IFMR Trust is a private trust, set up with a vision to maximize the financial wellbeing of every individual and every enterprise in India by ensuring complete access to financial services.”.

IFMR Trust works towards this mission by investing in and supporting companies that can have a transformative impact on financial access in India. It believes that access to finance, supported by well-functioning markets, is critical for low-income households, and aims to achieve this mission using a 3-pronged strategy:

  • High Quality Origination
  • Orderly Risk Transmission
  • Robust Risk Aggregation

 

IFMR Rural Finance is an ISO 9001:2008 certified technology-enabled and process company whose missions is “to be a catalyst to high quality originators who aspire to maximize financial well-being of their customers”. IRF aims to enable such high quality originators to provide convenient, flexible, reliable and continuous financial services to their customers. IRF’s state of the art technology solutions, financial product solutions and deep expertise in professional services such as training and incubation has equipped a host of organisations in the financial services delivery domain with such design and delivery capabilities. This includes IRF’s licensee company KGFS which offers a full range of financial services for low income households in remote rural areas.

IFMR Rural Finance is taking leaps ahead in this journey to achieve its mission keeping at its core:

  • Cutting edge modular technology solutions
    • Paperless, automated, efficient processes that allow in-branch and mobile financial services
    • Enabling low cost operations and rapid scaling up
  • Innovative tools for wealth management
    • Sophisticated tools such as the Financial Well Being Report, Debt Servicing Capability, Prioritization Matrix to evaluate and advise customers and their household on managing their finances
  • Ideation and Innovation of financial services
    • Facilitating financial inclusion by partnering with originators by offering more than just a product
    • Hands on expertise in rural finance, product design, rural customer financial planning and, training and development of wealth managers from within the community
  • Comprehensive suite of customizable financial products
    • Offers a comprehensive multi-financial product suite covering Credit, Insurance, Pension, Savings & Investments, Remittance and Payments that can be customized according to topography and customer segments.

Approach: Wealth Management
IRF’s founding principle of customer centricity stems from the larger conviction that our originator will be a responsible financial services provider and will strive towards improving the overall financial well-being of the households that they serve.
Product offering is done within the ambit of this ‘wealth management approach’ that encompasses of:

  • A comprehensive analysis of the current status of the household’s financial position and its goals to arrive at a customised financial plan
  • Transparency in transactions and complete information exchange ensuring minimal information asymmetry
  • The Originator’s Wealth Managers are trained to treat all their customers without any discrimination and with utmost respect in all their interactions
  • Consistency in the quality of services provided irrespective of the origination partner that circumvents the threat of reputation risk with respect to customer servicing

 

Technology forms the backbone of IFMR Rural Finance for enabling the delivery of financial services across regions through the tested models of various originators’. The vital facets of the cutting edge modular technology that IFMR Rural Finance enables are:

  • low cost operations
  • paperless transactions
  • automated and efficient processes that allows delivery of financial services both in-branch & through mobiles

IRF leverages technology by using the best hardware and connectivity solutions available in the market and software such as a Loan Management System (LMS) and a proprietary Customer Management System (CMS) which also feeds into a Centralised Auditing System (CAS) and possesses the capability to connect to the e-learning portal. All originator’s will have access to high degree of automation via centralized technology back-ends coupled with standard processes creating outreach to otherwise un-banked areas.

Full utilization of technology has been made in an effort to ensure high quality service levels to the end customer by IFMR Rural Finance in the following manner:

  • Connectivity solutions at the branch ensure that the branch is online real time for transaction processing and data capture.
  • The system is built on a modular approach and therefore gives the flexibility to tailor it to specific needs of any organization.
  • Seamless integration with multiple systems offers a plethora of partnership opportunities and real time data collection ability enables organisations to also maximize efficiency at competitive price points.
  • Enabling high-quality origination, the technology systems enable risk aggregation and risk transfer facilities by aggregating data and enabling real time data transfer to product partners.
  • The use of technology allows for lower operational risks and costs.
  • Ability to configure various functionalities based on business requirements offers a great potential to reduce time to market for offering financial products to customers.
  • Use of thermal printers, SMS and biometric authentication allows originator’s to track their customer’s transactions on a real time basis ensuring high level of transparency and risk-free transaction.
  • Web based applications and mobile based solutions have been innovatively designed to ease out everyday operations which are facilitated by both the online and offline modes.
  • This system also enables UIDAI integration of customer data for KYC and facilitates transaction authentication through biometric and receipt generation for most transactions.

