JPMorgan funds fintech effort for India's poorest

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JPMorgan Chase is sponsoring a new effort to develop fintech that will help India’s underserved communities.

The bank is helping launch a $9.5 million lab which will focus on early-stage fintech startups working on addressing the needs of low- and middle-income consumers in India that earn $2 to $10 a day.

The lab is being launched with the help of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, the bank announced on Tuesday. The lab is part of IIMA-CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative, which launched in May and aims to incubate and support startups developing technologies that affect livelihood, financial inclusion, health and education.

JPMorgan will put $7 million over the next four years towards the initiative — the largest philanthropic commitment made by the bank outside of the U.S. The bank is joined by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which are also supporting the lab as a part of an overall commitment to the Bharat Inclusion Initiative.

The lab will draw insights from the JPMorgan-funded Financial Solutions Lab, a five-year program launched in the U.S. in 2014 and managed by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

“India’s vision of creating digital technology driven access to financial services will be incomplete unless we bring these offerings to the lower and middle income segments who are in urgent need of these financial products and services,” Kalpana Morparia, CEO for South and Southeast Asia of JPMorgan, said in a press release.

“Our initiative aims to identify and nurture fintech start-ups to generate innovative ideas which will help make financial products and services more accessible to this critical mass of Indians," Morparia added in her statement. "JPMorgan’s Financial Solutions Lab model is being introduced outside of the U.S for the first time. We are pleased to collaborate with CIIE’s Bharat Inclusion Initiative to help establish it in India.”

Research from consulting firm MicroSave and the institute will also guide the initiative.

“Over 80% of [India's lower and middle income] market, or 470 million people, are not integrated into the economic mainstream," said Anil Gupta, associate director of MicroSave, in the release. "Early stage fintechs, when provided with the right mentoring, insights and capital support, can have a huge and positive impact on the lives of many people."

The lab will host a series of accelerator programs to identify solutions for specific financial challenges, and leading ideas will be supported with start-up capital, market access, technical assistance, mentoring and sector expertise. Fintech entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply.

“The Financial Inclusion Lab is a critical component of the Bharat Inclusion Initiative continuum and will build upon CIIE’s decade long experience of running incubators, accelerators and impact funds to provide inclusion focused tech entrepreneurs the comprehensive support required to turbocharge their journeys,” Priyanka Chopra, chief operating officer of CIIE, said in the press release.

“We are excited to partner with J.P. Morgan to create access and opportunity for more people to join the financial mainstream by unlocking entrepreneurial energy.”

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