Fintech startup Open, which offers a digital banking service for small businesses, announces its pre-series A funding led by Unicorn India Ventures and Recruit Co. Ltd, through its investment subsidiary RSP India Fund LLC. Existing investors ISME-ACE and Vaibhav Domkundwar’s BetterCapital AngelList syndicate also participated in the round.
The startup had earlier raised investments from Citrus Pay founders Amrish Rau & Jitendra Gupta, TaxiforSure founder Apremaya Radhakrishnan, Chiranth Patil of BetaPlus Ventures, Archana Priyadarshini of Unicorn India Ventures and Vaibhav Domkudwar’s BetterCapital AngelList Syndicate.
Founded in May 2017 by serial entreprenuers Anish Achuthan, Mabel Chacko and Ajeesh Achuthan along with ex-TaxiforSure CFO Deena Jacob, Open offers a digital current account in partnership with banks that offers all the features of a traditional bank account with integrated tools to automate finances for small businesses. The account has all the tools that’s required by a small business to send and receive payments combined with an AI based accounting engine, that automates bookkeeping and expense management.
Apart from enabling the businesses to run their finances effectively, the platform also offers an APIs for developers to integrate banking and payments into their business workflows. The startup which has about 1000 customers is also getting ready to launch an innovative business expense card with an attached credit-line called DUO for enabling pay-outs and employee expense management for employees. Open has currently partnered with 7 Banks for powering the banking services on the platform.
According to Anish Achuthan, Co-founder & CEO of Open, “Banking is broken for the 51 million small businesses as traditional business banking services have not focused on the needs of these businesses. This presents us with a large opportunity to disrupt this segment in partnership with banks. The funding will help us accelerate customer acquisition and growth as we target to onboard 2 lakh small businesses into the platform in the next two years. Further the funding will be used to enhance our core platform to launch new products on lending and wealth management using AI and financial analytics.”
Speaking on the investment, Archana Priyadarshini, Partner, Unicorn India Ventures says, “Fintech in India is one of the fastest growing sectors because technology can play an enabler in taking banking solutions at affordable rates to the unbanked population. Open’s business model of extending traditional banking services through digital route is a unique proposition within fintech and this prompted us to lead the round.”
What is Neo-Banking
A Neo-Bank is an institution that provides checking, a prepaid debit card and some form of savings account without the traditional brick-and-mortar buildings or put simply, a ‘neobank’ is a bank sitting on a 100% digital and mobile platform (so no branches). It usually includes features like mobile deposits, P2P payments, mobile budgeting tools and real-time digital receipts.
In India, Neobanks are relatively new concept and Paytm Payments Bank, Fino Payments Bank, DigiBank (India) by DBS and Open are few neobanks operating in India. Open claims that it is Asia’s first neobank for SMEs