The technological system has been customised for the remote rural, semi-urban and urban landscapes. These solutions and systems are constantly being worked upon and updated to make them more customer-centric and user-friendly.


IFMR Rural Finance has a Product Development team that relies on analytics collected through various KGFS to develop a suite of products that is most relevant to the local geography and can be used to manage the wealth of the rural household.

The product suite focuses on providing access to credit along with innovative investment options to get better returns and insurance options to cover various risks. The constant attempts are to innovate on the product designs and the delivery models to ensure that the complex financial needs of the rural households are addressed in a very cost effective and customer centric manner.

Low income households in rural and urban areas lead complex lives and need a wide range of products that help them cope with their lives better. IFMR Rural Finance recognizes this and invests in understanding customer’s lives to develop products that meet their day-to-day and long term requirements. The product suite ranges from credit, both secured and unsecured, to remittances; pension; insurance and savings / investment products. 

General purpose loans are credit products where the end utilization is not defined. As a consequence, the category include products such as joint liability loan, individual loan, salary loan, jewel loan and an emergency loan, and the underwriting assesses cash flows of the household. Jewel loan and LAP are collateral backed with the actual jewellery or property such as land and building. Emergency loans are unsecured and are usually availed to tide over health shocks or unprecedented events. Working capital loans are also offered to proven entrepreneurs who require funds to run their daily operations.

  • Group Loans
  • Enterprise Loans
  • LOC
  • LAP
  • Jewel Loans
  • Asset Creation Loans – Housing Loan
  • Crop Loans
  • Personal Loan

 

Most households are increasingly becoming nuclear in nature and usually have a single bread winner and are at a high level of risk of slipping into dire straits in the absence of access to life insurance. In order to protect the financial well-being of a household from financial shocks arising due to loss of human capital as a result of death; IRF recommends Term Life Insurance based on their customers’ human capital value. The Wealth Management Approach helps Wealth Managers prioritize the households and also the individual members based on specific human capital calculations.

With the aim to safeguard the financial well-being of enrolled households from financial shocks arising due to events such as death and complete/partial disability, as a result of an accident; IRF offersspecifically customized accidental insurance product to all our customers that covers the mortality risk or permanent disability risk of customers arising due to accident. Insurance cover also provides for expenses towards injuries and hospitalization charges. The Financial Well-being Report aids the Wealth Managers in prioritizing our customers according to their occupations and risk profiles.

Livestock insurance and shop insurance are two other customized insurance schemes that are offered to the households who are engaged in dairy farming and who are primarily dependent on income from shops. 

In order to provide suitable insurance covers, IFMR Rural Finance partners with insurance companies by customising the products that is best suited to their customers depending on the region and nature of occupations.

  • Personal Accident
  • Term Life
  • Shop
  • Livestock
  • Health
  • Credit Life

Family structures across rural and urban India are changing rapidly. In several instances, we have noticed that joint families are becoming a norm of the past, changing into the modern nuclear family structure. In some regions, there is a high rate of migration, particularly of the younger generation to cities/towns or to foreign countries in search of better income and livelihood opportunities. With poor access to savings facilities, medical insurance or pension facilities, this also means that people are poorer in their old age compared to their western counterparts and far more susceptible to financial shocks.

The National Pension Scheme (NPS) was launched by PFRDA to address the issue of old-age security, with NPS Lite specifically targeting low income households. IFMR Rural Finance is a Government authorized aggregator for NPS Lite and an appointed service provider for the Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yojna (MGPSY) for overseas Indians who have an ECR (Emigration Check Required) passport.

  • Pension (NPS Swavalamban/APY & Lite)

With a majority of households engaged in occupations which provide them with daily wages, customers are either not habituated to save regularly or do not have access to save or make any kind of investments. Situations such as these make it challenging for households to be able to invest for achieving any of their life goals, thus pushing themselves to borrow at all points in time at higher interest rates and eventually end up in debt trap. For this, IFMR Rural Finance provides their customers with options to open savings bank account through DO partnerships, invest in recurring deposit for even small amounts and mutual funds in case of higher and long term savings.

