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We help digitize the delivery of financial services at sachet sizes, says Hrushikesh Mehta, SVP – Financial Services, ONDC

New Delhi: The evolution of financial services has witnessed remarkable transformations, propelled by technological advancements and shifting market dynamics. Aspiring professionals in the financial services field find themselves navigating a landscape marked by innovation, regulatory changes, and an increasing emphasis on digital solutions.
With the rise of fintech, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, individuals aspiring to thrive in financial services must continuously adapt, embrace digital literacy, and cultivate a holistic approach to financial management to carve out a successful career path. In this regard, Mansi Gupta, ObserveNow, interacted with Hrushikesh Mehta, SVP – Financial Services, Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

Can you provide a brief overview of your role as the Senior Vice President of Financial Services at ONDC?

My role at ONDC entails having overall responsibility for Financial Services on the network which includes determining prioritization of category and product choices, driving implementation on the network, adding network participants, helping reduce the cost of operations, and recommending ecosystem changes that will help drive financial inclusion

How does ONDC contribute to the evolution of financial services, and what role does it play in shaping the industry landscape?

ONDC plays a role in 3 major ways:

1. Digitization: We help digitize the delivery of financial services at sachet sizes. This helps drive financial inclusion at the bottom of the pyramid.

2. Standardization: We help create API standards and “model implementations” that the industry can adopt and implement. This improves the ability of digital platforms and financial services manufacturers to integrate quickly regardless of size and resource availability.

3. Connectivity: The creation of a network from digitization and standardization results in the ability to reach markets for financial institutions and the surfacing of more products to end users who previously didn’t have access to these products.

Can you highlight some key initiatives or projects within ONDC’s Financial Services division that you find particularly impactful?

We are currently implementing credit for individuals and sole proprietors; health, motor and marine insurance, and mutual fund investments. We believe all 3 will have a major positive impact on the ability of financial services companies to distribute their product and the availability of these products to the underserved.

In what ways has technology transformed financial services during your career, and how do you see these trends evolving in the coming years?

Technology has enabled financial services companies to reduce the costs of delivery of products. However, this has happened only in pockets and not at the scale it needs to happen in order to address the financial inclusion problem in the country. We believe that digital public infrastructure will help financial services reach the bottom of the pyramid in sachet sizes while being profitable from a unit economic standpoint. This is key to driving sustainable financial inclusion. So not only will products become accessible they will also be affordable for the end user.

What advice would you give to emerging professionals aspiring to succeed in the financial services field?  

Given that the future is digital I would recommend that emerging professionals study 2 things more keenly as they gear up to enter the workforce.

1. Learning how to build user experience for new to technology people. The bottom of the pyramid in India tends to be afraid of using technology. Creating an interface that helps people adopt new technology will go a long way in delivering financial services to where they are needed.

2. Learn how to leverage digital public goods that are being developed in India to deliver financial services digitally to the underserved. Digital public goods (ONDC, Account Aggregator, UPI, Aadhar) help reach markets that companies previously haven’t been able to reach. These skills will become invaluable to companies that are in the process of adopting and implementing digital public goods.

The evolution of financial services is driven by technology and market shifts, emphasizing digital solutions. In this interview with Hrushikesh Mehta, SVP of Financial Services at ONDC, he highlighted ONDC’s role in digitization, standardization, and connectivity. Key initiatives include implementing credit, insurance, and mutual fund investments, aiming to boost financial inclusion. Mehta sees technology as reducing delivery costs but emphasizes the need for scalable solutions for widespread financial inclusion. His advice for emerging professionals includes mastering user experience for tech newcomers and leveraging digital public goods to deliver financial services effectively.

Tags: BFSI