Anil Khanna, Managing Director & Group CEO, Vakrangee,
has 40 years of experience in various industries. He has proven his capabilities in leading his team to achieve exceptional business results. He is a graduate from St Stephen's College, Delhi and holds an MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from UBS, Chandigarh.
In an interview with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com
, Anil Khanna
said, “Vakrangee is one such company which has been at the forefront in financial and digital inclusion space in India”.
What are the current products and services offered by your company?
Vakrangee is a unique technology driven company focused on building India's largest network of last-mile retail outlets to deliver real-time banking services, financial services, ATM, insurance, e-governance, e-commerce and logistics services to the unserved rural, semi-urban and urban markets. The Assisted Digital Convenience stores are called as “Vakrangee Kendra” which acts as the “One-stop shop” for availing various services and products under one roof.
Our range of services include:
Banking services (Real time, Biometric enabled, Paperless Banking)
Money Transfer & Loan Products
Assisted E-Commerce (Online shopping / Online Pharmacy)
Mobile Recharge / DTH Recharge
Insurance products (Life / General / Healthcare)
Courier Booking services
E-Governance services (Bill payments)
Bus / Rail Ticket Booking services
At present what is the reach of Vakrangee across the country?
Vakrangee currently has 3,504 Exclusive Nextgen Vakrangee Kendra's spread across 19 states, 366 districts and 2,186 postal codes. More than 68% outlets are from Tier 5 and Tier 6 cities. The company has tied up with reputed partners spread across respective verticals to offer its customers best-in-class services and products. Our company has been at the forefront in financial and digital inclusion space in India.
What are future expansion plans and long term vision for the company?
Vakrangee aims to be the most trustworthy Physical as well as Online Convenience Store across India. We intends to become India’s No. 1 retailer by offering innovative ideas and proven modern technologies for facilitating universal financial, digital and social inclusion.
Our planned target is to reach at 75,000 outlets by FY2021-22 and further to 3,00,000 outlets by FY2022- 23, thereby covering each and every postal code of the country. We will keep expanding this network, until we are in close proximity to the last excluded person within the country.
BJP led government’s key priority areas have been financial and digital inclusion, what is the current expectation and what trends do you see playing forward?
Since 2014, the Modi regime has had a clear focus on financial inclusion and there have been many key initiatives such as Jan Dhan Yojna, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of subsidies directly into the bank accounts, affordable Micro Insurance schemes such as Atal Pension Yojna, Jeevan Jyoti Bima yojna and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima yojna. Demonetisation and direct benefit transfer (DBT) have been key drivers for increasing the banking penetration in the country. Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY) initiative, overall more than 35 crore bank accounts have been opened and saving balance of more than Rs 98,000 crore has been generated.
With the renewed mandate that the government has received, there would now be a clear focus and strategy for achieving the financial and digital inclusion across the country.
Some of the key pointers in the recently released BJP’s election manifesto include access to banking to every individual and banking services to be available within 5 km of every individual. Further focus is on promoting the digital transactions and also enable the digital delivery of government services.
Key highlights on financial & digital Inclusion:
Ensure every citizen has access to a bank account
Ensure the availability of banking services within 5 kms of every individual
Promote and increase digital transactions
Enable digital delivery of government services
Vakrangee is one such company which has been at the forefront in financial and digital inclusion space in India. This deep penetration at affordable cost is possible only with effective use of technology and therefore over the next few years, we expect players like us with strong execution and technology capabilities are set for large scale expansion and would help the government achieve their vision.
Your business seems to have a huge social impact with a key focus on rural India. Can you explain how your business plays a key role in social inclusion and how it benefits the society at large?
At Vakrangee, we view our commitment to Environment and Society as part of our responsibility to clients, shareholders, communities and the environment in which we operate. Responsible and sustainable development of corporate resources is fundamental to the company’s overall strategy. The ESG factors are embedded in our operations as our strategic priorities and in key strategic drivers.
Key Sustainable Development Goals being achieved through our unique business model:
A. Social Inclusion
a. Enhancing Skill-Sets: Our business model facilitates skill enhancement. We take ordinary individuals and train them with required skill-sets that helps them yield remarkable results. There is basic certification needed for rendering banking and insurance services, thereby enhancing his/her skill-sets.
b. Job Creation: Our business model is pure franchisee based, who preferably is a locally present. In addition, each franchisee employs minimum of 1-3 resources, creating employment opportunities and financial stability. Our business model thus creates a ripple effect in the larger society.
