The financial sector of India is going through a plethora of revolutions and innovations. Embedded finance is one of those innovations that has been a game changer for FinTech startups and upcoming businesses.
Over time, lending has been one of the most significant segments of the embedded finance domain. It is because establishing the business’s creditworthiness on digital platforms wasn’t easy in the past. But with the digital payments landscape booming in India, lending money to businesses is now easier as an embedded service.
One such approach in the modern financial landscape of India is OCEN (Open Credit Enablement Network). The primary objective of OCEN is to standardize and democratize credit line accessibility for small or medium-sized businesses.
In this article, you will get a deeper insight into the basic idea of OCEN in the consistently transforming financial sector of India, alongside its working and benefits.
General Understanding of OCEN (Open Credit Enablement Network)
OCEN India is better understood as a framework of multiple APIs, allowing borrowers to interact with lenders easily to get small credits. These loans can be intra-day or inter-day, depending on various factors, to help small businesses run their operations smoothly without a financial halt.
Moreover, the APIs by OCEN also create some innovative credit solutions to help both lenders and borrowers. This initiative enables transparent and efficient access to immediate credit funds by leveraging technology. The lenders using OCEN APIs have the liberty to provide services such as customized loan products and address the financial necessities of small businesses or individuals.
On the other hand, businesses or individuals can benefit from the initiative in several ways, such as:
- Availing loan offers from various lenders on a single platform.
- Get completely digital solutions for accepting credits or making repayments.
- Run a cash-flow-specific evaluation.
- Quicker turnaround time due to the simple process of application.
What are the Pain Points of Small Businesses that the OCEN Addresses?
The existence of OCEN India intends to solve a lot of complexities in the financial lending sector. Some of the pain points in the industry that the OCEN is developed to address include:
- Identification and categorization of the creditworthy borrowers.
- Increased cost associated with borrower acquisition.
- Expensive manual processes and custom integrations for connecting businesses with lenders.
- High turnaround time for the borrowers to get the loan amount credited to their accounts.
- Challenges associated with launching new financial products for the lenders.
- Limited outreach for MSMEs in India to immediate funds for maintaining the flow of business operations.
How is OCEN Democratising the Credit Access for MSMEs and Addressing the Pain Points?
Today, the OCEN is implementing some of the pilot projects across India. The official lending partners such as HDFC, ICICI, SBI, Axis, Bajaj Finserv, and IDFC FIRST bank are now part of OCEN to join this transparent credit rail. Not just that, but even the FinTechs have shown their acceptance of this integration. OkCredit and JustPay are among the few FinTech startups extending their contribution to the OCEN pilot projects.
So far, there has been a good response to the OCEN integrations, and the credit access facility is getting democratized on a stable note. It addresses the pain points in a way such that:
- The credits are processed for the MSMEs in just 5 minutes from a dedicated application.
- AA Frameworks are bundled with the use of OCEN APIs.
- The future of OCEN APIs would enable the use of intra-day small loans for smaller merchants and even for street vendors.
- OCEN has verified acceptance among stakeholders. The TSPs, including Apollo Finvest and Setu, have already integrated APIs to connect with OCEN.
- There is a prediction that more than 30 consumer-front companies will become lending service providers and integrate their services with OCEN. These companies are from sectors such as neobnks, khata apps, AgriTech firms, legal filing apps, and others.
Embedded finance is expected to increase the revenue for companies on a per-customer basis by 2x to 5x. OCEN India steps in to pave the path for companies to promote embedded lending solutions. This initiative is not entirely launched at its full potential yet! But once it gains momentum, MSME credit problems will be solved forever.
As per the RBI guidelines 2023, any authorized firm can disburse a loan of up to Rs. 60,000 in one year. The person borrowing the money should be registered as of the Aadhaar-OTP-based KYC process. Moreover, the data-sharing systems that were organization-centric in the past will become individual-centric.
Thus, it will promote the users’ control over data sharing across platforms. Financial institutions must now add value to their products through proper analysis and predictions based on available data to improve user accessibility.
What is the Anticipation of OCEN for the Future?
OCEN’s founding team has the vision to bring at least a billion people to the credit market. As India is working on a unique approach towards economic development with the public digital infrastructure, OCEN is the new addition to help the nation promote financial inclusion.
The government of India is providing citizens with digital infrastructure for better accessibility to many facilities and services. The private players leverage this opportunity to innovate and offer even better services. The standards associated with OCEN are currently open, making it easy for other countries to benefit from this architecture.
The institutional framework is to be designed for globalizing the OCEN standards and then apply the same to various markets facing similar pain points as India. But as far as Indian space is considered, OCEN will soon become the next massive disruption in the lending arena of the nation. The impact of it is anticipated to be similar to when UPI was introduced to the Indian market as a digital payment system.
Market innovations of such kind are becoming the foundations for budding entrepreneurs to create smart business ecosystems. With approaches like OCEN, businesses will have a stronger hand in consistently running their operations and helping not just the common population but the Indian economy.
OCEN is expected to be launching with its full potential soon. Once that happens, the financial experts claim, the entire lending process will be digitized, and money lending or borrowing facility will be accessible to almost everyone, especially small businesses.