Bengaluru: Lending startup Rupeek, which operates an online marketplace for gold loans, has disbursed loans worth 1,000 crore since its launch three years ago, its chief executive, Sumit Maniyar, said in an interview.

The Bengaluru-based startup, which is processing loans worth 125 crore every month, intends to expand into other asset-backed loan products in the near future, said Maniyar. The startup is able to reach this figure without any brick-and-mortar store, unlike its traditional competitors such as Muthoot Finance and Manappuram Gold Loan, he said.

Rupeek offers gold loans at the customer’s doorsteps and completes the loan underwriting to disbursal process within 30 minutes. By cutting down on expenses by not running offline stores, Rupeek claims to offer gold loans at an interest of 0.89% per month.

“By eliminating offline stores, we were able to drive the interest rate down by 25-40% for the end borrower compared to the big gold loan providers…Big players have huge expenses operating brick and mortar stores and ultimately offload this cost on the customer with interest. We do not build any offline shops and because of the tech we are able to disburse right at your doorstep,” Maniyar said.

Rupeek, started in 2015 as an asset-backed lending marketplace, leverages digital know your customer and verification of customers using Aadhaar to quickly onboard, underwrite, and disburse the loan to a borrower’s bank within 30 minutes.

The startup uses social media and search engine marketing to advertise to potential customers, Maniyar said. “We acquire customers through Facebook, Google, JustDial, and Sulekha. We also have a referral programme that gives us a lot of leads,” he added.

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Sequoia and Accel backed Rupeek is one of the earliest tech startups to make inroads into the gold loan segment that is largely dominated by unorganized players and companies such as Muthoot Finance and Manappuram Gold Loans.

Indians have stocked an estimated 23,000 tonnes in gold and almost 40% of this is in South India alone, according to a 2018 KPMG India report. Non-banking financial companies such as Muthoot and Manappuram command 81% of the organized gold loan market, while other unorganized players, who are mostly unregulated, control around 40-60% of the gold transactions in India, the KMPG report said.

India imports 750 tonnes of gold annually without contributing to the GDP multiplier as most of it sits idle in the form of jewelry. Rupeek believes that gold loans can be an effective gold monetization mechanism.

The startup is present in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Coimbatore and Pune.

Rupeek also plans to expand its offerings across the asset-backed loans segment, which is yet to see large scale disruption by tech startups present in retail consumer loans.

Maniyar said his startup plans to launch property-backed loans, working capital loans for businesses, and a specialized online gold product targeted at salaried borrowers. “We plan to offer an overdraft limit or top-up loans product for these categories for these customers (salaried employees). Because we have built a repository of propriety (user) data to support this business model…this is where we want to start building our new loan book,” said Maniyar.





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