B. Financial Inclusion
We provide access to basic banking and insurance services. We also enable transfer of Government subsidies directly into the bank accounts of citizens through the Government’s Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme of the Government. With the potential financial inclusion of a larger section of the society responsible for more than half of India’s GDP, the Indian economy can be further enlarged and energised. We call this the “Vakrangee Effect” Digital.
C. Digital Inclusion
We are taking digital literacy to the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid and act as the last-mile link to connect India’s unserved and under-served Rural and Urban citizens by offering them with biometric-enabled Banking and e-Commerce services at our Kendras. We provide the same products and services to India’s urban and rural population at affordable prices at the same time and of the same quality.
D. Sustainable Development – Equality
We are the greatest human equalisers of life, bridging the gap between India’s urban and rural population. Our Next Gen Vakrangee Kendras are totally in sync with our theme “Ab Poori Duniya Pados Mein” in literal sense. Our Kendras are essentially “One Stop Shop Convenience Stores”, offering the urban and rural citizens goods and services at the same price, same time and of the same quality.
E. Sustainable Development — Economic Growth
We provide decent work opportunities to people – opportunities to get work that is productive, with stable and well- paid jobs. The work also delivers a fair income, security at the workplace, social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration. Our franchisees create localised work opportunities by hiring resources and also leading to skills development, with certification for banking and UIDAI services. We make people contribute to India’s economic growth to achieve fair globalisation and poverty reduction.
F. Sustainable Development - Building Resilient Infrastructure
We are building resilient infrastructure and fostering technology innovation through realtime paperless biometric-enabled banking. Inter-operable banking is also being achieved by connecting the core banking servers of major banks. We also leverage our technology platform to provide a one-stop solution and real-time access to over 100+ million products and 1,000+ services under a single roof.
G. Sustainable Development – Environmental Impact
a. Reducing Carbon Footprint: Vakrangee Kendras are contributors in reducing carbon footprint. We provide banking services, insurance products, e-Governance services, logistics services and e-Commerce products and services. We serve as a “onestop solution” to customers by offering them a bouquet of products and services within walking distance, thereby saving on time and fuel cost.
b. Use of Disruptive Technology: We make use of disruptive technology such as e-KYC, inter- operability and real-time transactions and use of advanced features such as paperless banking, real-time banking and use of biometric evaluation results in environmental impact.
H. Clean Water and Sanitation
Every Vakrangee Kendra has an arrangement of a water cooler providing drinking water facilities to people, free of cost. Since 70% of Vakrangee Kendras are centred in Tier 5 and Tier 6 cities, we are thus creating clean water drinking facilities in remote areas.
There have been recommendations of the high-level committee lead by Nandan Nilekani constituted by the RBI for deepening of digital payments. What have been the key take ways from these recommendations?
The Nandan Nilekani lead RBI's new committee has a clear focus on digital inclusion space, with a vision to ensure access to various digital services like availability of Financial Services, ATM, Cash in cash out network and Card payment POS. This augurs well from our company’s perspective and we stand to benefit substantially as we are well equipped and capable to deliver the same. Some of the key recommendations are as follows:
Financial Inclusion: The committee suggested the need to evolve BC agent to provide more services. At Vakrangee Kendra, our BC acts as a point of contact for banking and various other financial and consumer services.
The SLBC / DLCC / BLCC need to help ensure that no user is more than 5 KM away from a banking access point.
Cash in Cash Out network: With a view to increase digital transaction, the committee recommends strengthening of BC infrastructure. An architecture of Cash In/ Cash Out networks will include Bank Branches, ATMs, Business Correspondents, and POS devices.
No MDR charges for small value transactions - In order to ensure that small merchants continue to accept digital payments, the committee recommends that the Government continue the current scheme to refund the Merchant Discount Rate for small value transactions (under Rs 2000) beyond December 2019 for another two years. This is again set to benefit Vakrangee, as most of our transactions are rural focused and are small value transactions.
Card Payment POS: The committee recommends each merchant to support at least one digital mode viz Bharat QR, BHIM UPI QR or Cards. Every NextGen Vakrangee kendras already has a POS machine to accept digital payments.
ATM: Cost of ATM transactions are high due to compliance and operations cost. SCB’s are reducing investment in banks and act as a channel for customer education, awareness and support to promote digital transactions.