India’s IoT market size is nothing to sneeze at. Connecting affordable devices to bring more people to the digital platform and providing them with the best digital services drives a significant impact, especially for underserved communities. Agriculture, healthcare, education, and financial services sectors can hugely benefit from data-driven insights.
To help India’s SMB sector by building utility solutions, Bangalore-based fintech startup, Khatabook, is setting a new benchmark by assisting businesses to record the credit they extend to customers digitally. For this week’s startup column, Analytics India Magazine spoke to Gaurav Lahoti, VP Engineering, at Khatabook, to understand how the startup is leveraging AI and machine learning to offer online digital transaction services.
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Founded in 2018 by Ashish Sonone, Jaideep Poonia, Ravish Naresh, Vaibhav Kalpe and Dhanesh Kumar, Khatabook enables micro, small, and medium businesses to track transactions safely and securely. The company also offers online payment collection through UPI and QR, sends periodic reminders to creditors via messages, and generates reports.
Khatabook is essentially a digital ledger app with advanced features such as digital payments, automated reminders to customers for credit collections, etc. The app is cut out for India’s MSME (Micro, Small, and Medium-Sized Enterprise) sector, including Kiranas, medical shops, tuition centres, gyms, distributors, wholesalers, etc. The product and tech innovations on the platform are in alignment with the digital behavior of Bharat – people who are new to the digital platform, use low-end devices and are not from tier-1 cities.
Currently, the app has more than 9 Million active monthly users. The app has contributed immensely to save time for MSMEs by digitising physical workflows and improving the cash flow through automated credit reminder features.
Lahoti said, during the lockdown, the company has launched many product initiatives to keep the users engaged. The team at Khatabook had been focused on financial engineering with faster digital adoption. The initiative helped shopkeepers inform customers about their shop’s status, such as timings of operations during the lockdown, safety rules to follow, etc.
How Is It Different From Other Products In The Market?
“The app is available in 13 languages to ensure maximum digital adoption in all the districts of India. I would say simplicity, language inclusion, and scalable tech platform are our major differentiation,” Lahoti said.
Use of AI & ML @ Khatabook
According to Lahoti, the company continuously uses ML models for problem-solving. The machine learning techniques incorporated in the financial risk engines help the company with user legitimacy and prevent fraud. AI and machine learning techniques have also been used for other activities, including customer outreach and after-sales.
Core Tech Stack
Khatabook relies heavily on cutting edge open-source technologies. The applications are built on Kotlin (Android), Swift (iOS), and React + Redux with Typescript (Web PWA). On the backend, the core services use Typescript, Node.js, and Postgres.
Lahoti said, “Data is the lifeline of Khatabook teams. Our marketing, product, and operations team rely heavily on data to drive insights and future growth. As our requirements grew, we decoupled compute and storage to support parallel compute capabilities on the same data.”
He added, “In the last few months, we have focused a lot on developer experience and productivity too. We are strengthening our CI/CD & test automation abilities. We are focusing a lot on self-serve tooling and services to decouple dependencies for better developer ownership.”
According to Lahoti, the company has been hiring across all functions and at all levels, even during the lockdown. He said, “Besides being good at technical skills, our engineers have an excellent customer focus. We believe that every engineer should understand their work’s impact and how end-users will benefit from it.” He added, “As Khatabook is always building and experimenting with innovative products and features, the ability to collaborate with the product, design seamlessly, and tech team is a prerequisite.”
“Khatabook has a user base across more than 95% of districts in India. As a tech leader at the company, I plan to scale the team and technology stack to achieve maximum digital adoption and help deliver user-focused solutions,” said Lahoti.