We talked to Hemant Vishnoi about how EnKash is focused on serving business needs, and this is what he had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hemant Vishnoi: As a family, we are doing well, thank you. Apart from many bad things, one of the good things is that pandemic has brought families closer. I can now spend some extra time with family, which used to get wasted in transit. It’s been a great stress buster and helps quickly rejuvenate yourself. So, it may be the silver lining to the dark clouds.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EnKash?
Hemant Vishnoi: It’s been around two decades that I have been part of the cards & payments space. It’s been a great experience so far while working in startups as well as large corporations. Before co-founding EnKash, I led the business for CitrusPay, which was successfully acquired by PayU, a Nasper owned company. I have also worked in leading payments players like MoneyGram and First Data. And I was also part of the founding team of India’s first payment gateway by an Indian bank, ICICi Bank. Early days in the payments space were quite enjoyable, and I got opportunities to launch innovative B2C offerings. It’s good to see the B2C close payments space evolving from a few startups to many unicorns. Few airlines, which were startups, now have IPOs. On similar lines, product innovations also took place during the last 15 years.
However, the B2B payment space still seems to be struggling for innovations and changes in the B2C payments space in the last 10-15 years. The need-gap that my co-founders & I closely saw & identified in the B2B t space led to the formation of EnKash. We decided to create value for businesses through products that are innovative and help their financial & operational efficiencies. Overall, as a B2B platform, EnKash’s main aim is to simplify business finances. EnKash has been serving the financial ecosystem with industry-first products and features. EnKash leads the innovation bandwagon giving a technological and straightforward advanced solution to all business payment problems. Launched in 2018, EnKash has garnered trust & credibility among banks and businesses for its innovative financial offerings. More than 65,000+ businesses & FIs on the platform support credibility.
How does EnKash innovate?
Hemant Vishnoi: Businesses need innovative financial products that can build process & cost efficiencies. The way technology is evolving, innovative products & a fast-paced go-to-market would require to support or complement traditional banking systems to serve businesses. EnKash was born with a single aim to offer innovative financial solutions. EnKash believes in serving the business and financial ecosystem to the core. With Innovation in our DNA, we are creating industry-first products: EnKash has been the first to launch a commercial card acceptance platform for non-travel spending. Traditionally, commercial card spends were limited to T&E in the last so many years.
EnKash was the first to come up with D2I ™ (Direct to Issuer), enabling issuers to create their network, build flexible commercial card products & commercial engagement with businesses for issuers having non-acquiring solutions. EnKash launched India’s First Corporate Card for SMBs and Startups under the Freedom Card program. Traditionally, SMBs remained under-served by banks to have access to commercial cards for flexible short term credit requirements for their business expenses. EnKash launched a commercial card program with RuPay. Till now, NPCI has only retail credit & debit cards. RuPay will be using EnKash’s proprietary systems & software for its program.
EnKash has also delivered the first-of-its-kind WhatsApp based intuitive expense management solution to simplify and digitize expenses. We are investing in technology for the future. We believe that it will bring about the much-needed change in the ecosystem. For example, Our two core technology forces are Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). We are using it to give businesses the power to use insights to make future business decisions.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Hemant Vishnoi: When the pandemic hit the Indian economy starting in March 2020, every business started to hold onto any expense. Being in the business payments and cards business meant an initial hit on our volumes. However, the larger picture was visible only when the lockdown forced even traditional businesses to adopt digital routes to transact. Businesses used to the mundane and time-consuming way of transactions using much paperwork were forced to look into digital means. This has helped us work closely with businesses that started looking for automation and other solutions to digitize their flows & processes. This also brought forward newer use-cases, and we started working towards catering to those use cases too. For us, it was about converting crisis to opportunities.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Hemant Vishnoi: The pandemic saw a lot of companies laying off employees to sustain themselves. On the other hand, we felt that people are our biggest strength, and it is they who will help us sail through and come out winners. We made sure that the message was conveyed to them so that there is no iota of insecurity in anyone’s mind concerning their job security. And we believe we were right in our decision. With the spirit and motivation levels at their highest, it not only helped us sail through, but we also started working on newer, and more innovative features and products that we are sure will create value to the ecosystem.
The focus was to treat it as a golden opportunity to maximize value creation for the ecosystem at large. Lesson learned: “Whenever there is a challenge, there is also an opportunity to face it, to demonstrate and develop our will and determination.” – Dalai Lama.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Hemant Vishnoi: Let’s face it that we are witnessing a global pandemic, which is perhaps the biggest of our generation. Besides impacting our economy, it has greatly influenced our social, mental, and emotional health. I prefer to call it an influence than stress and anxiety in any given situation. Thus, when we start treating it as an influence, we also start thinking to minimize its influence on our mental & emotional health. For me, the first step towards dealing with any such influence is the acknowledgment of its existence. Once I know, I start taking charge of my emotions. It works well when I partially detach myself from activities/tasks/things that have caused this influence. Meditation is one that brings focus and help in this detachment.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hemant Vishnoi: At the core, EnKash is a B2B fintech catering to businesses. We have been working on smoothening the B2B payments processing to mitigate risks and creating a trusted financial ecosystem. We have an all-inclusive and comprehensive business payments platform, focusing on enhancing value on commercial card acceptance & issuance for core & non-core business expenses. There are a few companies that offer products similar to ours. Still, we pride ourselves in spearheading the financial ecosystem’s change with our innovative products and many first-of-its-kind industries. To name a few, we consider Bill.com, Brex, Avidxchange as some of our global competitors, and we see an adaptation of our “firsts” by many Indian startups.
As we move towards being one of the most innovative fintechs in the ecosystem, we plan to continue investing in people, processes, and technology. While technology is the enabler, people are the brains behind all the success. Processes become an essential bridge that optimizes the assets available and comes up with first-of-its-kind products in the market. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are two technologies where we spend considerable energies to keep presenting solutions ahead of the curve.
Your final thoughts?
Hemant Vishnoi: When you are part of a startup, it’s going to be a marathon with its ups and downs. This pandemic has become a universal down for the entire world, let alone the startup community. What we have learned is to stay strong and stay optimistic. It’s simply because what goes down also comes up. It is a test of our character and the fact that we have to come out of it much more robust. This is just a phase, and this too shall pass. Things are already better than they were when the lockdown began. So I am always positive (except for my covid test report) and looking forward to better things in life.
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