Javed Tapia, Founder, Slonkit,
is a member of the managing committee of Catalysts of Social Action (CSA) Catalysts for Social Action which is an Indian NGO (non-governmental, social development organization) that exists to fulfil the mission of creating a brighter future for children who have lost both their parents at a very early age and need care, protection and education. He has also won the Alumni Impact Award from Duke University.
In an interview with Shweta Papriwal, Editor, indiainfoline.com
, Javed Tapia, said, “Slonkit will give a wholesome experience with respect to money and finance to its users in the years to come.
How does the Slonkit platform help parents and teenagers set & track budgets and monitor expenses incurred on a day-to-day basis?
Slonkit, the flagship brand of Sienna Systems Resources Pvt. Ltd, is India’s first money management app that enables teenagers and young adults to manage money smartly. Slonkit app is linked to a prepaid VISA/Rupay card. Slonkit empowers parents to give allowances or pocket money to their teenaged children. They can download the Slonkit app from the Play Store or App Store and order their Slonkit cards through the mobile app.
Slonkit enables parents to set budgets for their teenaged children using the Slonkit mobile app. The budgets can be apportioned across spend categories such as food, shopping, entertainment, travel, etc. The expenses made by children across categories and as per apportioned budgets is displayed in neat visual representation to create an enjoyable experience of learning to manage money smartly.
What was the rationale behind Slonkit and the company’s growth trajectory so far?
Slonkit is built with the objective of creating a financially prudent young India. We are a young country and a financially prudent population will be the bedrock for economic growth and prosperity of this country.
Slonkit endeavours to create India’s largest digital ecosystem connecting educational institutions to its “mobile-first” platform. This enables students to learn and practice the art of smartly managing money. We are expecting to see a million happy Slonkiteers on our platform in the next three years.
How does the platform work and could you highlight a few USPs of the app?
The platform is a completely safe and secure transaction avenue for students to practice digital payments and money management. With features such as budgeting, categorization of expenses, “value-buys” through our merchant partners, Slonkit aims to enable students and teenagers to realize the best value for their money.
By enabling children to hone their skills in managing money, Slonkit prepares students to understand areas such as investments, insurance, and credit at a much later stage. Slonkit will give a wholesome experience with respect to money and finance to its users in the years to come.
In this digital age, when security on such technology-driven platforms are a much talked about topic, how is Slonkit ensuring that its app is secure?
Firstly, we have very safe, secure and robust systems. We religiously follow the guidelines as mandated by our security experts and the industry’s regulatory and compliance norms. While our back-end systems are completely secure, we also ensure two-factor authentication for payments, and instant blocking of the Slonkit card through one click on the app in case the card is lost or stolen. With context to the card data, we have PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) which are a set of stringent guidelines to ensure a secure environment for storing, processing or transmitting card holder data. These measures have enabled us to keep a check on any irregularity and provide a seamless experience to our users.
Since you also have a college partnership program, can you shed some light on the Slonkit College Partnership Programme (SCPP) and the growth so far?
Slonkit, through its Slonkit College Partnership Programme (SCPP), is building India’s largest network of digital and cashless education institutions. Educational institutions that partner with Slonkit undertake a digital transformation journey. All their payment touchpoints are digitized, and the students enjoy a seamless experience across the campus using a Slonkit app and card.
Under SCPP, the educational institutes are also provided with a back-end module which can leverage the Slonkit mobile app to seamlessly communicate with students, remind them of fee payments, send broadcast communications, and generate reports on the payments made to in-campus merchants through the Slonkit app and card.
We are adding Universities (both state and central), private colleges and deemed universities across India. We should have over half a million students under the SCPP program by the end of 2020.
What is the current landscape of digital and cashless education across India?
After the government has launched the Digital India programme with a vision to transform the country into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, educational institutions are promoting the use of digital and cashless methods of payments to build the digital mindsets of the young audience. For instance, the CBSE board has advised all affiliated schools to go cashless. Schools and colleges have been instructed to carry out online transactions rather than cash exchange, from purchase orders to student fee collections, hostel payments to employee salaries. All these initiatives make the future for digital India look bright and attainable.
What are the challenges and learnings in building cashless campuses?
We do not see any challenges. It takes time for the educational institution to get familiarized with our objective and the importance of cashless campuses. Once we navigate this phase, we have seen that educational institutions are receptive and supportive of our endeavor.
There is a learning across each aspect of the way. Every campus is different in terms of how they collect fees, manage vendors, the payment touchpoints, and the advancements in terms of payment infrastructure, the internet speeds and bandwidth and so on. Every campus onboarded by us under SCPP enlightens us with a lot of learnings about the Indian education ecosystem as a whole.
What according to you is the correct age to introduce money management and financial awareness in children?
I would like to answer it in one phrase – “The earlier, the better”. Parents need to devise their own methods to induct their children into learning about managing money. I am sure it will yield rich dividends.
What are your views on overall financial literacy?
I think we have made remarkable strides in this area, but we still have a long way to go. The enhancement of overall financial literacy in India will depend on our ability to leverage the increasing penetration of smartphones in the country to ensure last mile reach of financial literacy courses and fintech products.