Bengaluru: Akash Sinha has always had the proverbial entrepreneurial itch. From trying to build a social network for workplaces to running a portal that would match entrance exam scores with the qualifying institutions during his undergraduation, he has dabbled a fair bit into starting up to know how it works. “It’s always been about looking at the problems in the market and trying to solve them; that’s what you do as an entrepreneur,” he says. Sinha is now the co-founder and chief executive officer of Cashfree, a payments and banking technology company that primarily deals with enabling businesses across the country to collect and send money. Founded with Reeju Datta in 2015, the Bengaluru-based start-up has grown significantly over the years. Backed by Y-Combinator and incubated by global payments firm PayPal, the company’s services are now used by well-known consumer internet brands such as Dunzo, Nykaa and Milaap. Last year, it raised upto a $5.5 million Series A round led by South Korean venture capital firm Smilegate Investment.
Early Days: Cashfree may be solving for the online payments space right now but it didn’t quite start that way. “In hyperlocal, if you ordered via cash on delivery, you couldn’t pay digitally when the delivery executive came back to then, so we built an app where, before he came, you would get a link to pay via any of the digital modes – credit cards, debit cards and net banking,” says Sinha. According to him, it was a fairly novel idea back then, and they had managed to partner with close to 300 offline stores in Bengaluru, but as a start-up in its formative days, the idea was difficult to scale. At the time, the company interacted with many online businesses as well and that’s when Sinha and Dutta figured that there existed a payments collection problem in the online space. Within six months, the company had changed its course, going full-throttle into pushing the bar higher for online payments.
What It Offers:
Over time, the company has grown to expand the suite of products that it offers. One of its early offerings and something that Sinha believes gave them a competitive advantage was solving for bulk payouts. “They (merchants) had an automated way of collecting payments, but when you had to pay money back to your customers or your vendors, that process was largely manual, to do it scale took a lot of manpower making it cumbersome and open to errors, so we saw an opportunity there and caught hold of it.” Cashfree then built and started offering a single platform in 2017 where merchants could collect and disburse money automatically. This feature really pushed things forward for the company in a big way, according to Sinha. Another feature that the company introduced was instant refunds, which it claims was a first for a payment gateway. Apart from bulk payouts and instant refunds, some of the other features that the company now offers include pre-authorization where one can block funds are temporarily and debit the amount on fulfilment, subscriptions which have recurring payments via e-mandate and instant settlements.