Deep Dive: Fintech Player Zeta Uses Real-Time Analytics And Machine Learning To Lead The Digital Payments Space

The fintech industry in India over the past couple of years is towering over other sectors and has given the much-needed momentum to AI/ML space. Today, fintech has emerged as the second-largest player in the fintech space. Given the way fintech companies are innovating, there’s no doubt that every aspect of banking is going to expand by the proportion of consumers that they mean to cater. As a whole, the industry is already witnessing an upward graph with a digitally-savvy population backed up by continued efforts by the government and startup ecosystem.  

Founded in 2015 by Bhavin Turakhia and Ramki Gaddipati, Zeta is playing a major role in the transformation journey. To know more about the industry and Zeta’s role, we got in touch with Ramki Gaddipati, Co-Founder and CTO at Zeta.

Transformation From The First Year Until Now

In February 2016, the company launched its first product Digital Meal Vouchers for employees and eventually, it kept on adding multiple benefits such as fuel and vehicle maintenance, telecom reimbursement, gadget allowance and more on the platform.

In 2017, Zeta Express was launched which is a smartphone-based meal ordering and payment solution that has revolutionized the corporate cafeteria space. That is not all, in the same year, the company launched the first e-meal voucher on RuPay platform and tied up with two Indian leading banks — IDFC First Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank. 

On the funding end, Zeta raised its first external funding from Sodexo BRS in 2019 and now the company is valued at $300 million. Furthermore, as a part of the same deal, the company has merged our employee benefits business with Sodexo SVC.

Today, the company has 14,000 plus companies and 2 million users on its platform. “We are on a mission to make digital payments easy, inclusive, and valuable. It has been an incredible journey since 2015, and we make sure that even today our success graph goes upwards,” said Gaddipati.

The Tech Behind Zeta

Being a company that is solely focused on digital payments, Zeta is concerned a lot on the security aspect with some of the most stringent security standards ever built.

There was a time when companies were processing bills manually which was a time-and-labour-intensive process. But Zeta has a different approach towards it. “We have put in place technologies that can detect tampering and duplicates by extracting various features of images submitted by employees,”  Gaddipati explained. “This helps our backend operators to discard invalid bills in an instant and notify users accordingly.” Also, Bills are thoroughly vetted before approvals are made and this prevents discrepancies and also discourages misconduct of any sort.  

Talking about the technologies, Zeta uses AWS and for compliance reasons and it has its own data centre as well. The company uses microservices architecture, which is built on top of the microservices framework, providing with linear scalability. In terms of other specific technologies, Zeta uses Java, Node.js, Postgres, Cassandra, ElasticSearch and Redis.

The Role Of Machine Learning

Zeta is one of such companies that makes the best use of analytics and machine learning.  Real-time analytics not only helps the company manage their inventory better but also helps them find what employees are spending on, predict demand in the cafeteria by modelling their historic purchases, eliminate food wastage and raise a better ROI.

“We have expanded our automated cafeteria portfolio to offer advanced deep analytics – Express Insights,” said Gaddipati. The Insights feature is a first-of-its-kind solution in the automated cafeteria industry that will offer vendors detailed analysis to enable better food management and enhance overall cafeteria experience.

In terms of machine learning, the company uses ML to ease the reimbursement claims process to just clicking a photo and uploading it. Advanced algorithms and image processing software in the biller system help extract key vendor details such as bill amount, vendor name, transaction date and GSTN from the bills. Moreover, there is a rule engine that analyses the data to make sure the spendings are within corporate guidelines. And based on the reviews, messages are triggered to be sent to the involved stakeholders to take the claims approval process further. Once the claims approval process receives the nod, the reimbursement is settled in the user’s card. “It’s like clockwork powered by the latest technology,” Gaddipati added.

Zeta’s Hiring Process

Talking about the hiring aspect, Gaddipati said that the company strongly believes in hiring more problem solvers. Therefore, the company emphasizes a lot on problem-solving.  

The second most important for the Zeta team is the attitude s/he brings to work. A candidate is expected to be able to demonstrate strong ownership, great work ethics, and should have the penchant to go that extra mile. “If any individual has these qualities, then s/he is the best fit for us,” said Gaddipati.

While most companies tend to have a formal training model for new joinees, Zeta, on the other hand, takes a different approach which is called “Beta at Zeta”. This approach is divided into three phases spans across the first 30 days of the individual’s journey with the company.

The three phases of the program, that the individual is familiarized with are: about the organisation, about the function, and about the craft. They are further expected to take learnings from each phase and implement them as needed during their stint with Zeta. 

The Roadmap Ahead

Looking ahead, Gaddipati said that the company will continue investing in furthering its technology to make it a dominant player. “We also have a couple of launches coming up outside of India, out of which the US is our current focus,” said Gaddipati.

Zeta will also continue to focus on analytics, as that remains its strong point. It is planning to analyze behavioural data to reveal patterns, trends and any correlations and subsequently improve customer offerings. 

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