Addressing a key pain point in financial services – Rishabh Goel, Co-founder and CEO of Credgenics

Loan collections in India continue to remain largely driven by processes that are manual, inefficient and error-prone. We discuss the impact of high levels of NPAs and what may be done to mitigate them with Rishabh Goel, Co-founder and CEO of Credgenics

Rishabh Goel, Co-founder & CEO, Credgenics
Rishabh Goel, Co-founder & CEO, Credgenics

Credgenics is addressing a massive pain point for the global financial services ecosystem of reducing Non-performing Assets (NPAs) with a proactive, technology-led approach to debt collections, according to Rishabh Goel. “With its innovative technology, powered by AI and ML capabilities, Credgenics provides an integrated, automated, digitised, and analytical way to transform debt collections.”

“A higher level of NPAs indicates a likelihood of a larger number of credit defaults that eventually impact the lender’s profitability and net worth. NPAs affect a lender’s liquidity and credit flow, thereby posing a threat to sustained new credit disbursements. The strength of an economy is linked to the health of its banking system, and a fragile banking sector is more likely to lead to a weaker economy.

“Credgenics’ comes with digital-first and data-driven capabilities across the retail collections lifecycle – a one of its kind in the industry. The SaaS-based modular platform ensures that there is minimal human intervention and that operations can be scaled rapidly as per business needs. Credgenics digitises debt collection activities end-to-end from pre-due stages to multiple delinquency levels and legal action stages. The analytics engine powers requisite insights at each stage to enable lenders to take the right actions. Lenders have the visibility of collections at any point in time and the flexibility to drive the collections accordingly. The platform transforms the borrower experience as it allows lenders to digitise their outreach, align tailored messaging to borrowers’ preferences and focus on personalised engagements.

“The fact that we have been ranked #1 Market Leader in India Retail Lending and #2 Regional Leader in APAC in the IBSi Sales League Table 2022 is an outcome of our innovation-oriented and customer-centric approach. On average, the business impacts seen across the customer base with Credgenics’ solutions include 20% higher resolution rates, 80% recoveries across delinquent accounts, 25% higher collections, 40% reduction in cost to collections and 30% reduction in time to collect. We are handling $2 billion value of NPA stage retail loan book and $6 billion value of delinquent stage retail loan book across our customer base.”

 “Credgenics uses a unique ML model approach to segment borrowers for lenders based on a wide variety of parameters including the borrower’s demographic details, loan details, behavioural patterns and other preferences

How does having a good collections platform improve the lending process?
“With higher and faster collections at lower costs, lenders can not only enhance their profitability significantly but also continue to expand lending to new customer segments. With digitisation, automation and the use of analytics, operational efficiencies get a boost, and certain teams can be allocated to focus on specific areas where their specialised skills are better utilised. Real-time visibility on the performance and status of collections across stages ensures that strategies can be tweaked easily as per business needs. The insights gathered about customer behaviour, communication preferences and repayments during collections can be extremely useful while approaching them and assessing them for future transactions. Customer experience in collections and loan repayments may impact customer loyalty and repurchase decisions. Hence, lenders need to provide a consistent, personalised and simpler experience across the loan lifecycle, including collections.”

What is the Credgenics model, and how does the platform work?
“Credgenics offers a SaaS-based platform with multiple modules around digital collections, multi-channel communications, calling, dialers, litigation management, digital payments, mobile-based field collections, dashboard and analytics. Lenders may pick and choose the modules as per their needs. The platform is readily integrated via APIs in the lender’s ecosystem. There are multiple business models for the platform as per the choice of module, specific requirements of the lender and scale. Credgenics is working with more than 70 banks, non-banking finance companies, digital lenders, housing finance companies, asset reconstruction companies and FinTech lenders.”

What does digitisation bring to the collections process?
“AI-powered technology platforms are providing the answer to a more customer-centric and scientific approach to debt collections. AI and ML capabilities help lenders determine customer preferences, align collection strategies, enhance customer experience, and reduce NPAs in the process. Digitisation of collections processes ensures faster execution of strategies at dramatically lower costs and comprehensive analysis of performance to make the desired changes swiftly. “It has been observed that more than 50% of recoveries in retail loans can be completed successfully through digital and automated mode without any human intervention. For example, borrowers in the pre-due stage may need to be just gently reminded or nudged about their upcoming due payments. Automating these reminders, adding customer-specific information, using specific digital channels and relaying them as per customer preferences can make a lot of difference. Approaching all borrowers through multiple channels at the same time without any collections strategy in place is highly inefficient. Similarly, digital lenders, FinTechs and the BNPL segment, where the loan ticket sizes are small, but volumes are high, need a tailored digital-collections strategy, which is completely aligned to the customer category and their business model.”

