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After 15 months of being grounded, HDFC Bank announced recently that India’s central bank and regulator, the Reserve Bank of India, has lifted all restrictions on HDFC Bank’s digital operations. Triggered by recurring outages recurring outages The Ken Sorry for the inconvenience: Why your bank’s systems keep failing Read more in the bank’s tech operations, the restrictions included a temporary ban on issuing new credit cards as well as other plans the country’s largest private lender had under its Digital 2.0 programme. HDFC Bank had to scramble to put its house in order—and starring front and centre in its consumer-facing efforts is Zeta. 

Zeta is a seven-year-old banking technology firm that has previously worked with banks such as RBL Bank, Axis Bank, and IDFC First Bank, offering them pretty run-of-the-mill services. Like linking API API Application Programming Interface APIs are software intermediaries that allows two applications to talk to each other  packages to the banks’ fintech partners. Or putting in place a one-time password-based authentication system. With the HDFC project, however, Zeta has managed to snag one of the biggest fishes in the banking ecosystem. 

Zeta works with HDFC Bank’s digital factory unit—the side of the bank handling the consumer-facing processes and applications. Parag Rao, HDFC Bank’s country head for payments and digital banking, tells The Ken that Zeta’s work with the bank covers two main elements: rebuilding the bank’s PayZapp application, and building out a second credit-card issuance platform in addition to HDFC’s existing one. 

PayZapp has been an albatross around the bank’s neck for a long time. The Paytm*-like offering serves as a wallet for payments, which can be loaded using a credit card or debit card and has UPI functionality. It also enables a super app-like functionality by letting users pay utility bills, order food, and even purchase movie tickets. Though the app has over 10 million instals via Google’s India Play Store, user reviews have often flagged a buggy interface and slow performance. “Other apps are opens (sic) in blink of an eye. This PayZapp takes ages,” one reviewer wrote in February. Revamping PayZapp is core to HDFC Bank’s overhaul of its digital banking systems. 

The project has netted Zeta some very welcome attention from investors, raising around $280 million—over 80% of its total funds raised—since the deal. “In a gold rush, people said you should invest in shovels,” an investor in Zeta tells The Ken. According to the investor, while there are other firms working in the space as well, none of them have the scale that Zeta does.

AUTHOR

Jaspreet Kalra

Jaspreet covers banking, financial technology and digital assets. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Jaspreet has previously worked with CoinDesk and Bank Automation News. When unoccupied with work, he can be found pretending to read hardbacks while listening to stand-up specials.

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