Fintech veteran Jitendra Gupta describes Jupiter’s vision to disrupt India’s banking system

Jitendra Gupta is one of the most recognizable names in the Indian fintech ecosystem.

As founder of Citrus payment, and later, the MD of PayU (which acquired Citrus Pay in 2016 in what was then largest fintech M&A), he has designed and scaled products that have revolutionized the country’s digital payments industry over the past decade.

However, despite obtaining a $130 million release and hit millionaires among the first employees of Citrus Pay, he nurtures a certain regret.

“In hindsight, selling the business so early might not have been a good decision. We could have incorporated Citrus Pay into something bigger instead of exiting. Even if we hadn’t done anything new , we would have been 10 times bigger than in 2016”, Jitendra tells Your story Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma in an exclusive interview.

“But at the time, the [exit] was good for the company, for the shareholders and for the team members. And the market supported us,” he adds.

After serving at Naspers-owned PayU for three years, Jitendra started his second run as an entrepreneur in August 2019 with Jupiter, a mobile-focused neo-banking platform aimed at millennials.

By then, fintech had become the hottest segment of India’s internet economy, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital, recording billions of transactions annually and benefiting from post-demonetization tailwinds. .

Jitendra says, “There was this feeling that I hadn’t created anything big and punchy even after being in the startup ecosystem for 10 years. I felt restless.

With his knowledge of fintech and financial services sector – he spent seven years at ICICI Bank before launching Citrus Pay in 2010 – he undertook to disrupt the traditional banking system in India, with a new-age fintech product.

Jupiter made headlines for lifting a dazzling eye $24 million seed round within three months and in stealth mode.

Well-known investors like Sequoia Capital India, 3one4 Capital, Matrix Partners India, and BENEXT, as well as distinguished angels including Amrish Rau (Pine Labs), Sriharsha Majety (Swiggy), Kunal Shah (CRED), Sumer Juneja (SoftBank India), Utsav Somani (AngelList India), Ashish Hemrajani (BookMyShow) and Kunal Bahl ( Snapdeal), among others, supported Jitendra’s vision.

Later, in April 2020, the startup then raised a $2 million seed round led by a UK venture capital firm Hummingbird Companies and based in the United States Capital of the bedrock, at a reported valuation of $100 million.

Why a neobank?

Jitendra was convinced that “Indian customers were tired of their existing banks, their processes, their experiences, their mindset and their behavior”.

So, any simpler, faster and different service would be welcome.

“We wanted to deliver a personalized banking experience with the internet business mindset. Our customer service is not differentiated based on a customer’s balance and we provide an instant response to their needs,” explains the founder.

Additionally, Jitendra wanted to build a business that would go beyond a transactional relationship with customers.

Jupiter is a mobile-first neobank for millennials

Jitendra explains: “Payments and loans [what I did earlier] were transactional businesses. None of the fintechs in India has yet been able to create a dent in the banking sector. If you really want to impact the life of consumer financial services, you need to build a relationship of trust over 20-25 years.

Jupiter, based in Mumbai, essentially serves as digital bank that helps consumers achieve their financial goals, maintain financial discipline and become more creditworthy.

From money transfers and cash withdrawals to savings accounts and micro-loans, consumers can avail a variety of services on its app.

“The the bank account is only the entry point in the customer relationship,” he explains.

Jupiter empowers users to achieve their financial goals, maintain financial discipline, and grow their wealth

What is building a neobank in India all about?

India’s banking industry is so heavily regulated that building anything new is tough. More so, if your long-term vision is to disrupt age-old banking systems. “He is impossible to disrupt an HDFC or an ICICI overnight. It will take years to establish that kind of trust. You have to constantly innovate to build that,” says Jitendra.

Add to that the enormous burden of compliance, which eats up most of the money and mental space. “It’s super tough, especially when it comes to compliance. At Citrus Pay and PayU and all my previous periods, even after five years of maturity, we did not have this level of compliance and data security,” shares the founder.

He goes on to explain,

“To build a large, sustainable and successful neobank in India, you need at least $200-300 million over the next five years. And it’s only because the the initial investment in infrastructure is very high. Money invested in security compliances, liquidity ratios you need to maintain, investment in customer service, etc. is huge. We now know why banks are slow to act. So our challenge is to keep the fine balance between compliance and agility.”

Every swipe of the Jupiter Smart Debit Card helps users earn rewards

Even investors know it neobanks are white space, and there is no established path. “So they look at whether your vision is bold enough or not,” Jitendra reveals.

Even though Big Tech companies like Google, Amazon, and WhatsApp have flirted with the idea of ​​venturing into financial services, they haven’t yet had a noticeable impact.

Jitendra believes this is because compliance is a local and nuanced topic that varies from geography to geography.

“Furthermore, Big Tech companies are inherently don’t want to be regulated. That’s what makes a difference between them and players like us trying to build something from scratch,” he says.

The present and the future of Jupiter

Neobanking mainly has two segments: individuals and SMEs. While the likes of Open, NiYo, Razorpay X, Yono by SBI, etc compete for SMEs, which have historically been underserved by banks, Jupiter focuses on retail customers.

Last November, it launched a micro-loan app (“Buy Now Pay Later”) Ball, which provides consumers small loans up to Rs 10,000 which can be used for UPI directed purchases. Bullet is similar to LazyPay (a product Jitendra launched at PayU) and has amassed over half a million downloads so far.

In May of this year, Jupiter began inviting customers to join a waiting list before taking its core neo-banking platform live in June. He partnered with Visa, Federal Bank, and Axis Bank for the launch.

“We don’t want too many partnerships because we want customers to come to our proposal and not think they are doing business with banks,” explains the founder.

Jupiter’s micro-lending app Bullet has had over 500,000 downloads

On Jupiter, consumers can create smart accounts, get a real-time breakdown of their spending and savings, earn rewards with every tap of their smart debit cards or UPI transactions, grow their wealth, and learn financial literacy lessons.

Jupiter also recently acquired Y Easyplan supported by Combinator, an AI-powered financial savings app, which had over 2.5 lakh users.

“We were impressed with the customer love that Easyplan generated, and there was a lot of overlap between our missions and our philosophy to promote the financial well-being of consumers,” Jitendra told the media.

Neobanking is arguably the hottest sub-segment of fintech right now. the Global neobank market estimated at $394.6 billion by 2026, according to Zion Market Research. In India, of course, neobanks are in their infancy.

However, buzz and investor sentiment are on the rise.

Jitendra, who has spent most of his life in finance, knows what he builds and why. “We called our product Jupiter, which is the largest planet, because we aspire to become the largest financial services company in India,” he says.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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