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BW Businessworld

A Neo-Banking Sensation

At the end of a busy year for banking at the SME corner, Open Financial Technologies saw its customer base grow six times

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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With over six years of experience in senior leadership in executive and operational committees of fast-growing companies, Deena Jacob knows the importance of ambitious goals, changing the course of action of a company based on market dynamics and direct actions on critical decisions. The Co-Founder and CFO of Open Financial Technologies, has been at the helm of the company since November 2017. With her experience in developing large teams, she has built and established finance teams from scratch and has led teams across a broad range of functional areas like finance operations, purchase operations, HR and performance management systems, business strategy, financial planning and  analysis, treasury, tax, pricing, legal and compliance.

Rapid Growth Phase
Over the last 16 months amidst the pandemic, she has led a rapid growth phase at the neo-bank. Open Financial Technologies’ team grew three fold during this period and branched out into three more key divisions, to expand the company’s customer base six fold. Jacob’s role, she says, evolved rapidly from overseeing finance hygiene and early strategy design to that of guiding rapid growth and designing global strategies.

“One thing that kept us going amidst all the changing things around was the mission that we were onto; it was a tough time for the customer segment as well, however it was equally rewarding to see the impact we were able to bring in their lives and the adoption was viral,” recalls Jacob.Dubbed as Asia’s first neo-banking platform for MSMEs and startups, Open currently powers over a million SMEs across more than 85 per cent of the PIN codes in India. The company provides a digital platform that combines banking payments, accounting and compliance, with over 300 APIs. The company also powers some non-fintech giants to enable banking for their customers, with unique underwriting such as end-use analysis.
Partnering with other banks, Open offers small business owners an avenue to collect payments, auto-reconcile them, and make seamless pay-outs along with an additional push toward integrated payment gateways, automated accounting and expense management.

Her Inspiration
On winning the award for the Best CFO Startup, Jacob says, “It was a privilege to see the category carved out, because often the finance function of a growing and early-stage venture would look very different from that of stable evolved organizations. The chaos and uncertainty that accompanies the stage make it a function that sometimes should question a few of the conventional wisdom, yet keep the balance of financial prudence.”

Asked about her motivation and drive she says, “I draw inspiration from the impact of the mission and the people who join hands in passionately driving it towards success. The current mission of democratizing banking for businesses and the team that is tirelessly executing it is my source of strength.” She believes that neobanking platforms will be dominated by the digitization of SMEs, embedded finance and disruptive lending technologies that will change SME banking as we know it.


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magazine 30 Aug 2021 banking Deena Jacob CFO world