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India-based InvestoAsia to be a personal finance-tech Unicorn in 5 yrs

Smriti Tomar, Founder, InvestoAsia

About 76 percent of Indians are financially illiterate and have no idea about personal finance hence making it a huge opportunity for companies in the investment-tech space,  feels Smriti Tomar, Founder, and CEO of InvestoAsia, a year-old start-up that helps retail investors participate in global capital markets.

The Gurgaon-based start-up is an online personal finance a platform that uses blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to allow retail users to have an exposure in the international market with the help of some “interesting”  DIY (do-it-yourself) financial tools that the company has developed.

“Our vision is to enable financial inclusion, awareness and decentralization and mission is to democratize access to the global financial system for retail users by covering all the aspects of personal finance– saving, investing, borrowing and learning,” Tomar told IBS Intelligence adding that the company does not charge any fees from the users but only from market makers for sending trade to process through the platform along with a listing fee to the merchants.

Building platform on blockchain and DLT

The year-old company, which is soon going to close funding this year from a clutch of interested investors from India and Hong Kong and was selected for the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park 2019 under the top 100 start-ups globally and for grants, making it among the only two selected from India this year. With a set of some futuristic technologies such as public and private Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and AI, the start-up is working towards “bringing the most powerful virtual bank”. The company has invented an authentic technology using blockchain to verify assets before issuing on the platform and has filed a patent for the same.

“Blockchain can increase internal operational efficiencies within our ecosystem and brings the costs down for our users. We use the latest technology stack to provide an easy interface for even the most complex processes through automatic solutions,” she said adding that the team at InvestoAsia comprises alumni and professionals from IIT/IIM/NITs along with experts in the blockchain segment, foreign investments, and compliance.

According to Tomar, personal finance in India is inaccessible to the retail users and the lower segment of society because of complicated bureaucratic process, lack of market knowledge, and absence of integrated platforms for all financial needs. Besides, high fees, inaccessibility and lack of exposure to the international market makes investment difficult for a layman to invest in equity market thus restricting its appeal to a few high net-worth individuals, which InvestoAsia is trying to solve, added the 23-year-old techie from NIT Bhopal and blockchain developer, who started learning about investments as a teenager.

Opportunity for personal finance-tech

“We have very strong data that reveals both the market opportunity and the share for us. There were a total of 5.6 million monthly active investors in India in 2016 with 78 million monthly active users predicted by 2026. Total accounts in 2026 are likely to reach over 200 million, which will be 14% of the population in 2026. Emerging markets market capitalization stands at $25 trillion, and this is what we are offering to our users in terms of investment opportunities,” said Tomar, who while working with a top Indian brokerage company helped around 25 Korean investors to invest in India.

At present, Tomar claims that there are no such Indian company providing direct services like InvestoAsia but a few that provide similar services in parts. The company started in India and is soon planning to expand its services to South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian and the Middle East countries through strategic partnerships and collaborations with banks and brokerages.  Some of the other players in the investment-tech or wealth management-tech segment are Paytm Money, Scripbox, Kuvera, amongst a few others who are betting big on India’s economic growth expanding millennials/ middle class, financial literacy, robust and growing Indian economy, pro-active government and regulators, rising trust and adoption in digital financial services.

India’s rising GDP is likely to increase from $ 6,600 today to $ 15,527 by  2026 due to digitization of financial services and this gives Tomar enough faith that InvestoAsia could become a Unicorn by 2023, with monthly revenue of more than $50+ million, AUM (Asset Under Management) of more than $500+ million, and more than 1+ million active users.

“We aim to bring the biggest FDI inflow for a FinTech venture in India in terms of raising funds. We already have been approached for partnerships from various financial institutions in India, Hong Kong, and Korea,” Tomar added.

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