Business Today

Poor man's banker

twitter-logo Manu Kaushik        Print Edition: June 26, 2011

Fewer than 360 million of India's 1.2 billion population have bank accounts. In contrast, there are 800 million mobile connections in the country. In early 2007, brothers Abhishek and Abhinav Sinha came up with a brainwave: why not try and extend banking services on mobile phones to those who do not have accounts?

EKO India Financial Services
Founded in: 2007
Founders: Abhishek Sinha, Abhinav Sinha
What makes it cool: Enables those without regular bank accounts to save, transfer funds via mobiles
Rating: 6.5
Sahad's take: The company is in a good space of financial inclusion. It helps unbanked migrant workers transfer money through mobiles. It has the early mover advantage. There is a huge need for this service.
This was the spark that began EKO India Financial Services, which today enables its 150,000 customers to save and transfer money through their mobiles. All they need to do is visit one of EKO's 1,500-odd retailers. The firm uses back-end servers that are integrated with the core banking system of State Bank of India. "The cell phones of customers and retailers act as debit cards and points of sale devices, respectively," says Abhishek.

With a wafer-thin margin of 0.025 per cent - 25 paise on Rs 1,000 - EKO needs to keep scaling up. In 2010/11, it had transactions of around Rs 1,200 crore.

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