We Are Eyeing Rs 60,000 Crore Transactions By Next Year: Mandar Agashe, Founder and Vice Chairman of Sarvatra Technologies
Founder and Vice Chairman of Sarvatra Technologies Mandar Agashe spoke to BW Businessworld on various achievements and future plans of the company.
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Sarvatra Technologies is mainly said to provide banking technology solutions for banks and financial institutions across rural India. It garnered 50 per cent of all UPI transactions when it started. It helps in facilitating banks in being part of the EFT system of functioning by providing them with PaaS (Platform as a Service) solutions, which enables UPI and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) transactions.
Sarvatra Technologies was founded in the year 2000 by Mandar Agashe as a financial technology company using the Fintech technology providing payment solutions to rural or cooperative banks. “Sarvatra in Sanskrit means anywhere – ubiquitous. We wanted to make payments available everywhere. Like ATM had Any Time Money, we wanted to have Anywhere Money”, says Agashe. The company is said to have issued over 1.5 crore Rupay Debit Cards across 27 states and 3 union territories in India and enjoy 54 per cent market share in RuPay NFS sub-membership.
In conversation with BW Businessworld, Mandar Agashe, Founder and Vice-Chairman of Sarvatra Technologies, gives a detailed account on the work done by the company since its inception.
What’s your inspiration behind starting the company and what’s the meaning of the name Sarvatra?
When we started the company, ATMs were there only in urban areas, not in semi-urban and rural areas. So we realized that there were many under-banked populations in India. When you go to a big city and you are a customer of a large bank, all the facilities – you’ll get a debit card, credit card, net banking, and mobile app. When you go to a small town, open an account in a small bank where the bank cannot give any facility. So our target was to bring modern technology to the small banks of India. Since Independence, only 53 banks were in debit card platform in RTGS though RBI has given license close to 2000 banks. Our goal was to give debit cards to the remaining of the banks. Then as we went and met the banks, we realized we did not have that much money to spend – though our customers want to have debit cards, we don’t have that much to spend. So, we said we’ll give platform as a service so you don’t have to buy anything, you just have to subscribe to us.
What are the major challenges faced over the years?
When we asked the banks to start a mobile app, they realized they did not have a mobile banking license. A separate mobile banking license from the RBI is required, then only they can launch a mobile app. So, basically, most of the people are unaware of what is required to be part of a payment system. That’s when the two Sponsor Banks came as partners. Because not just Sarvatra, a large role is played by the sponsor banks. HDFC and ICICI banks were the first ones to partner. So, when a small bank is to be part of the system, they need to be part of a large bank.
What are major performance highlights so far in the rural sector and what are your future plans?
We have crossed 500 banks in India. We have given cards to more than one crore customers. We have activated more than 2,500 ATMs in rural India. We have given modern technology like IIMPs to more than 100 banks in rural India. Customers of rural banks in the last financial year have done close to 40,000 crores of transactions. We have achieved that in less than 10 years. Next year I hope to touch 60,000 crores by activating more customers.
How do you differentiate yourself from the rest of the banks?
We had a first-mover advantage. We are the first one to invest in all these switches. Having worked with the ICICI Banks, we got the advantage to work with all the best third-party apps. When Google Pay, PayTm and other launched, they launched with us. Then the generation banks that came in like Payment Bank, Equitas Bank joined Sarvatra.
We have a strong startup culture in the National Capital Region (NCR). What advice would you give to people who want to start a business in the banking sector?
Basically, unlike any other space Fintech is the toughest space. First, you not only have to understand consumer but also have to understand the regulation. So no other sector is as regulated as Fintech. So anybody coming into this has to understand that they need to have a good mix of people who not only will build the banking knowledge, technology knowledge but also regulatory knowledge. We have a strong regulatory advisor who told us what is allowed and what is not allowed. Anybody want to get into Fintech, they should have a regulatory consultant.