  • Savings Bank Account
  • Recurring Deposit
  • Mutual Funds

With large scale permanent and seasonal migration from rural to urban locations, often outside the country, remittance of funds is an essential requirement for the households. With volumes of remittances amounting to $75 billion through both formal and informal sources, most of the remittance transfers were dependent on informal channels until recently. To provide suitable solutions for this, IFMR Rural Finance also offers an international money transfer facility through various recognized channels to suit the sender’s and receiver’s convenience. The enrolled households can now receive money from over 150 countries in their village through formal channels in a hassle free manner. IRF is also working towards offering domestic remittance solutions to its rural population in the future.

To enable customers to transact, transfer funds to bank accounts and make payments anywhere in India, IFMR Rural Finance has partnered with PayMate, an RBI authorised pre-paid card issuer. Any enrolled member of KGFS can now walk into a KGFS branch and transfer funds to recipients for payments such as mobile and DTH recharge/top up and secure e-commerce facilities. This is a cash-bank fund transfer services enabled through a pre-paid card on a NEFT platform.

  • International Remittance
      • Western Union
      • Xpress Money
  • Mobile & DTH Recharge

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Low income households lead complex lives and need products that are customised to their needs. At IRF, we have studied and understood these needs and design relevant products and processes for the delivery of financial services in an efficient, flexible, reliable and convenient manner.

IRF’s aim is to assist the customers to ease out cash flows and mitigate risks with the help of appropriate financial tools in a cost-efficient manner. Product development services at IFMR Rural Finance ensure that an Originator’s entity not just maintains steady-state operations but also grows and diversifies its offerings so as to cater to the needs of the local regions. Product design features include development of strong underwriting software, integration of the product-process to the originator’s system as well as real-time integration and process centralisation for third party product offering.

To ensure that households have access to high quality products, the following efforts are continuously and constantly being made:

  • Guided by the wealth management approach to ensure suitability and to enable customers to achieve their goals
  • Offering complete suite of products to share a multi-product relationship with customers
    • Credit, Insurance, Savings, Investment, Retirement solutions and Payments
  • Tie-ups with high quality product manufacturersComprehensive product development cycle
    • Business correspondents for loans
    • Insurance companies / Mutual Funds
    • Payment service providers

Product Development Cycle:

Given the importance of understanding the local context, a comprehensive mapping exercise is the beginning of the setting up of the Originator’s entity. All information collected is aggregated and analysed using rigorous data analytics and algorithms at the back end, resulting in insights that form the foundation in product development. From a financial institution’s viewpoint, high quality data helps in taking informed and responsible lending decisions with a deeper understanding of risk and strong underwriting processes, all of which leads to better pricing decisions. The steps executed under product development cycle are a joint engagement between the IRF and the Originator’s team which ranges from idea generation, market analysis, product design, pilot testing and evaluation, review and launch.

Process efficiency being the focus of the Originator; various systems and mechanisms have been implemented to ensure smooth and effective practices for transactions at the branch level. Various checks and balances have been put in place to ensure control on operations.

Process innovation is brought in through the extensive use of technology. Process design helps customize everyday operations at the Originators’ branches to ensure flexibility, convenience, continuity and reliability to the end customers. IFMR Rural Finance also ensures region-specific process adaption; exception handling processes and business continuity module and low-cost solutions for physical documentation.

All Originators’ units will follow a standard set of robust processes that are designed to enable the efficient delivery of services in a low-cost environment. Technology plays a pivotal role in minimising the operational costs for an Originator ensuring the provision of high quality service levels to the end customer. Robust connectivity solutions at the branch ensure that the branch is online real time for transaction processing and data capture.

IFMR Rural Finance’s training function is committed to design and develop comprehensive training programs to ensure that the employees of various Originators receive adequate and appropriate training to carry out their duties effectively, across all levels on a continuous basis. The need for training is determined by the Originator’s mission, vision, business requirements and changing business environment of the individual employee’s job role.

