Zafar Imam, CEO, Finshell

Zafar Imam is the CEO at FinShell, a leading financial services brand that introduced smartphone-based financial services in India powering two platforms OPPO Kash & realme PaySa. Zafar is one of the co-founders of the company and he was the Chief Business Officer and a Director in the company since April 2019. Zafar has two decades plus of experience in consumer banking and FinTech space. He served at Axis Bank for more than 13 years and worked in different roles building the consumer finance business.


We are dwelling in a quite exciting phase in human history. The global business ecosystem is undergoing rapid changes, wherein the physical boundaries are fading faster than we can think. Everything continues to be more sophisticated, evolved, and time-efficient – as technology drives a majority of these changes.

So, it is quite natural for our financial world – which forms the very basis of day-to-day human exchanges – to experience such tectonic shifts as well. A new financial order has come to the fore. It goes by the name of FinTech. Now, financial transactions rely less on typical red-tapes and more on nimble algorithms. But how can investments and lending in a sharing economy supercharge this promising segment?

Sharing Economy: The building blocks of a hyper-efficient financial system

To begin with, most financial transactions are driven by the need to conduct an exchange. It is usually an exchange of products or services amongst at least two parties, i.e. the provider and the receiver. An economic value is designated to the said product or service and the trade-off takes place. Regardless of whether you are purchasing a house, applying for a new line of credit, or booking a vacation abroad, all systems are overall comparable and fall within these guiding principles. Simply put, people (or entities) associate, they establish trust, and then they partake in some form of exchange.

In the financial world, the greater part of such exchanges takes place through representatives such as banks. However, new FinTech startups are redefining the ecosystem from the ground level up. Utilizing innovation instead of institutional gravitas, they have been making significant contributions to the ecosystem

Such innovations are further being supported by an ever-increasing influx of technology. For instance, more FinTech players are incorporating blockchain technology to ensure the infallibility of their datasets. Blockchain is known to eliminate data manipulation from the system. It also paves the way for real-time authentication of multi-party interactions, thereby eliminating third parties from the economic value chain. So far, banks and other traditional FIs have held exclusive rights in this space. Now, their status is getting tested by such innovative, tech-driven, and disruptive business models.

To set everything straight, we should extensively characterize how a future sharing economy would reflect in our financial transactions. In different business sectors, for example, ride-sharing or room-leasing, sharing-economy-based market players keep finding new uses for existing resources as in the case of Uber and Airbnb. In doing so, they redirect market interest by leveraging innovation.

In our context, synergies between banks and FinTech organizations could mark the rise of a whole new business opportunity under the sharing economy. Open banking can unlock avenues for all stakeholders including the banks, FinTech players, and their end-customers. The latter sets up a more extensive biological system of banks and FinTech organizations, wherein banks benefit from the technological ingenuity of startups while startups benefit from a large pool of customers and extensive banking data to backtest their algorithms.

When this ecosystem is set up, banks and fintech organizations can work together symbiotically. The following are the 5 pointers that sum up the idea of a FinTech-oriented sharing economy:

  • Quickly developing, time-efficient, and open market
  • Adjusting itself as per macroeconomic and microeconomic data points, primarily rooted in human reasons and importance
  • Technology increasingly eliminates obstructions to confiding in individuals or new companies
  • More noteworthy degrees of development, client centricity, and nimbleness to change
  • Diminished costs

In a nutshell, the sharing economy can extend far-reaching benefits to everyone from banks and FinTech platforms to the broader market at large. So, let us eagerly wait and watch how it transforms our financial world in its all-new avatar.

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