Founded in 2018, Bengaluru-based fintech startup KreditBee is registered as Finnovation Tech Solutions Pvt Ltd. Founders Madhusudan Ekambaram, Karthikeyan Krishnaswamy and Vivek Veda started the company with the mission of democratising credit. However, its larger goal is financial inclusion for the underserved population, including self-employed and salaried professionals.
KreditBee offers loans in varying ticket sizes and repayment tenures. The startup’s digital platforms allow customers to avail loans directly from their smartphones without any paperwork or branch visits. The entire procedure– eligibility check to application disbursement and repayment, is digitised and is online. In addition, KreditBee takes note of alternate lending data points besides salary and bureau scores to disburse loans to individuals who are new to credit and are non-salaried (freelancers, part-time workers and self-employed).
Recently, Analytics India Magazine was in conversation with Co-founder and CTO Karthikeyan Krishnaswamy to understand the technology behind KreditBee. Karthikeyan has a Masters in Computer Science from the National University of Singapore. He started his career as the Technical Lead for Innova Systems, later working as the System Architect for Huawei Technologies. He is a three-time entrepreneur, and before KreditBee, Karthikeyan had co-founded NTT Solutions and KrazyBee. Unofficially, Karthikeyan began working on KreditBee, along with his co-founders, in March 2016.
Edited excerpts from the conversation:
AIM: What are your key roles and responsibilities as the CTO of KreditBee?
Karthikeyan K: The roles and responsibilities as a CTO at KreditBee have been continuously changing as the product went through the various stages of its life cycle. At the onset, it was in making sure we had the Minimum viable product (MVP) version launched. Currently, we have a much bigger team comprising almost 20 sub-teams. Therefore, the responsibilities have also changed. Right now, it is more about making sure that the team has the right contours, strikes a balance between design/technology and timelines to bring business value faster, launches new products and integrations, overlooking the overall governance and strategy, and improving performance.
AIM: Who are your target audience?
Karthikeyan K: KreditBee is a personal loan platform for young professionals. As an internet platform, we host multiple NBFCs that have a license from the RBI.
We aspire to help the new-to-credit population by becoming a one-stop solution for digital lending in the Indian ecosystem. These customers include the underserved young professionals and non-salaried gig workers, including part-timers, freelancers, and self-employed. We are also reaching out to near-prime and prime customers with full-stack digital lending solutions, which they are not getting from traditional banks and NBFCs.
With our meticulously designed offerings, we aim to become the first choice when it comes to quick and convenient personal loans. Along with the expediency of applying for a loan, we ensure that our customers build a strong credit history in this duration and become eligible to take bigger loans from the banks.
AIM: What are your products and services?
Karthikeyan K: We have different categories of loan products, each catering to a different target segment, as follows:
- Flexi Personal Loans – Small loans ranging from Rs 1,000 to Rs 10,000 with short repayment tenures (62 days to six months). One requires a PAN Card and address proof to benefit from a flexible loan option.
- Personal Loans for Salaried – Salary loans options from Rs 10,000 to Rs 2 lakh with tenure ranging from three to 15 months. Requirements include PAN Card, address proof, and salary proof.
- Online Purchase Loans – A buy-now-pay-later EMI option. In such loans, one avails e-vouchers from KreditBee, which can be used to purchase on partner platforms like Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra, Nykaa and MakeMyTrip.
- PPLSE (Premium Personal Loan for Self-employed) aims to assist self-employed individuals to meet all their business expenses. They can avail credit between Rs 4,000 to Rs 2 lakh in one go and repay it over flexible loan tenures.
One of our recent launches is the KreditBee Card, a virtual credit card that allows users to withdraw cash into their bank account or purchase anything online like a usual credit card. We also offer different value-added services:
- Loan-linked Insurance: An insurance product linked to the short-term loans offered on the KreditBee platform, with coverage beyond the loan repayment.
- Credit Score Report – A Free Experian report for all credit users of KreditBee.
AIM: Explain the tech stack.
Karthikeyan K: We have multiple tech stacks running within KreditBee. Externally visible is the customer-facing stack, where we use a jam stack with a serverless microservices twist.
We use React for the frontend and Go for a backend which is deployed on AWS Lambda. There are furthermore layers within the stack for security, authentication and permissions. We have multiple other stacks used internally by the data science, data engineering, and business intelligence teams. Primarily we try to use serverless or other managed services so that the core team can focus on bringing continuous business value.
AIM: What tools do you use at KreditBee?
Karthikeyan K: There is quite a diverse set of open-source, enterprise, and proprietary in-house tools used by the different teams.
We have proprietary tools to spin up and down the entire customer-facing stack for each developer across our development, stage, UAT environments, deployment across multiple lambdas, message queues creation and subscription. Open-source tools/specs like OpenAPI are used for API management, MySQL and Percona tools for databases and Redash for business intelligence. Enterprise tools like CloudWatch events for monitoring, Cloudflare for CDN, DNS security, and Firebase for auth and analytics.
AIM: How are you leveraging AI and ML technologies in the underwriting process?
Karthikeyan K: At KreditBee, we have a prominent section called Price Discovery where the customers are provided various options to provide more details about themselves. There is a gamification element in the form of rewards such as reduced fees, amongst others, for the information provided by the customer.
Once the customer starts interacting, the AI/ML technologies start kicking in to update the customer’s intents score. Then, further scores are updated based on the actual information provided by the customer. In total, all of the AI technologies/ML models are used to update around 15,000-plus variables for each customer.
AIM: How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Karthikeyan K: KreditBee’s business model built on its robust technology stack is its key differentiator. At KreditBee, we utilise a combination of technological expertise, a powerful underwriting model, and the digitised overall loan process across a range of specialised products. This allows us to effectively serve the varied financing needs of our customers, which also include the new-to-credit borrowers.
We are constantly upgrading the utility of AI, ML, and analytics, towards boosting its efficacy. Furthermore, the collection practices at KreditBee utilise an effective integration of robotics, automation, and other technological facets– moving away from traditional agent calls, which significantly scale up the customers’ reach and offer various collections measures. This leads to building a completely digital life cycle of the loan – from origination, application, disbursement and repayment being entirely online, which is our value proposition.
AIM: What does the road ahead look like for KreditBee?
Karthikeyan K: At present, KreditBee has a user base of more than 30 million with over five million credit customers. We shall focus on diversification and variety for the next few years– a holistic set of financial services tilted towards lending.
We have recently added KreditBee Card, KreditBee Pay (BNPL), Loan-Linked Micro-Insurance, and Credit Score report ideas to our portfolio. The idea is to consolidate and saturate the market with the existing lending portfolio with the idea of full-stack digital lending and look at secured lending options like two-wheeler loans.