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How fintech startup Recko, uses technology with its clients Grofers, Dunzo, and Udaan, to ease reconciliation

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In recent years, India has seen an increase in digital transactions. The majority of businesses in the country are continually dealing with rising transaction volumes and increasingly complicated payment flows and systems.

Saurya Prakash Singh and Prashant Borde, two entrepreneurs, identified a major issue faced by finance departments in organisations: reconciliations. It inspired them to launch Recko in 2017.

Today, the fintech firm is automating the reconciliation process for customers in industries such as banks, ecommerce, food tech, fintech, neo-banks, gambling, insurance providers, and others that have a significant volume of transactions.

Solving a difficult problem

Most organisations, according to Prashant, receive data from a variety of sources, including settlement files, order management systems, banks, and so on. These files are in various formats, and they must be cross-checked to ensure that the information they contain is consistent.

These data must be transformed and reconciled by the financial departments. When working with various finance instruments for accounting, tax, and payment, for example, more data processing is required.

“One can only imagine how difficult things would turn out to be when the volume increases,” says Prashant.

Recko is addressing this, according to him, by employing Big Data frameworks that are optimised for precision, consistency, and scalability. The startup uses pre-defined rules to identify data that is input into the system and reconciles it on a transactional basis.

For enterprises to track, manage, and account money end-to-end, the platform provides a complete and strong technology stack to manage financial data and enable financial activities such as reconciliation, commission calculation, payout production, and reporting.

Recognizing a deeper issue

Prashant explains that merchants have difficulty reconciling these payments due to outdated equipment and technology.

Most organisations currently perform the entire process of confirming that the amounts in the settlement files and bank account are in accord with one another manually.

“We started thinking what if there is a platform that can enable businesses to reconcile easily. Saurya and I started talking to finance teams in a variety of industries and geographies (India, the US, SEA, etc). They all faced a similar problem and were using Excel sheets to reconcile payments,” Prashant explains.

Another unresolved case, commission tracking, was also identified by the duo. “No other tool offered this kind of flexibility without getting too technical,” Prashant explains.

They wanted to automate and speed up this process in order to enable businesses track correct revenue, close SLAs for receiving money in order to optimise working capital, and minimise support costs by having a clear image of money sent to portion of the supply chain.

The Product

Saurya and Prashant, with the help of a few developers, produced the first functioning prototype of the product (codename Perlis). “It took a few months for us to figure it out. Saurya used to handle the product, design, and customer interactions while I concentrated on the technology,” Prashant explains. “We focused a lot on the accuracy, which helped us gain the trust of the finance teams and gave us the confidence to move ahead,” he added.

However, one of the difficulties they encountered was supporting scale. To make scale and security a basis in the architecture, Prashant says they had to redesign a major portion of the first iteration.

Prashant explains, “We then published the next version of our software (codename Wilkes), which provided scale, accuracy, and security.” Wilkes eliminated the majority of the operational tasks and began orienting new customers to the program. This allowed customers to save up to 80 percent of their time spent on monthly activities, thanks to Wilkes.

“We continued working on the enhancements and hired a full-time UX designer to improve the intuitiveness of the product. Users wanted more out of the product and we started enabling them to automate tricky use cases. They needed more analytics and alerting capabilities. We also figured out that manual push of data affects data quality and we need direct integration with data sources,” says Prashant.

The ecommerce industry was among the early adopters of Recko’s products. Prashant claims that they partnered with industry titans such as Myntra, Meesho, Dunzo, PharmEasy, and Grofers to assist them develop into the on-demand food tech space.

Constructing a scalable product

“As we onboarded more customers, we noticed that organisations across industries saw data in very different ways. We didn’t want to miss anything, but we also had a mission: to give it our all. Prashant says, “We added analytics, custom reports, commission calculation, and other interfaces like storage services, payment gateways, and banks.”

The team quickly began working with clients from various industries and places. Recko introduced geographies such as Southeast Asia and the European Union. Versioning was also released to support audit logs and time travel capabilities that needed to be reworked to accommodate future growth.

To cope with the increased load, the team realised it needed to implement new technologies such as Spark, Data Lake with rollback support, and Kubernetes. To remove tech debt and make the codebase more modular, Recko had to rewrite a substantial portion of it. 

Prashant clarifies, “Considering the global outlook, we needed a design overhaul as well. So, we started working on the next version (codename Minsky). We discussed state machines, flowcharts, and architecture diagrams, and once the initial draft was ready, we ran it through a few industry experts to avoid common pitfalls.”

Developing a more distributed process

The team then focused on the system’s dependability and extensibility, according to Prashant, and there was a shift in the tech thought process itself.

