(This article was originally published on BusinessWorld)
Everyone seems to be talking about digital finance these days. Whether it’s the Finance Minister highlighting digital finance during her first Budget speech or your kirana delivery boy asking if you’ll use Paytm to settle your bill, digital seems to be the latest money-related trend in India. But ask most people what digital finance is, and chances are they’ll begin and end with digital wallets. Is that all digital finance is truly about? Most average citizens certainly think so, because that’s what most of us see offered by startups, big banks, and even the government. But there’s so much more to digital finance than just a convenient payment tool/mechanism. For one, it could be the most important thing that’s happened to lending.
Digital lending is a relatively unknown aspect of digital finance, and an untapped space, estimated to be worth $1 trillion in the next five years per a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) report. Yes, that’s a huge opportunity, but so far, only a few fintech startups seem to be taking advantage of it.
How is digital lending different from conventional lending? At its most basic, it allows the entire lending process, from application to disbursement, to be done digitally. That means minimal paperwork, and savings of time and money for the same. Perhaps more important, it also calls for investments in technology and digital tools to replace slow old-school manual intervention.
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