Revolutionizing FinTech: Sarvjeet Virk Unveils Finvasia's Journey, AI Integration, and Global Expansion Plans

Revolutionizing FinTech: Sarvjeet Virk Unveils Finvasia's Journey, AI Integration, and Global Expansion Plans
Sarvjeet Singh Virk: Co-founder and Managing Director of Finvasia
StartupTalky presents Recap'23, a series of in-depth interviews where we engage with founders and industry leaders to explore their growth in 2023 and their predictions for the future.

The fintech sector, a dynamic fusion of finance and technology, is transforming conventional banking and financial services. Digital payments, blockchain, and robo-advisors are changing the way we handle financial transactions. Emerging companies in this field concentrate on delivering easy-to-use interfaces, streamlined transactions, and tailored financial services.

The worldwide online trading market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.4%, reaching approximately $13.3 billion in 2026 from $10.21 billion in 2022. Additionally, the payments industry aims for a transaction volume of $100 trillion and $50 billion in revenue by 2030.

In a recent Recap'23 interview, we at StartupTalky had the privilege of connecting with Sarvjeet Virk, Co-founder and MD of Finvasia. We delved into how Finvasia's innovation is reshaping the fintech landscape, examining its progress, challenges, key insights, and future strategies.

StartupTalky: What service does Finvasia provide? What was the motivation/vision with which you started?

Sarvjeet Virk: Finvasia, founded by my brother Tajinder and me, is a technology-driven company with Shoonya as our flagship brand in India. Shoonya, our innovative multi-asset investment platform, follows a zero-commission model, eliminating fees such as commissions, clearing, and technology charges. Our commitment to affordability and accessibility led us to break away from traditional brokerage fee structures. Despite the challenges, our tech-first approach enabled us to achieve a zero-trading experience efficiently.

A decade ago, during our time in the US, we identified challenges in the Indian capital market, particularly high brokerage fees for foreign investors. This realization prompted us to establish Finvasia, aiming to revolutionize the financial services sector with cutting-edge, real-time solutions for investors of all experience levels. Subsequently, Shoonya was developed to address these challenges.

Coming from backgrounds in both technology and finance, we envisioned leveraging technology to simplify finance for everyone. Initially operating as a Foreign Portfolio Investor (FII) in India, Finvasia's rapid growth led to the creation of Shoonya. By identifying market pain points, we designed Shoonya as a true-zero brokerage platform, making trading accessible and affordable for investors and traders.

StartupTalky: What new services have been added in the past year? What is/are the USP/s of Finvasia?

Sarvjeet Virk: We are dedicated to enhancing our services through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) to offer seamless investing and trading experiences. In line with this commitment, we introduced 'I Know First' in 2023 – an AI-powered tool empowering users with insights like signal analysis on a dataset of 1,500 Indian stocks and historical data. This tool provides access to AI-generated forecasts, along with features such as Colour-Coded Signals, Instant Heatmaps, Wave Trend Predictions, and Performance Predictions, enabling well-informed decisions.

Traditionally, comprehensive data and insights were accessible only to seasoned professionals, but Shoonya is changing the game by making these available to retail investors. This democratizes the trading process, thanks to the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies like AI and ML for an enhanced trading experience.

Furthermore, Shoonya stands out as the only true-zero brokerage platform in India. As a clearing and trading member, we offer the lowest cost to trade for retail investors. With approximately 16 services provided at no charge, including account opening and maintenance, we ensure transparency without hidden fees. This distinguishes us significantly from the competition, as users are not burdened with fees for each transaction.

Sarvjeet Virk: Staying informed about the latest trends and developments within the industry is crucial. From newspapers and news channels to social media platforms, I rely on different channels to stay up-to-date on emerging trends. I keep a close eye on reports that delve into past reviews and future projections, particularly on the financial market, capital market, and technology. Staying proactive keeps me well-informed and prepared to navigate the dynamic landscape. Also, I spend time on various Industry reports that give current and future perspectives.

StartupTalky: What were the most significant challenges Finvasia faced in the past year, and how did you overcome them?

Sarvjeet Virk: In 2023, we navigated through a year of challenges and opportunities. While it was generally a successful year for us, we faced an unexpected technical issue on our trading platform in April. Thanks to the quick response from our technical team, we promptly addressed and resolved the issue. In line with our commitment to providing an exceptional customer experience, we covered losses totaling Rs 3 crore. Our top priority remains ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining their trust. This action reflects our unwavering dedication to our vision and brand values.

