While some companies have already applied for the licence from the Reserve Bank of India, some are in the queue.
Bengaluru-based Shubh Loans has started the process to apply for an NBFC licence. The platform, founded by former banker Monish Anand and Goldman Sachs executive Rahul Sekar, is targeting the financially underserved segment.
“I want to expand into the unorganised sector. Traditional lenders mostly do not lend to these categories. It makes sense for me to get my own licence and get on a co-lending type of model and expand operations,” Anand said.
Shubh Loans has reached a monthly disbursal rate of ₹15 crore and is doing around 5,000 loans per month in partnership with nine lenders.
Another tech startup, Moneytap, is also planning its own lending licence. “We are exploring all three options — getting our own NBFC licence, partnering with someone who has recently received the licence and working with an established one,” said CEO Bala Parthasarathy.
Moneytap had begun by offering a credit line to consumers in partnership with private sector lender RBL Bank.
Industry insiders ET spoke to said there are many reasons which could be driving entrepreneurs to the NBFC route. The liquidity crunch in the sector was a wakeup call for many tech platforms, they said.
“With multiple lenders having switched off their lending taps, gone slow or increased rates after the liquidity crisis in the market, entrepreneurs realised that being at their mercy is not always the best thing,” said a founder of a fintech startup who did not wish to be named.
Another problem was the issue around Aadhaar-based verification, which caused the digital lending industry to stutter. “We could not bring in our own innovation in that case, we had to run by compliance teams of the lenders who would mostly shoot down innovative ideas because of the regulatory constraints,” said another top executive at a fintech startup.
These companies are in the trade for 3-4 years and have seen the strength of their underwriting capabilities. Few have also got a taste of the delinquency behaviour of the Indian consumer, which makes it an ideal time for few to dabble in the lending business. “A licence brings down your borrowing cost, increases margins and leaves more elbow room to operate,” said one of the sources quoted above. “But a licence does come with a lot of regulatory overhang.
That is the flip side.”