Branchx: Banking For Bharat

Sajid Jamal, Co-Founder & CEO,   & Rajesh Johnny, Co-founder

Sajid Jamal, Co-Founder & CEO

& Rajesh Johnny, Co-founder

Although migration plays an important role in the socio-economic lives of economies, the financial needs of migrants are restricted to remittances. Unreliable, expensive, and insecure channels of remittances and traditional savings have inhibited migrant households’ ability to utilize their earnings to save and create wealth.

The Bharat migration to cities is no different. Closer observation reveals that people who move to the city for work earn fair wages and send those wages back to their families in villages. Because this money does not enter the mainstream economy, it does not circulate and keeps migrant workers poor. It also prevents them from taking advantage of financial products that would have otherwise provided them with multiple streams of income and greater economic opportunities.

The specific financial needs of migrants and their households at different stages of their life cycle are not addressed by existing banking models nor adequately built into solutions surrounding financial wellness of migrants. While NBFCs and other lending organizations focus on the rural areas, only a few leverage the potential of digital tools to empower the migrants with relevant financial products. branchX is disrupting this space by delivering empathetic banking using intelligent technologies for underbanked communities.

Due to the tendency of our customers to use cash, financial products that are mostly digital go untouched in their lives. Pradhan Mantri JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) is a welcome avenue for a large part of the population who had no access to banking services. branchX works as a catalyst to JAM, at pace, with this national goal to embrace the migrant workers into the security of financial services.

branchX is focused on a ‘hand-holding grid’ which allows under banked users to access and leverage banking services digitally. This vision goes beyond financial inclusion to maximize their financial wellness and build a better future for themselves and their families.

The Journey to Inception
After working in the Middle East for several years, Sajid and Rajesh Johnny (his co-founder at branchX) moved to India, where they convinced their cofounders Ankur Gupta and Rahul Das and their first investor Dr. Sindhu Bhaskar to join them in creating a platform that would transform the Indian remittance industry. Rajesh explains how he observed a vacuum in terms of innovation, "The remittance space was more trade-centric, physical than customer centric", he says. The group, while brainstorming, also observed the absence of data or records in the current migrant remittance industry; it seemed as though this huge earning cohort sending $20 billion in remittance is invisible to the economy. branchX was created to change this perspective by bringing the invisible remitter to the fore. “We wanted to change this invisible persona of this hard worker who comes from the village, toils, and
sends back his hard-earned money back home," says Rajesh. This gap is now bridged by branchX that caters to banking needs of the whole family.

With a humongous population depending on the remittance sector, branchX's founding members realized that even if a fourth of the population adopted efficient and user-friendly financial products, the impact could be far-reaching. This conviction was further strengthened by IITian and ex GE banker Afzal Modak, who brought in necessary seed capital to accelerate the journey toward making banking accessible to millions. His understanding of BaaS frameworks and API economy was a shot in the arm. Supporting this journey was their other angel Lav Chaturvedi, CEO of Reliance SmartMoney.

Xenie, more than just a Bot
branchX's Xenie, an AI-powered super-algorithm, and customers' friendly financial assistant provides the hand holding needed to solve the problem of financial education for the underbanked. Xenie is an animated bot that pops up when one opens the branchX mobile app. The bot then proceeds with asking a few questions based on the customer's needs and goals. Accordingly, Xenie provides financial learning and identifies solutions. Xenie’s response to users' problems will be evolved and learned over the years through an ML based learning technology. This educative AI Bot is evolving from its current FAQs based conversations to an intelligent algorithm that can continuously engage with the customer, respond with 'empathy' to financial problems, and use the data in turn to help customers arrive at smart money decisions. A customer who comes from a humble financial background may be skeptical to trust an app to handle their hardearned money. branchX reassures customers that Xenie can be their go-to for any money related queries.

branchX's Xenie, an AIpowered super-algorithm, and customers' friendly financial assistant provides the hand holding needed to solve the problem of financial education for the underbanked

Financial future is an All-Encompassing Grid
branchX leverages the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) concept to launch its own BIGJAM. This is a grid wherein, the card works as a bank, the app as a ledger or a passbook, and Xenie serves as a digital assistant. This grid is intended to help customers engage with the app on a continuous level and benefit financially.

As their first product launch, branchX offers a card innovation specifically designed for the Indian domestic migrant - Raja Rani Rupay Cards, a two-card combo that serves the whole family, assisted by the branchX app. Xenie, branchX's friendly AI assistant, makes it easy for customers to enter the digital economy efficiently and diligently. The result is not just that the underserved have joined the ranks of those who have access to digital banking they are also better able to manage their and their families finances, all in one place!

Value - driven growth
branchX is a team of Xenies, physical manifestation of the digital assistants highly passionate & innovation driven people interconnected through a shared value; empathy. The firm further intends to instill this value to its agents & partners. Empathetic banking should be the new normal. "Fifty rupees or five hundred, every penny and its bearer should be respected and taken seriously. Most migrants come from villages to work in the city and clear their debts in the village. They have more than $50 billion at their disposal annually and mostly spend in cash. We want them to enjoy the benefits of the mainstream economy and increase their wealth. Every hard earned income is to be treated emphatically," concludes Ankur and Rahul, co-founders of branchX.

branchX is a good example for FinTechs that want to penetrate the Indian market beyond the 10 crores affluent Indians. Last year, through branchX, 3 million Indian migrants did $400 million worth of transactions reaching 6.2 million beneficiaries. Armed with intelligent technologies and a smiling Xenie, they are definitely onto something huge with such a large customer cohort working hard to make the country's post-covid economic recovery sustainable!