Indian FinTech sector, which was successful in attracting a funding of nearly $270 million last year (2016), has emerged as one of the top five markets when it comes to the value of capital funding and investments in the sector. In order to add more valuable players to the mix, Catalyst, a digital payments initiative has recently announced the launch of applications for its incubator focused on ‘Fintech for the Last Mile,' according to report in BusinessWireIndia.

The incubator is scouting for FinTech innovations that will meet specific needs and requirements of small businesses and low-income consumers. The incubates will not only get financial support of up to 33 lakhs each ($50,000), but also get a direct access to technology infrastructure, research, market access, mentorship and operations support for conducting product experiments.

The selected startups will also have an opportunity to get acquainted with Catalyst’s broader ecosystem, including other FinTech companies, traditional financial institutions, government departments, policy makers, and knowledge partners through Catalyst’s FinPosium events.

The selected incubatees will get mentorship from esteemed names in the industry including Rohan Agrish- CTO, Capital Float, Sanjay Swamy- Managing Partner Prime Ventures and Alok Mittal- CEO Indifi Technologies. Rakesh Mishra, a well known start up advisor and former Head of Innovation Centre at Infosys has been appointed the program advisor for the Incubator.

For the uninitiated, Catalyst is a digital payments initiative seeded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as a part of its collaboration agreement with the Government of India to increase the adoption of digital payments by underserved and marginalized communities in India.

Earlier in the year, a joint report furnished by Internet and Mobile Association of India, and Deloitte stated that in medium-term, one can expect FinTech players in the Indian subcontinent to merge their position in urban and metro centres and work towards extending their services to rural and semi-urban pockets of the country as well in the next three-five years.

The report said, "India remains one of the largest markets where the structural enablers to setup and incubate FinTech have come together strongly and at an apt time."

Explaining the reason for the admirable growth of FinTech in the country, the report mentioned that the coming together a lot of different factors have worked out in favour of the industry. It also explained that though India is doing great, the developing economy still has a long ground to cover when it comes to acquiring the Global numero uno FinTech market position.

In order to support this initiative, Catalyst has forged cross sector- partnerships with firms such as Aspada, SAIF Partners, Accion, MasterCard, Axis Bank, Aditya Birla Payments Bank, Capital Float among others for funding and operational support to the incubatees.

Speaking at the launch of applications, Badal Malick, CEO, Catalyst said, “There are unique challenges faced by low-income underserved groups like financial literacy barriers, high variability in income and expenditure flows, informal credit agreements, difficulty in negotiating complex interfaces, etc. which aren’t being addressed by the current market. Virtually all fintech products in the market today serve the needs of affluent, urban, English speaking and internet-connected audiences. Our incubator seeks to close this gap by supporting entrepreneurs with a vision to develop technology and business solutions that address these unmet needs.”

He further added, "Apart from access to Catalyst’s strong network across the venture funding, banking, and fintech industry, grantees will also benefit from our on-ground presence in Jaipur - our ‘digital payments lab’, providing them a chance to test and iterate their solutions with real users and customers, and an established learning infrastructure.”

The applications for Catalyst's Fintech Incubator's First Cohort are open till 15th September, 2017. Interested startups can apply for the same here.

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