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New Indian SME Digital Bank Open Readies for Launch

Open calls itself “Asia’s first SME neo-banking start-up” and is using the same business model as Tide in the U.K. and Finnish startup Holvi (recently acquired by BBVA).

With its launch date in sight, the bank has received $250,000 from PayU India’s CEO Amrish Rau, and Jitendra Gupta, MD at PayU India.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs have started moving to app-based banking, and Open offers a whole range of services. Anish [Achuthan—Open’s CEO and co-founder] himself has been in the fintech space for a long time and knows the sector very well,” said Rau.

The bank has been founded by “serial fintech entrepreneurs” Achuthan and Mabel Chacko, and like many others around the world they are looking to “disrupt the traditional business banking space” by offering API-driven digital banking. Open is inviting people to sign up on its site for the beta launch.

The bank says its key features include a digital business account that can be activated within five minutes using a fully digital onboarding process. This account comes with integrated GST (India’s Goods and Service Tax) compliant invoicing, book keeping, payments, and a credit line that’s available on desktop and mobile app.

“With an increasing number of SMEs out of [India’s] 51 million SMEs going online, traditional business banking services are not able to address the growing needs of millennial entrepreneurs,” Achuthan said.

According to its site, Open’s banking services are provided in partnership with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Open says it has also partnered with unnamed nonbanking financial companies and GST providers for unspecified services on its platform.

Achuthan and Chacko say they have more than a decade of experience in building startups – such as branchless-banking startup Cashnxt (2009), NFC-payment startup Neartivity (2011), and developer payment platform Zwitch (2014). The latter was acquired by Citrus Pay last year.

Prior to founding Open, Anish was vice president for new initiatives and business heading at Citrus Pay and PayU. Chacko was head of marketing and SMB acquisition for Citrus Pay and PayU. Open has 12 staff based out of Bangalore and Mumbai.

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