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CRED’s Kunal Shah: Self-regulation will save fintech ecosystem

Speaking at the Global Fintech Fest, CRED’s Kunal Shah raised concerns that the ease of access to funding is reducing the average experience of fintech founders. Fintech products and timing of offering will be the key differentiator for startups, he said.

September 30, 2021 / 03:59 PM IST
Illustration: Suneesh K

Illustration: Suneesh K

The boon of seamless technology comes with the curse of misbehaviour by a few players in the ecosystem, according to CRED founder Kunal Shah.

Speaking at the Global Fintech Fest 2021, Shah spoke on why it was important for fintech players to self-regulate, the need to increase the inclusion of women in financial services, why he was an angel investor in over 200 startups and more.

Self-regulation key for fintechs

Shah said, while the fintech ecosystem was witnessing immense growth, the opportunities would come with setbacks of malpractices by a few players in the ecosystem. But, founders must focus on doing the right thing themselves to avoid coming under the lens of regulators, he added.

“If the Fintech ecosystem does not want to get overly regulated, they have to self-regulate and do the right thing. We must not make it a third-party’s responsibility to constantly monitor us for us to do the right thing,” Shah stated.


“In this world, everything seems to be fair, seems to be a good opportunity,” he said, explaining that the focus should be to make products that companies would not shy away from offering their friends and family.

On what will make fintech firms survive over the long-term, Shah believes that offering what the customer needs at the right place at the right time would decide a company's success.

He added, “Words like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), lending, credit card are just new variants of the same need that has been there forever. The question is: are you a preferred method for people to borrow money from? And, are you present when they need money?”

Shah’s 200+ angel investments

On September 23, Moneycontrol reported how Shah had actively invested in companies through pitches received on WhatsApp and had been an angel investor in over 200 startups.

At the event, Shah said he had invested in startups to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship and job creation over subsidies.

“The reason I invest is to build the ecosystem. If we, founders, do not support the next set of 1000 founders then how will we make this an aspirational space?” he asked.

“We have known that the country can’t become a superpower by just giving subsidies. The country is running on some version of cash back all the time. Ultimately, people need to become more prosperous and that will not happen unless we create entrepreneurship as a culture,” Shah explained.

Although, he warned that with the increasing enthusiasm, the average years of experience of founders is declining.

“Many feel that if you can get capital at high speed, you can get wisdom at high speed. Unfortunately, wisdom will only come with experiences in life. There is no shortcut to accelerate that,” he said.

Financial inclusion of women and financial literacy

Shah echoed the views of multiple fintech ecosystem voices – a lot needed to be done to increase the extent of financial literacy.

He said, “The education system needs to do a lot on financial literacy. We have to make people aware of what credit scores are, or what interest rates they are paying. It is surprising that even the most affluent customers in India do not understand what their credit score is!”

He further stressed that growth was heavily dependent on growing the participation of Indian women in financial services.

“Participation in financial services is very skewed towards men. With one gender missing from the labour force, how do we become a $5 trillion economy? All these unicorns and stuff is cool. The reality is the per capita income of the country has dropped due to Covid,” Shah said.

The Global Fintech Fest 2021 has been organised by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) along with the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Payments Council of India (PCI) and Fintech Convergence Council (FCC).
Priyanka Iyer
first published: Sep 30, 2021 03:59 pm
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