StartupTalky: What are the different strategies you use for marketing? Tell us about any growth hack that you pulled off.

Sarvjeet Virk: Our marketing approach aligns with SEBI's advertising guidelines for the finance sector, ensuring transparency and empowering users to make informed decisions. With a primary focus on digital channels, we effectively utilize social media and various platforms to engage diverse user groups, resulting in substantial growth. In November, we experienced a significant surge in new users, consistently ranking among the top 20 brokers for adding active clients monthly. The year 2023 marked an impressive 150% year-on-year growth attributed to our impactful digital marketing strategies.

To further enhance user knowledge, we regularly share educational and informative content on our social media channels. Additionally, we are in the process of establishing an education portal on our platform catering to both beginner and advanced users.

StartupTalky: What opportunities do you see for future growth in the fintech industry in India and the world? What kind of difference in market behavior have you seen between India and the world?

Sarvjeet Virk: We witnessed a notable rise in the prominence of artificial intelligence (AI) in 2022, and its influence continued to grow globally in 2023. Looking forward to 2024, we anticipate that AI will evolve into a mainstream phenomenon, with a diverse range of applications becoming more prevalent. In the upcoming year, a significant development is expected in the integration of AI across various regional languages, aiming to achieve genuine last-mile reach. While complete coverage may be an ambitious goal, I believe initial steps will be taken to make this vision a reality.

The market dynamics in India have undergone a noticeable shift, especially in terms of capital market participation. Traditionally, there was a hesitancy among Indian individuals and businesses to actively engage in the capital markets. However, internet accessibility has brought a significant change in this trend. The widespread availability of online platforms has empowered more people in India to explore and participate in capital markets, marking a departure from past reservations.

Substantial differences emerge when comparing the capital market participation between India and other global players like China and the United States. As of 2023, the United States dominates the world stock market, accounting for nearly 60% of its total value, followed by Japan and the United Kingdom. In contrast, India represents a relatively modest 1.8% of the total global equity market value. At Shoonya, we are working towards enabling more users to participate in the capital market.

StartupTalky: What lessons did your team learn in the past year, and how will these inform your future plans and strategies?

Sarvjeet Virk: The introduction of I Know First on our platform has garnered a positive response from users, highlighting its value. Recognizing the pivotal role AI will play in the near future, our office is currently experiencing a significant surge in AI-related initiatives. We've proactively initiated group learning sessions for the entire team, immersing them in the vast potential of AI. The enthusiasm within the team is palpable, and this collaborative learning approach has rapidly enhanced our understanding and application of AI in real-world scenarios. Beyond being educational, it's an engaging and thrilling journey for all of us.

StartupTalky: How do you plan to expand the customers, service offerings, and team base in the future?

Sarvjeet Virk: Finvasia has recently achieved significant milestones, obtaining an NBFC license in India and an investment bank license in Mauritius. These licenses are crucial for our ultimate goal of financial inclusion. Our proactive efforts in the past year involved developing new products around these licenses, although specific outcomes are still in progress. We are working towards building a global business from India, and international licenses play a crucial role in this strategy.

Additionally, our focus on AI goes beyond the predictive feature. We're actively exploring additional ways to leverage AI to enhance the user experience. It ranges from enhancing onboarding journeys to in-app features. I’d like to save the details for when the features are live on the platform. 

Another notable achievement is the establishment of Finvasia's Mumbai office, complementing our existing base in Chandigarh. Our presence in the financial hub of the country aligns with a long-standing aspiration and contributes to our overall strategy for growth and expansion. As we look ahead, our focus remains on expanding our customer base, enhancing service offerings, and strengthening our team to further solidify Finvasia's position in the financial landscape.

StartupTalky: One tip that you would like to share with another service company founder?

Sarvjeet Virk: There isn't a one-size-fits-all formula for building a successful business. My suggestion to a fellow founder would be that what worked for others may not be the ideal path for you. Reflecting on our own experience, many doubted the feasibility of establishing a successful FinTech firm in a smaller city like Chandigarh. However, we remained steadfast in our convictions and have achieved considerable success. The essential takeaway is to ignore external skepticism, concentrate on your unique journey, and rely on hard work, determination, and learning from mistakes to navigate the path toward your goals.

StartupTalky extends its gratitude to Mr. Sarvjeet Virk for dedicating his valuable time and generously sharing his insights with all of us.

Explore more Recap'23 Interviews here.

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