Meet Melissa Frakman: an expert on the fintech landscape in India.
Melissa has spent over 15 years in India, leading investments and strategies for companies including Amazon, Citi, Remitly, Visa, Uber, MoneyGram, NYSE, and Mastercard. She speaks Hindi and is a sought-after advisor for Indian founders interested in going global. Her current role is Founder & Managing Partner at the venture capital fund EMVC.
India has become something of a proving ground for mobile financial technology, with a large unbanked population and growing middle class. India also has a national identity system, which allows for extensive experimentation and innovation in payments and fintech generally. Medici Global reported $1.8 billion in fintech funding in 2018 for India, with most deals in lending and payments.
EMVC invests in breakthrough fintech and insurtech in India, supporting local entrepreneurs with global connectivity, capital, and industry expertise. EMVC backs early-stage innovation that is scaling rapidly in its local market and has relevance globally. EMVC’s cross-border fund is led by a team of passionate investors and financial services industry leaders, bridging some of the largest and best-known fintech names in Silicon Valley and Wall Street with Digital India.
Tell us more about what you do and how you moved into your space.
There are founders across India that are developing new tech and business models to improve lives and disrupt legacy industries in ways that “leapfrog” global incumbents. While the world is more connected than ever, meaningful collaboration is startlingly nascent between the largest global players and emerging markets fintech.
At EMVC–via our early-stage, strategic investment approach–we’re solving for the inherent mismatch in risk appetite, cultural context, and hands-on business support that has prevented more cross-border fintech collaboration from happening.
I’m “at home” in both markets and in India for the long haul. My investment focus is informed by a view of how the global tech landscape will be oriented in 10-20 years from now.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
We help the leading global financial services and tech companies and investors gain exposure to some of the most interesting early-stage fintech and insurtech innovation globally – much of this happens to come from India! For founders, we offer a uniquely sector-focused, fresh approach and global industry network to help them grow their business.
Across digital banking, payments, wealthtech, AI, SaaS, regtech, insurtech and more – we’re committed to delivering outcomes that move the needle forward for all stakeholders, especially consumers whose lives stand to improve dramatically from tech efficiencies. Our mantra is: The world’s most transformative financial technology comes from the most unexpected places.
How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
In India over the past few years, technology advancements have rapidly increased the pace of last-mile access and adoption for hundreds of millions of new internet and mobile users, suddenly creating an open field ripe for experimentation with new products and services.
Widespread 4G data, dropping smartphone prices, fast public payments rails, and the ubiquity of Whatsapp, Youtube, TikTok are together part of a foundation for what’s yet to come.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019 (as it relates to your industry)?
Fintech as an infrastructure layer for platforms across sectors remains a compelling trend.
Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
Arundhati Bhattacharya: As former Chairperson of State Bank of India, Bhattacharya oversaw the behemoth institution (24,000 branches and hundreds of millions of accounts) through significant turmoil, including a national debt restructuring, consolidation with regional banks, and a fast-changing payments ecosystem. Against exceptional institutional headwinds, it was inspiring to see her leadership in reforming some of SBI’s businesses and pushing technological change through to fruition, some of which was extremely progressive in the global context.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to get into your space?
Just get started! I speak to so many talented professionals in corporate jobs who want to contribute to their country’s fintech story but are intimidated to jump in. Joining a startup with a team you respect – then helping them drive results – is an invaluable experience and most often a risk worth taking.