In light of reshaping the way SMEs engage with the finance sector, Mr. Gaurav Sharma, a fintech veteran with over two decades of experience across Asia in finance and technology at leading global banks, such as HSBC and Citibank, aims to disrupt traditional banking models and enable SMEs to redefine their relationship with the finance industry through simple, accessible credit and financing services. This will provide businesses with access to the finances and assistance they need to scale and grow effectively, which will help them reach greater heights than before, and in turn, contribute to the economy in their respective countries.
With that, Mr. Gaurav Sharma founded Atlantis Tech, a fintech firm in Singapore that offers responsible, transparent, and customized tools to empower them with economic freedom and the ability to focus on core business needs. Through offering credit lines as a service product to assist with their cash flow needs, Atlantis will mitigate the long process and requirements typically associated with traditional banks where loans are concerned. Atlantis' short term loans are built with industry competitive terms and standards, and are primed to assist SMEs directly in their financing needs.
Having launched Atlantis Tech in India with over 8,000 applicants on the waitlist, Mr. Gaurav Sharma commented that, "Atlantis Tech has engineered customer-first intelligent systems and design that will drive the future of banking. With no physical branches of a bank with all transactions and services performed digitally, we aim to play a leading role in driving the transition to 'self-driven finance' by providing SMEs with a smart, speedy, and easy to use, platform with an initial focus on India and South-East Asia".
Since 2015, more than 3 million Southeast Asians have gone online for the first time, contributing to the increase in the number of digital consumers and creating a thriving US$72 billion Internet economy. Part of this increase can be attributed to the young, enterprising, and increasingly connected population that calls the region home. Rife with opportunity and a young, ambitious population driven by innovation, the Southeast Asian economic powerhouse is powered by an important, but underserved group - small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
In Singapore, SMEs form a key pillar in the country's economy, contributing 48% of its GDP, employing about 65% of its workforce, and constituting 99% of all enterprises. Despite their potential, a major obstacle often faced by SMEs is the lack of adequate credit available to them. Securing loans or credit has traditionally been a challenge for SMEs – the absences of a stable and profitable portfolio is seen as a drawback by banks and financial institutions. Even before the pandemic, 61% of Singaporean SMEs held low credit standings, and not more than 15% in fast-growing economies had access to the credit they required. Furthermore, the additional delays in payments induced by the pandemic have only aggravated this lack of capital.
With the small business credit gap continuing to plague SMEs across Southeast Asian markets, the opportunity to fill that gap through data technology is an important step forward. As fintechs become increasingly relevant, traditional banks will need to recognise the value of the cloud and speed up their digital transformation efforts and plans to meet changing consumer needs. For SMEs in particular, cash-flow-as-a-service will become a reality, and their fintech partners will be able to integrate technology at the heart of each system and enabling them to have a virtual, private banker making financial decisions for them, allowing them to truly focus on growing their business.
This post originally appeared on Money FM 89.3.