For most people in India, having to engage with banks does not inspire a feeling of joy. Banks in the South Asian market are notorious for making unannounced spam calls to sell loans and credit cards to customers, even when they have been explicitly told not to.
Plus, when a customer contacts a bank with a query, it can take forever to get the job done. Take ICICI Bank, the third largest bank in India and until recently my only banking partner for over six years, for example.
It’s now in his third month to figure out who exactly in his relationship with Amazon is supposed to reissue a credit card to me. I have moved on in my life, and it seems they did too, probably before I even considered my request.
Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t big fans of banks either. If you operate a startup in the early stages, anyone can guess if you will ever be able to convince a bank to issue you with a business account. So of course, the startups – Razorpay and Open – took it upon themselves to fix this experience.
For consumers too, in recent years, dozens of startups have come to the fore to improve this banking experience. Whether you’re a teenager, just graduated from college, working like a professional, or don’t have a credit score, there are companies that can get you a credit card and a loan.
But even these services have some cap limit of some sort. And customers aren’t loyal to any startup.
“A client’s relationship is always with the entity where he places his savings deposit,” said Jitendra Gupta, a high level entrepreneur who has spent a decade in the world of fintech. Since these clients don’t put their money into fintech, âthe startups couldn’t disrupt the bank. This is the harsh reality.
So what is the alternative? Gupta, who co-founded CitrusPay (sold to Naspers’ PayU) and was Managing Director of PayU, has been pondering these challenges for over two years.
âIf you really want to change the banking industry, you can’t operate on the side. You have to fight from the center, where they deposit their money. It’s a very long process and requires a lot of upfront capital and experience with banks, âhe told TechCrunch in an interview.
After more than a year and a half of raising around $ 24 million – from Sequoia Capital India, 3one4 Capital, Amrish rau, Kunal Shah, Bahl Kunal, Tanglin Venture Partners, Rainmatter and others – Gupta is ready to launch what it says will solve many of the problems individuals face with their banks.
His new startup, called Jupiter, wants to bring “delight” to the banking experience, and it will launch in India on Thursday.
âWe believe that a bank account should be a smart account, where it gives you insight, shares personalized advice and guides you towards achieving financial discipline,â he said.
True, Jupiter will also offer loans and other financial services to its clients. But instead of making irrelevant calls to customers, it will assess which of its customers are short of cash and offer the option to take a line of credit from its app itself, he said. âUpselling doesn’t have to happen through spam. It has to go through contextualization and personalization.
âJupiter has been built into a deep integration with the underlying banking, allowing the consumer to have a frictionless experience for all of their banking needs,â said Amrish Rau, Managing Director of Pine Labs, co-founder of CitrusPay and longtime friend of Gupta.
The startup, which employs 115 people, has developed a number of products for customers who join from day one. Products include the ability to buy now and pay later on UPI, a feature first brought to the market by Jupiter, and a mutual fund portfolio analyzer. A debit card, an in-app chat with a customer service agent, categorization of expenses, finding the right card, determining existing health insurance coverage, etc. are ready to ship, the startup said.
Jupiter is currently working on providing zero margin on foreign exchange transactions and frictionless two-factor authentication. The startup has posted a public Trello page where it described what features it is working on and when it plans to ship them, as well as the features suggested by its beta customers. âI want to establish full transparency on what we are working on to build trust with customers,â Gupta said.
Jupiter will have its own customer relations team that will engage with the users of the startup. The startup, which last month opened a waiting list for customer registration, had accumulated more than 25,000 applications two weeks ago.
Even Jupiter, who wants to one day disrupt the banking industry, is currently having to partner with banks. Its partners are Federal Bank and Axis Bank.
I asked Gupta about the enthusiasm his investors see in Jupiter. âEveryone thinks, as you see with fintech giants like Nubank around the world, that we will become a full-fledged bank,â he said.
But for now, Gupta said he’s not looking to partner with more banks. âI don’t want Jupiter to attract clients because they want to do business with Federal or Axis. I want them to come to Jupiter because they want to do business with Jupiter, âhe said.
Over the next 12 months, the startup hopes to serve over a million customers.