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Maharashtra govt launches accelerator to create fintech hub in Mumbai

Maharashtra govt launches accelerator to create fintech hub in Mumbai
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Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has set the ball rolling to create a fintech hub in Mumbai by launching an accelerator programme in the sector backed by the state government. 

The programme, unveiled in the city on Saturday, will be a public and private partnership between the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), PayU, Fino Payments bank, IndusInd Bank, IndiaFirst Life Insurance Company and CRIF. It aims to provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to startups along with technical support. 

Since it was first announced in September, the programme has received about 200 applications out of which 13 startups have been shortlisted for the debut cohort. The shortlisted startups are Bon Fleet, One Wallet, HuePay, Phi Commerce, GoPlannr, M2P, Microchip Payments, Monitree, Riskcovry, Finlok, Crelytics Loanvidya, FinVu and News4Use. The cohort will work closely with various stakeholders for three months and the programme will end with a pitch to investors on Demo Day. 

Further, the accelerator will provide startups access to benefits under the state’s fintech policy along with business integration opportunities with partner institutions. The accelerator programme will commence in the first week of December 2018. In addition to the startups selected for the first cohort, another 10 emerging firms were awarded a state grant of Rs 10 lakh. Those startups included Eduvanz, Swipez, Sevenring, CashRich, Digital Fifth, Rockmetric, Jai Kisan and HealthFin.

In February this year, Maharashtra became the first state in the country to launch a fintech policy. “The Government of Maharashtra will strive to nurture exceptional fintech firms that enable financial empowerment and technological advancement. The fintech policy has been operationalised to activate the startup ecosystem. The Government of Maharashtra is committed to directly work with these thirteen shortlisted fintech startups to foster next-generation innovation across the financial services ecosystem,” said Suniti Nanda, fintech officer, Government of Maharashtra. 

As part of the fintech policy, the government will facilitate the creation of a Rs 200-crore venture capital fund, provide extra floor space index to set up smart fintech centres and put in place a fintech corpus of Rs 250 crore to help the government achieve the objectives of the policy. The government said that a fintech startup with a turnover of at least Rs 25 crore would be eligible for assistance of up to Rs 10 lakh annually for three years, which will go towards reimbursing internet and electricity expenses, goods and services tax and expenses for participating in global exhibitions or similar events.

The government also unveiled a ‘regulatory sandbox’ to help fintech startups register and make their application programming interface (APIs) available to financial institutions. The regulatory sandbox would allow startups to test their technology under highly controlled but real-time conditions.

It also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Switzerland Global Enterprise, an arm of the government of Switzerland, to enable Swiss and Indian startups to share their experiences with each other and explore partnerships to develop blockchain technology which is of interest to Switzerland.

“This is a step towards a more structured collaboration that we already had with the Government of Maharashtra. This accelerator would be of tremendous help for us to coordinate with all the contacts that we have with the government, companies and academic institutions. Our role is to bring expertise, share experiences and help startups in regulatory fields,” Othmar Hardegger, Consul General of Switzerland in Mumbai told TechCircle. It will also be an opportunity and exposure for Swiss startups to showcase their talent in the Indian market and share their expertise, he added.

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