Catalyst FINposium 9

Event: Workshop on Innovation Partnerships with Financial Institutions
Date: October 26th, 2017
Location: Jaipur, India
Attendance: 57 participants representing 37 organisations


The 9th Catalyst FINposium was organised in association with the Department of Information Technology and Communications (DoITC), Government of Rajasthan (GoR), and brought together a confluence of government representatives, innovators, knowledge agencies for a deep-dive on enabling digital transactions between small merchants and low-to-middle income consumers.


  • Sharing insights, challenges and opportunities for digital
  • Deepening insights on digital payment solutions and sharing work ​from the Catalyst Digital Payments Lab in Jaipur, where we have been co-creating business ideas, solutions and models.
  • Providing a platform to various stakeholders for sharing insights, trends, challenges and implementation experiences from India’s digital finance and payment landscape especially for the last mile.
  • Showcasing partnerships and with key stakeholders in the financial inclusion space.


The key dignitaries at the inaugural session included Mr. Fernando Maldonado, Director Digital Finance, USAID, Dr. Hansraj Yadav, Additional Director, DoIT, Ms. Sharon Buteau, Executive Director, IFMR Lead and Mr. Punit Shukla, NITI Aayog.

Mr. Fernando Maldonado inaugurated the FINposium by reiterating the need for coordinated efforts with a result-driven approach to create a formal economy and achieve financial inclusion in India. In the Keynote Address, Dr. Hansraj Yadav outlined ongoing Government of Rajasthan (GoR) initiatives to facilitate bringing 5 lakh merchants on digital payments by March 2018. Emphasizing on the state government’s commitment to building a strong database to record Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) from the government to citizens as well as transactional information from a variety of distributors, Dr. Hansraj invited the partnership of lenders and solution providers in tapping into this data in the creation of targeted product and services.

Mr. Punit Shukla outlined NITI Aayog’s specific focus on creating a digital transformation index to identify how digitally enabled different states are in the current scenario, and the importance of this ranking in furthering e-governance and service distribution.


An overview of business models featured in Government of Rajasthan & Catalyst’s Digital Payments Lab partnership.

Presenter: Badal Malick, CEO, Catalyst

Making a detailed presentation about Catalyst’s work in Jaipur through its Digital Payment’s Lab, Badal Malick, CEO, Catalyst, highlighted the need for developing value beyond just transaction by using it as a stepping stone for people to access value adds like credit. “Context plays a very big role in terms of the behaviour of customers and merchants. We need to be mindful of the distinct needs and challenges for each while developing solutions,” he added. “Our fundamental goal is to create broader access to financial services through an ecosystem-based approach, and eventually empower communities that have been underserved by financial services.”


The event had exciting discussions centered around specific themes like merchant digitisation approaches, consumer digitisation through communication and engagement strategies, creative incentives, and relevant products to change behaviour and finance and technology solutions for the last mile.


The first panel discussion focused on sharing early insights from small merchant and distributor facing models rolled out in Jaipur by GoR, Catalyst and multiple partners. The discussion was centered around Merchant Digitisation approaches by targeting use cases to drive value and change behaviour. The panel included merchant-focused end users that shared the experience of their first-time use of different digital payment solutions

Moderator: Mr. Ashish Aggarwal, Consultant, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP)

Key Insights:

  • A key challenge to bringing retailers and distributors onto digital payment platforms are the concerns regarding security on linking bank account to an app and converting hard cash to digital.
  • Initiatives such as workshops and programs in digital literacy, and provision of incentives play an important role in closing the gap and encouraging adoption.
  • Merchants are now building their own credit history for customers to compensate for the lack of credible data from other players.
  • There is a strong need for a credit-enabled payment solution that seamlessly integrates the backend and frontend of transactions.


WIth all-star CEO panel, this session championed ‘#Fintech for the last mile’ solutions that addressed needs of underserved communities. Some of the shortlisted startups from the Catalyst Incubator ‘Fintech for the Last Mile’ incubator programme were showcased before the panel discussion, and interesting trends from the first cohort shared.

Moderator: Mr. Vivekdeep Gupta, Associate Director- Innovation and Partnerships at Catalyst

Key Insights:

  • Bank and insurance agents are important existing touch-points to leverage in reaching these households.
  • Consent architecture is yet to be put in place; while the consumer should ideally own data or digital footprint created, it is currently ‘owned’ by the co-creating company or data storage owner.


This panel discussion focused on consumer digitisation through communication and engagement strategies, creative incentives, and relevant products to change behaviour.
The need for creating an awareness journey and handholding processes that are rooted in the hyper-local context of the community were highlighted as a cross-cutting theme during the panel discussion.

Moderator: Mr. Parvinder Singh, Associate Director- Learning and Communications at Catalyst

Key Insights:

  • There is a strong need for inculcating online banking and transaction behaviour, especially amongst women.
  • Adoption and uptake of digital payments among the low income or underserved communities need a comprehensive campaign that informs and empowers early adopters to emerge as change agents.
  • The digital transaction narrative needs to be linked with wider financial inclusion.


The event was brought to a close with a discussion on the road ahead; with a focus on strategies and partnerships to support, sustain and scale successful solutions and business models. This session engaged key local institutions and service providers as well as donors to pave the way towards a less-cash Jaipur- and Rajasthan.

Moderators: Dr. Hansraj Yadav, Additional Director, Department of Information Technology, Govt. of Rajasthan, and Mr. Punit Shukla, NITI Aayog

Key Insights:

  • As behaviour change is a long-term exercise and hand-holding is an important aspect, there is a strong need for a joint education program on digital payments by state governments, banks and NPCI.
  • While the number of cheque and ATM transaction are plateauing, IMPS transactions are growing steadily and UPI platforms are witnessing exponential growth.

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