As lines go, these could easily qualify as two of the more catchy ones amongst India Inc.’s surfeit of vision statements. But for Jignesh Shah, Co-founder of the Rs 500-crore Financial Technologies (FT) Group, those mantras are much more than beguiling buzzwords. The 42-year-old entrepreneur, who started out 15 years ago as a technology provider to stockbrokers and went on to start a commodities futures trading exchange which today does average daily trading volumes of Rs 22,000-23,000 crore and which has a virtual monopoly, is dead serious about his unique model for financial inclusion.
Along with 40-year-old Co-founder & Director (Technology) Dewang Neralla, Shah is determined to take the financial markets—across asset classes like equities, commodities, currencies and bonds—to the common man at an affordable cost. The business of exchanges will doubtless be the core of FT, but there’s more: Around that nucleus, Shah is almost fanatical about grabbing upstream and downstream opportunities that range from depositories and payment gateways to information vending—that’s Shah’s vision of what he terms a financial ecosystem created on a backbone of technology.
Shah’s dream is to offer data and transactions at the lowest possible price points in a manner similar to which sachets revolutionised the sale of shampoo in rural markets. At the other end of the spectrum, he is taking his exchange network overseas, riding on the front-end technology created in the late nineties.
“FT will seize the opportunity to widen, deepen, broaden and democratise the markets and drive financial inclusion,” says Ravi K. Sheth, Executive Director, The Great Eastern Shipping Company, and an investor in Financial Technologies (India) since 1999. “FT’s strategy is based on driving financial inclusion by reaching out to the bottom of the pyramid as this will drive future business,” adds Sanjeev Patkar, Director (Research), Dolat Capital, who has been tracking the company since 2003.