like online shopping history, payments, and sometimes even social data.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.

The company then uses all the data and creates credit profiles of people. And while they’re at the payment page of any of the partner websites, they get a calculated EMI option to see the interest rate, installments, and the final amount option which they can then avail.

Vikas says that the consumer’s experience should be as easy as swiping a card or making a net banking transaction. “We ask less questions, but we get access to data that gives us better answers, and hence we’re able to serve them much faster than a bank, or anybody else would do.”

CashCare figures out a shopper’s credit rating based on data an applicant must submit.

The startup makes money both from the retailers as well as from its credit partners. The retailers pay because CashCare acts as a payment solution, while for the credit companies the startup brings in more consumers, resulting in payment as lead generation.

The company raised an initial round of angel funding last year, and is hoping to raise some more capital in the next two to three months.

Vikas claims he is confident because his business has proved three important points. He sees demand from customers, says retailers are benefiting from it, and from a credit perspective someone who would not have got credit at the point of sale will now be able to get it – thus fueling more transactions.

The company is also doing a pilot with offline stores, and has partnered with MakeMyTrip at its offline stores. Vikas intends to continue the R&D for another nine months and then launch in December.

For Vikas, the cool part about being online is that it pushes CashCare to be more real time, faster.

“Online, the consumer has 10 browsers open. He is already at 10 retail stores at the same time. So he is not a captive audience,” he says adding that a five-minute delay could mean he has moved to another website, or 30 minutes later, they’ve already bought the product.

“It pushes us to create the perfect product.”

First appeared at Dealstreetasia