US$9.5 million Financial Inclusion Lab announces first intake of fintech innovators to improve the financial health of underserved communities

Mumbai: The Financial Inclusion Lab today announced eleven fintech innovators who have been selected for its first intake to the Lab. The successful entrants will use technology-based strategies such as automation, underwriting and machine learning to help improve the financial health of lower- and middle-income (LMI) people, farmers and small entrepreneurs in India.

The Financial Inclusion Lab, a part of IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII), is a collaboration between BII, J.P. Morgan, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help scale early-stage fintech startups that address the unique needs of lower- and middle-income people. The US$9.5 million initiative will provide the start-ups with the necessary support, capital, strategic guidance, market access and mentorship to build and test their products in twelve months.

The Lab builds on insights from international financial inclusion consulting firm MicroSave, which found that more than 40% of the Indian population have not accessed financial services enabled by technology. The lack of awareness, availability and access to suitable products and non-intuitive user interfaces are some of the reasons why lower- and middle-income customers do not gravitate towards fintech solutions. These are the gaps that the first entrants into the Lab will address by building credit scores and facilitating access to appropriate savings, loans and insurance products for small businesses, farmers, and lower- and middle-income people.

To support its first entrants the Lab will draw insights and learnings from the work performed by the JPMorgan Chase-funded Financial Solutions Lab, managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation. In its fifth year, this initiative has supported 34 fintech companies to improve the financial wellbeing of underserved communities in the U.S.

Sanjay Jain, Chief Innovation Officer, CIIE said “Technology-based innovations offer tremendous opportunities to create solutions that enhance financial resilience of underserved communities. We look forward to working with these start-ups to de-risk their journeys towards sustainability and commercial viability”.

“Fintech presents a unique opportunity to promote the financial health of India’s underserved households who struggle to adopt digital platforms for their financial needs. J.P. Morgan remains committed to promoting the financial health of this segment and is incredibly proud to support and mentor this talented pool of entrepreneurs,” said Kalpana Morparia, CEO, South and South East Asia, J.P. Morgan.