As plans go, it was a great one. On 21 May, roughly two months after India imposed one of the strictest Covid-19 lockdowns the world has seen, a disruptive new fintech platform was to be unveiled. One that would run like electricity through the country’s financial system. “Sahay” (in Hindi, “help”), an ambitious online lending marketplace, would be targeted at the hundreds of thousands of Indian micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Sahay, India’s fintech disruption sequel
Conceptualised and promoted by iSpirt, the powerful behind-the-scenes organisation run by volunteers, Sahay would enable hundreds of thousands of Indian MSMEs to access loans in as few as five minutes. The story of how it was built is more important than why its 21 May launch was canned
After Aadhaar and UPI, Sahay was going to be India’s next big mass-scale tech intervention
It had the same actors as UPI—JUSPAY, Aadhaar’s architect Nandan Nilekani, think tank iSpirt...
...and the same issues— of conflicts of interest, early access, ownership and accountability
In addition, the organisation meant to evangelise flow-based lending also means to become self-regulatory