EXCLUSIVE | Nitin Chavan, Aquapay: A year of defiance and innovation

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Nitin Chavan, CEO — Aquapay Payment Technologies Pvt Ltd, brings more than 20 years of diversified experience in the ecosystem of the payment industry, and is responsible for driving Aquapay’s growth strategy and delivering long-term value for the stakeholders.

In this exclusive piece, Chavan writes about how the collective human spirit has defied the utter despair during the lockdown, how Aquapay coped, the way forward for fintech  in 2021, and more.

Read on.


2020, without any doubt, was truly the most challenging year anyone I know can remember; perhaps in living human memory, and when the COVID19 pandemic broke out, it caught everyone unaware – when the lockdown was declared, people were startled and hoped things would open up soon.

But the pandemic-enforced lockdown persisted for people’s safety, and as the days turned into weeks and the first month rolled into the second, the initial ‘startlement’ gave way to what I saw as utter national shock and dismay. The lockdown took a vicious toll on lives, livelihoods, and businesses, pushing the collective consciousness against the proverbial wall of great despair.

Businesses and enterprises across travel, hospitality, aviation, the MICE industry, retail, and the public performance and events and exhibitions sectors, were virtually upended with grave losses in, and stoppage of revenues. The job- and work losses too severely hit consumer-spending.

However,  the collective human spirit broke through utter despair, as always, The challenges of the lockdown were met with a defiant surge of resoluteness  and empathy that drew strength from the defiance of adversity, that is so inextricably wired into the human spirit and its DNA.

There was a collective sense of responsibility towards not just one’s own family but neighbors, teams, and the less fortunate in society. We witnessed the secure looking after the less fortunate – people willing to share and give, whether or not they were fully able to donate or contribute. And to keep themselves, their families and their livelihoods protected and safe, a magic mix of defiance, persistence, and innovation surged through the people and businesses.

And amidst the debris of disaster for the kind of sectors I mentioned earlier, sprang the shoots of opportunity for the rest. With feet off the ground for general safety, the online, the digital, the virtual, the physical-and-contact-less, well, Zoomed. The spirit and resilience underlined by care and the desire to fight saw many online and digital businesses seize the otherwise tragic day, and work to ease and enable the troubled and confined lives of the general population through their services and support.

Fintech, Ed-tech, Broadcasting, Med-tech and Tele-medicine, Online gaming, Agri-tech, the Online media, OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, SonyLIV, Voot, Zee5, ALTBalaji and now another significant entrant in India Lionsgate Play, and others, have been growing.

Aquapay during the pandemic 

To speak about my journey, I joined Aquapay right in the middle of the pandemic and lockdown this year. As a company, we had great confidence in our ecosystem and team. Knowing that the Pandemic would  be equally challenging for a start-up like ours, especially in the mental and financial sense, we stuck to the basics that we created for ourselves.

I joined Aquapay right in the middle of the pandemic and lockdown this year. As a company, we had great confidence in our ecosystem and team: Nitin Chavan

We started enhancing our capability stack on the core Enterprise payment module by adding various policy modules and strengthening the controls on purchases and payments. We also added extra layers of security to safeguard sensitive data.

We brainstormed on devised, executed, and launched unique payment solutions such as Direct Tax Payment, Virtual Cards Module, and Gift & Rewards Solutions which are useful for corporates & businesses of all shapes and sizes. This timely preparedness during the pandemic helped us to sustain our business volumes amidst the sizeable competition around us. We have processed close to US$ 7 Bn Dollars’ worth of INR payments.

This has also help us  improv our alliances with a few more private-sector banks, leading to business growth. Since we have inculcated a positive and growth mindset amongst our team as a valued pillar, we stayed ahead as a family, and behind every team member to protect and boost their morale to face and overcome this challenging time. I am extremely happy that the team emerged much stronger and positive despite the initial fear and negativity amongst all of us.

Fintech and the lockdown

The lockdown has certainly had an impact given that Fintech solutions are typically focused on corporates and their day-to-day dealings. There has been a significant drop in their revenues, but Fintechs have taken the opportunity to improve their proficiency, and have worked tirelessly on improving user-experience and -efficiency. Processes were innovated so that physical-interaction-based implementations were converted partially or fully to automated and contact-less ones.

Since banks are completely dependent on Fintechs for the automation of their processes, it was down to the Fintechs to meet such demands. Fintechs in the past few months have tried improving the capability stack by automating as many manual processes as possible.

Since consumers prefer multiple services from one platform, many Fintech brands rolled out multiple services across single apps, and the process of increasing the offerings of robust solutions through powerful API integrations will continue and will add greater value.

Looking ahead at 2021

Due to the lockdown, there was strong growth in the adoption of digital payments, and with the vastly increased use of different instruments of payments, there were incidences of longer downtimes, greater risks to cybersecurity, and other such transaction failures. So the Fintech sector can expect some strong regulation initiatives across the board.

So it’s been a year of great tragedy and great learnings, and an in-your-face demonstration of all the positives about the human spirit – defiance of adversity, innovating to protect what is ours:  our families, our teams, our neighbors and neighborhoods, the society and our Nation: Nitin Chavan

Neobanks will stage a comeback, as evidenced from an increasing number of startups applying for banking licenses, and institutional banks looking to expanding their digital offerings. Neobanks is being seen as the future of banking.

Millennials will always remain an attractive target audience of customers, and have been the reason for existence of many startups. What has boosted optimism is the manner in which millennial demand for online investing jumped in the year gone by.

Banks, with very high revenues, have been motivated to adopt further, and hone the use of AI in the solutions they offer, which will boost the adoption of AI across Fintech. And with several payment modes that offer safe and secure contact-less payments afcross IoT devices like smart speaker system, mobile wallets and payments and also the greater security that verification tech today offers thanks to ML and AI, we should even see the multi-screen first-generation young digital mavens, the Generation Z-ers,  among the growing number of consumers in the space.

Being prepared for unforeseen business threats and emergencies, coupled with the fact that we have learnt the great value of empathy, humility and relevance, and of being circumspect in our communications about our offerings and aspirations, even if they are for the greater social good… this entire mindset is something that I feel will empower us and be a great line of defense against any future uncertainties and vicissitudes: Nitin Chavan

So it’s been a year of great tragedy and great learnings, and an in-your-face demonstration of all the positives about the human spirit – defiance of adversity, innovating to protect what is ours:  our families, our teams, our neighbors and neighborhoods, the society and our Nation.

At Aquapay, our teams are seized with the need to continuously upgrade, become even better and ever more accomplished digital practitioners, and we are now constantly thinking pre-emptively ahead. The biggest priority, say management experts today, is to make every C-Suite more aware of the urgency to be ing prepared for unforeseen business threats and emergencies.

That awareness and ability down the line, coupled with the fact that we have learnt the great value of empathy, of humility and relevance, and of being circumspect in our communications about our offerings and aspirations, even if they are for the greater social good… this entire mindset is something that I feel will empower us and be a great line of defense against any future uncertainties and vicissitudes.

Less talk and more action is what has driven us during the pandemic, and going forth in this New Year and the half a new normal, we will cherish and treasure the togetherness, relationships, our nation, and the ecology and environment as custodians of these priceless sources of actual and inner happiness.

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