What is the significance of personalising the customer experience?
“As customers get used to a digitised, personalised and user-friendly experience across industries, banking needs to keep pace. These are also a differentiator, contributing toward the fast-growing acceptance of FinTechs. A personalised strategy in collections helps lenders get better outcomes from their outreach efforts at reduced costs while enhancing borrowers’ experiences. For example, traditionally, lenders may be reaching out repeatedly to their borrowers across delinquency buckets in one go with a generic message over multiple channels. However, with Credgenics, lenders can tailor the messaging depending on the pre-delinquency or delinquency bucket stage of the borrower. The choice of sequence to be followed for use of different channels can be arrived at based on a combination of parameters, including the borrower’s preferences or responsiveness. This mode of engagement is not only highly effective but also extremely cost-effective while boosting collections.”

What is the data management process to improve collections outcomes?
“Credgenics uses a unique ML model approach to segment borrowers for lenders based on a wide variety of parameters, including the borrower’s demographic details, loan details, behavioural patterns and other preferences. Accordingly, a tailored communications outreach strategy for each borrower is identified and executed across the collections’ lifecycle from pre-due to legal stages. This strategy includes the mix of specific channels, time and frequency of outreach along with the messages that need to be used in these communications. The prioritisation of cases based on the amount due and chances of recovery is also taken into consideration. Based on the outcomes, the strategy is continually tweaked to ensure the best outcomes and to align it further to the lender’s needs. This data-driven and customised approach results in reduced time to collect, increased collections at a faster rate and drastic reduction in cost to collect while improving the customer experience.”

How does ‘nudging’ make a difference?
“Traditional collections practices include a mix of intimidating and pushing approaches with borrowers to get them to repay using recurring calls, relentless messaging across channels, outstretched dispute resolution and hostile field agents. However, this scenario is evolving with not only the regulators taking a firm stand but also borrowers not responding well to such tactics. As lending options for customers grow manifold with the rise of new players, brand loyalty takes a severe hit with such approaches.

“A holistic agenda that is digitised, automated, data-driven and customer-centric makes a huge difference in collections. A comprehensive collections strategy incorporates a variety of digital communication channels, such as WhatsApp, SMS, voice bots, and IVRs, in multiple vernacular languages and genuinely assists borrowers to repay. Simplifying the entire experience and tailoring it in an unobtrusive manner for each borrower is the key to nudge. As an example, automated conversational AI bots can be used to convey the personalised message delicately, clarify any queries and complete the repayments with relevant links without any human intervention.

“Automated voice calls give the required comfort to borrowers to choose when and how to repay loans. Their selections trigger text messages with online payment links, and the bot stays on the call to help borrowers navigate further. Making borrowers aware of the implications of not making their repayments on time and solving their challenges helps significantly. Lenders can create a completely automated communications journey where next stages and followups are triggered automatically based on borrower’s response, thereby elevating the customer experience.”

How can improving collections extend financial inclusion?
“By putting in place a modern collections process, banks and other lenders can keep their delinquency rates low and improve their credit cash flow cycle. As the risk of being able to recover the lent money gets minimised, there is an incentive to lend more, especially to the new-to-credit segments and unbanked population. “We are working with FinTechs and digital lenders who are specifically focused on lending to such untapped segments. The ML-based data-driven capabilities help lenders adopt a more proactive approach to debt collections. By empowering lenders to take a more assistive, automated and consultative approach towards borrowers in collections, we help remove the human bias from the equation, which ensures that all categories of borrowers are treated with respect and care irrespective of their backgrounds.”

What’s next for Credgenics?
“We are on a journey to disrupt the loan collections and debt resolutions for banks and other non-banking lending companies with technology-led innovative solutions worldwide. Our objective is to enable lenders with the best technology to reimagine their approach to loan collections. We aim to work with lenders to further reduce their time and cost to collect, increase their collections, bring down their NPAs, improve their operational efficiencies and transform their borrowers’ experiences. The business value that we have been able to deliver has ensured that we continue to add customers rapidly and our prospect pipeline across the lending segments is very robust. “We will continue to add innovative capabilities to the platform and expand our product offerings worldwide to suit the respective markets. We are replicating our successful models in Southeast Asia and are investing in setting up our infrastructure and teams locally. We have set up primary offices in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore, and are exploring other markets for expansion.”

Rishabh Goel, Co-founder and CEO, Credgenics
Prior to Credgenics, Rishabh was with Deutsche Bank and Blackrock, where he recognised the prevailing archaic approaches to debt recoveries and the lack of a robust digital framework in this crucial leg of the lending ecosystem. This motivated him to establish Credgenics, which aims to address these issues and fundamentally transform the way debt collections are approached by lenders. As the CEO, he drives the strategic business direction and growth agenda for Credgenics. Goel holds a BA in Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and has completed certifications in Financial Risk Management (FRM) and Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA).