Among the six start-ups which were selected for the third batch of GP accelerator program, Bankcomparebd is the lone one that deals purely with banking and financial sector. They successfully graduated from GP Accelerator program and now grameenphone became shareholding partner of Bankcomparebd.
Here is the excerpt of the interview for our Fintect readers.
FINTECH: What is Bankcomparebd and where did the idea for it originate?
M.T: Bankcomparebd is a financial aggregator and financial comparison site that allows the client to compare fixed deposits, loans, credit cards, and more. It’s a platform that helps visitors find information about different banks and their services, and allows the customer to apply directly from the website once they’ve chosen the service they want.
The idea took birth when my cousin visited me from the UK in January 2015. He told me how financial aggregator websites were well established there and about 70 to 80 percent of the population visited these sites to make well-informed decisions about their financial needs. We did a preliminary research on the Bangladesh market, and realized that such services are very much at the back-end here, but there’s a growing need for such a platform.
In Bangladesh, getting loans or even making a fixed deposit is not as straightforward as it is abroad. Each banking service has several other segments within it, making it far more complicated, and the need for a comparative site that can give customized rates to its customers became a necessity. Thus, in late 2015, we launched our site.
FINTECH: What is your role at Bankcomparebd?
M.T: I am an electrical engineer by profession, but since my university days I’ve been interested in the stock exchange business, and so when this whole idea started taking shape, I found a market group and started this company I look after most of the tech, development, and innovation side of the business.
FINTECH: How does Bankcomparebd work?
M.T: From bankcomparebd, you can easily check your loan and credit card eligibility within 3 minutes calculate the total costing and get connected about required documents for particular product. Also at the same time Customers get informed about reasons of non-eligibility in case of non-eligible.
When a customer is ready to apply from our website after checking their eligibility, then the first step from our end is to make a verification call to verify their given data. After verification we send a document list through SMS/E-Mail to customer for particular bank. When customer is ready to give their documents, our physical verification team will visit to customer end to help him and verify his documents. Only after then we send the customer lead to our connected bank.
So banks are now getting pre-cooked verified lead within shortest possible time in the cost effective way. We also have an individual data quality team who collect regular data from banks and customers as well as update them. There’s our tech team and innovation team who are fully focused on development to ease customer service.
FINTECH: How feasible is your business model in Bangladesh’s market?
M.T: We’ve a USD 6.5 billion market per year in Bangladesh. It’s huge and it’s growing each year by 10 to 15 percent. By 2025, this sector will be booming by almost double the amount. Here’s the thing; people who will become parents by 2020 will be e-parents, generation of parents who grew up witnessing and experiencing digital services. Our service procedure will allow them to do everything from home. On our site they can choose and decide what services they want, they can apply for them online, and then the people will come visit them at their home to give them the documents for their services.
The market is growing at a tremendous rate. The Facebook responses we receive are massive and thousands of people demand for loans every single day. Of course, not everything is as simple as it sounds. There are also gaps in the market. Most banks just don’t have enough resources to tag along with every potential customer.
For example, if you’re a customer, you’re constantly looking for the best bank to get a credit card or loan, you are looking for banks that have lower rates and can give you more money, you want to know which loan is better for you perhaps. Not every bank can provide you with all these services, but by using our platform you can easily access all these information before you make a decision.
FINTECH: How did Bankcomparebd benefit from the GP Accelerator program?
M.T: The GP Accelerator program was initiated by Grameenphone in partnership with SD Asia. It is a platform for digital start-ups to find a foothold in the ICT Industry. GP and SD Asia selected aspiring startups, mentored them and provided them seed money to accelerate their businesses.
Moreover, by allowing us to have access to GP’s in-house facilities and PR support, we were able to gain an immense amount of exposure. The investment of Grameenphone and SD Asia for Bankcomparebd further helped us gain trust of potential banks, which became connected with us and our ideas
FINTECH: What were some of the initial challenges and hiccups that you faced?
M.T: Oh, as a startup, the challenges were many. At first, we reached out and sent proposals to almost every single bank. Not one of them responded back. Then when one bank tested us out for months and saw that they were being benefitted, they recommended us to other banks and soon they all began to follow.
In fact, our connected banks possess an impressive conversion rate on our leads. Thus, through bank to bank references we began to flourish, as banks began to realize that they were getting more leads through us with a lot less hassle, and a high success rate. We are connected with about six banks for now, but soon we plan to have more banks working us.
FINTECH: How do you procure authentic data from the banks?
M.T: The data we get from the banks that are connected with us are officially provided to us. The ones that aren’t connected to us have the information on their rates and services on their websites, and those are for public use. It’s in fact requested from the Bangladesh Bank that each bank regularly update their rates and service information online so it’s absolutely accurate.
When we first conceptualized and started developing our startup, we went to Bangladesh Bank to talk about our idea and ask if they had any objections to it. Since we were not directly dealing with money, they gave us the green signal. So with every bank we work with we make an agreement that they will provide us with regularly updated data, that these data are publically available, and that in case they advertise inaccurate or backdated data on their website and we use it, then that’s not to be held against us as we used information that they had published. This is all agreed upon from both our ends.
FINTECH: What’s your future plan?
M.T: We are still in between level 0 to level 1 in the financial technology market. It’s a big and ever growing platform that has a lot of untouched potential. We are focusing on those unchartered territories and trying to explore the maximum depths of the market. We plan to open a sales service center, especially in places like Sylhet, Chittagong, Khulna, and others probably. It’s due to give faster documentation service on these areas and being able to grab the market too. As far as employee satisfaction is concerned, compared to most startups, we are quite stable. ■