Training strategy aims to build a compelling brand for training and includes identifying training needs, designing and delivering training programs and constantly improving them to ensure capacity building. Training Strategy also encompasses developing trainers at each Originator’s location including building skill sets of trainers.

IFMR Rural Finance prescribes the appropriate methodology to be used for each training module/ type for imparting training to the Originator’s employees. This is decided based on the impact that is to be created, topics to be delivered and audience’s background knowledge and skills.

Apart from content development and delivery of training across levels, IFMR Rural Finance also ensures that all employees are authorised to offer financial services by undergoing periodic certification modules as mandated.

Risk Management services may be seen as an independent pull-based services offered by IFMR Rural Finance to manage existing business potential and/or promote a best-practice culture for seamless operations. The scope of such services may include regulatory level changes as well.

IFMR Rural Finance offers risk management strategies across multiple facets:

  • Credit Risk:
    • Client management module
    • Household-level tracking and monitoring
    • Daily MIS reports and Business Intelligence Portal
    • Technology-enabled tracking solutions (along with SMS updates)
  • Market Risk
    • In-built system and technology controls for price fluctuations
    • Periodic updates through monitoring and cash-flow re-assessment
  • Operational Risk
    • Cash Management module
    • Document management module
    • Branch/agent cash settlement at end of day
    • Business continuity planning
    • Online Centralised Audit System for Fraud Management
    • Brand audits

Due to the vast spectrum and depth of expertise possessed by IFMR Rural Finance, they are best placed to act as specialist consultants to other financial institutions that intend to operate in rural and urban geographies. IFMR Rural Finance offers customized incubation services which are intended to be pull-based services, demanded by the Originator at the time of establishing a new entity or expansion of the same in a new context.

As part of the incubation services, IFMR Rural Finance offers the following:

1) Network Strategy and Branch Selection:

This includes assistance in identification of potential districts to set up any entity or branch in a particular geography as this accounts for the most basic level of organization strategy and choice. Reviewing the core attributes prior to finalising the district provides an elementary sense of the Originator entity’s business potential, composition of the product basket in the branches as well as the degree of customisation that may be required to set up the model.

2) Human resource recruitment:

Support may be offered in terms of recruiting, on-boarding and training the senior management or key personnel to run the Originator’s business.

3) Geography-based customization:

This could include modifications to the existing package of product suite and process such that it suits the local context; tie-ups with product manufacturers; technology enhancements wherever required; SWOT analysis and support as a licensor.

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IFMR Rural Channels and Services
Anupama Educational Society
Arohan
Association for Community Development Services
Bharathamatha Family Welfare Foundation
Bharatiya Micro Credit
Chaitaniya Micro Credit
Disha Microfinance
Entrepreneurs Associates
FIA Technology Services
Future Financial Services Limited
Gujarat Livelihood Promotion Company
Humana People to People India
Karnataka State Unorganised Workers Social Security Board
Light Micro Finance
Lok Management Services
Madhya Predesh Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board
Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs
Muthoot Fincorp
Namathu Deepam Micro Finance Services
National Mother and Child welfare Organisation (NAMCO)
Nightingale Charitable Society
Pahal Financial Services
Rajasthan Shram Sarathi Association (RSSA)
Rural Education and Action for Liberation
Rural Reconstruction organization (RRO)
Rural Upliftment Of Womens Association (RUWA)
Saija Finance
Society for Community Organisation & Rural Development (SCORD)
Sevalaya
SEWA Bharath
Stella Maris Institute
SWAN CARE India
Utkarsh Micro Finance
Varam Capital

IFMR Rural Finance is a thought leader in the area of financial inclusion. Having created a brand for innovating across multiple product structures enabled by sophisticated technology and process innovation, IRF excels in delivering high quality financial services to households across diverse regions. We have people with deep expertise, diverse educational backgrounds and industry knowledge, specialising in a number of verticals including technology innovation, financial product development, business analytics, wealth management, process streamlining and delivering training programmes.

Current Openings

If you would like to be a part of a young and dynamic team in innovating financial solutions for low-income households, do write to us at hr.ruralfinance@ifmr.co.in.