Datacultr is a UAE-based start-up that specializes in Digital Debt Collections and Risk Management. It offers a global credit recovery operating system designed for high-risk lending, which drives collection efficiencies and reduces delinquencies and non-performing loans. Datacultr’s innovative technology allows lenders, such as banks, non-banking financial institutions, micro-financing institutions, fintechs, and telecom operators, to offer unsecured loans at a lower risk to unbanked and under-served populations. Launched in 2020 by Neel Juriasingani and Sujoy Ghosh in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Datacultr has already secured $1Mn in seed funding led by London-based Sturgeon Capital, along with Seedstars International LLC, NP Consulting LLC & Startupbootcamp Fintech. With its advanced technology and comprehensive approach to risk management, Datacultr is rapidly becoming a game-changer in the lending industry. Below is a snippet from a recent email interaction between FYI9 and Neel Juriasingani, CEO and Co-founder of Datacultr.
Prateek: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the establishment of Datacultr and how the company is making a difference in the lending industry?
Neel Juriasingani: Across the globe, and particularly in emerging economies, a vast number of unbanked and underserved individuals lack access to traditional credit, from banks, to pursue livelihood-enhancing avenues due to insufficient data for assessing their creditworthiness. Datacultr recognized that people living in emerging markets could benefit from owning a smartphone by opening up more opportunities for a better livelihood, yet the cost of a phone–Rs. 8000-10000 –was prohibitively expensive for those earning less than Rs 250 per day. So we worked towards enabling these customers to have access to affordable payment plans and empowering them to improve their lives as new opportunities become possible. This not only enabled financial institutions to offer loans to purchase a new smartphone but also allowed them to generate their own primary data for these unbanked people to build a credit profile in order to offer more loans to these hitherto neglected segments.
Our platform already empowers lenders in Southeast Asia, LATAM, and Africa to rapidly accelerate their product offerings into the smartphone lending space. We have established relationships with some of the largest Banks and NBFCs in India and collaborate with Telcos and Fintechs across the globe.
Prateek: Can you discuss some of the key challenges that Datacultr has faced in developing its digital debt collections and risk management platform, and how the company has overcome these challenges?
Neel Juriasingani: The biggest challenge for us while developing the Datacultr platform, that definitively drives efficiencies in debt collections, was to drive a digital mindset amongst top lenders across markets. While mobile Apps have become hygiene for lenders to offer to their customers, debt collections continues to be traditional. Over centuries, top lenders have built great efficiencies in their traditional ‘call and collect’ processes, these highly optimized work-flows, however, start to prove expensive and inefficient whence you start deploying them for much smaller ticket loans offered to people that are both low on financial literacy and difficult to communicate with. A large lender can potentially hire thousands more on their collections teams, the underserved however need to be looked at with a different lens, one that focuses on driving efficiencies at much lower costs, one that is driven digitally.
Prateek: What future trends do you see emerging in the lending industry, and how ready Datacultr is to play a vital role?
Neel Juriasingani: Trends that we see changing the lending landscape:
- Digital is not just Apps: Rapid adoption of technology across functions-
– Highly digitized workflows, to drive efficiencies while driving down costs
– Automation- these digitized workflows should be able to seamlessly communicate, to make that fancy App work
- Generate that Primary Data– A head of consumer finance, of a large bank, recently in a discussion mentioned-‘if we had data for a customer, we would’ve already offered a loan’. The need of the hour is to generate your own ‘primary data’, progressive lenders across the emerging world are doing exactly that, they are offering small loans to ‘new to credits’, generating their own data, and opening up a completely new segment, which is unbanked, but most definitely not un-bankable.
- Embed It– Buzzword since a long time, it is slowly making its way into our daily lives, seamlessly integrating with regular purchases, making it easier for consumers to access credit right where they need it.
- Engage, not preach– Acquiring new customers digitally, but treating them like it was still the 80s, is changing. Customers like to keep it digital, don’t call me, unless its really necessary. Engagement is going digital, elements of personalisation are kicking in, call it AI or ML or pure common sense, those who know their customers better will retain them.
Datacultr is a big proponent of digital, and we work very closely with our partners and clients to provide our clients with customer experiences that are delivered digitally, while driving efficiencies and business.
Prateek: How does Datacultr leverage AI and ML to improve its debt collection system, and what benefits does this bring to lenders and borrowers?
Neel Juriasingani: The biggest segment Datacultr is catering to is underserved and unbanked consumers which are excluded from traditional banking due to a lack of credit scores. We are helping financial institutes with credit enablement to extend credit to these supposedly high-risk consumers. Datacultr’s ML-driven engagement models gauge the risk behaviors, and repayment patterns during the loan cycle and help segment these borrowers and customize loan journeys accordingly with different combinations of smart reminder mechanisms and digital nudges to make sure that these consumers make timely repayments
The lenders are benefitting from reduced credit defaults, quadrupled collection efficiency, boost in loan approvals whereas the borrowers are able to access credit affordably, enhance their financial literacy and transform their lives with more income-generation avenues
Prateek: How does Datacultr ensure that its platform is secure and compliant with data privacy regulations, and what steps are taken to protect user data?
Neel Juriasingani: At Datacultr, customer data privacy is of utmost importance. From the get-go we ensure no personally identifiable information is taken, processed, and stored within our system. Given our expanded presence with clients across the globe, we work towards data storage & processing within the country. Our data security and customer privacy mechanisms are validated with multiple certifications such as ISO 27001-2013, ISO 27701, SOC 2- Type 2
Prateek: Can you discuss how new technology options are helping to ease things for businesses in the lending industry, and how Datacultr is at the forefront of this innovation?
Neel Juriasingani: We believe technology is playing a big part in helping businesses grow and in driving upward social mobility among consumers across segments, especially mid and low-income groups. Datacultr’s technology is going to be vital in making it viable for institutional lenders to lend to the unbanked and underbanked, where otherwise challenges of inability to assess risk and high cost of servicing were holding them back. By increasing our reach throughout emerging markets worldwide, our innovative solutions are making a clear measurable impact to the lives of the unbanked and underserved.