Today, businesses like PagarBook and others are focusing on the increasing SME segment in the fintech sector of reconciliation. Recko, on the other hand, is unconcerned about whatever sector he belongs to.

Prashant explains, “We were thinking of a more distributed process, trying to familiarise ourselves with no-SQL design principles using seamless, columnar databases.”

Recko is looking to introduce new modules, such as payouts calculation and a scalable ledger, in the near future. The payments calculation module will assist startups and mid-market businesses in setting up payouts without having to devote time in their development. And then the ledger module acts as a sole source for truthful financial data.

Lastly Prashant explains, “We are planning to open APIs as well so that they can be integrated deeper into companies’ tech stack to solve a multitude of problems. Our long-term goal is to provide enough insights that enable businesses to make financial decisions in real-time,”

Business

Open Network for digital commerce

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How ONDC aims to change the Indian e-commerce industry.

Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 3rd June 2022

The lockdown brought about a dramatic growth of e-commerce in the past few years, which has hampered the business of physical retailers.With super high class companies who have invested billions of dollars in research and development in India we have been going through the abuse of ‘aggregator superpower’ a monopolising model of e-commerce. Allegations by CAIT and others have ranged from predatory pricing and prioritising certain sellers to the foreign ownership of Amazon and Flipkart. 

An attempt by the Indian government is being made to break down giant monopolies like amazon, flip kart, swiggy and so on with the introduction of ONDC which is supposed to be as revolutionary as UPI itself. It will not just be limited to products but also to services such as mobility, grocery, food order and delivery, hotel booking and travel, and many others. 

ONDC is an open technology network based on open protocol which is expected to digitise the entire value chain, standardise operations, promote inclusion of suppliers, derive efficiencies in logistics and enhance value for consumers.

 The official government note was circumspect. “ONDC is a globally first-of-its-kind initiative that aims to democratise digital commerce, moving it from a platform-centric model to an open network,” it said. “[It] will enable buyers and sellers to be digitally visible and transact through an open network. No matter what platform or application they use.”

E-commerce is a complex business where every business has its unique supply chain and processes and standardisation is a challenge. It would require reconfiguration, including a complete revamp of their systems and losing advantages like control over the user interface and consumer behaviour insights. For the government however it will provide better control over what is sold and bought. In UPI, a recent government stipulation set a market share limit of 40 per cent for any service provider, which immediately dampens the growth of a market leader PhonePe which is owned by Walmart outside India.

In a marketplace-centric model, a buyer first selects a platform and then searches for a product there where then platform acts as an intermediary for the buyer and seller. In the new model, the buyer will search for the product first and then pick the right seller offering that item. The platform the seller is on becomes secondary. It aims at promoting open networks developed on open-sourced methodology, using open specifications and open network protocols independent of any specific platform. This provides all the small and medium fishes in the ocean with an opportunity to grow big, and simultaneously give a boost to Make in India.

“It’s (Open Network for Digital Commerce) an idea whose time has come. We owe it to the millions of small sellers to show an easy way to participate in the new high-growth area of digital commerce,” Nilekani, the co-founder and non-executive chairman of Infosys, himself supported this platform. 

This makes it the most potent weapon the ruling dispensation has yet unleashed on India’s e-commerce duopoly.

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Business

Pet breeders stand to lose license if unregistered

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Khushi Shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 24th May 2022

More than three years after the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, making it mandatory for pet shops to be registered with the respective State Animal Welfare Board (SAWB) companies still go one to flout laws.

On June 13, 2021 Corporation officials said they are now keeping a close eye on the pet trade and are ready to seize the shops if the owners do not get valid registration and trade licences.

As per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018, no person should sell or trade in pet animals, whether retail or wholesale, or establish operate a pet shop, or any other establishment engaged in sale, purchase or exchange of pets without obtaining a certificate of registration from the State Animal Welfare Board (AWB).

On 26th august 2021 the petitioner’s counsel Sanjukta Dey told the bench that she had visited shops in Crawford Market and Kurla as recently as three days ago and found violations of the earlier high court order, which had directed immediate closure of such illegal shops. The shops require permission from the State Animal Welfare Board and they had seen puppies being drugged and animals kept out in the sun or out in the rain with no food or water. Due to the continued lack of regulation, illegal pet shops have mushroomed all over the city. It is alleged that such establishments are keeping animals domesticated as well as wildlife from India and abroad in “utterly unhygienic conditions” and the life and liberty of thousands of animals are at stake as they languish and die in miserable conditions in unlicensed and unregulated pet shops. They are also often taken away from mothers a a young age.

May 23 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday sought the Delhi government’s stand on a public interest litigation seeking directions on dealing with unregulated, unlicensed and illegal pet shops operating in the city.

“The non-implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Pet Shop) Rules, 2018 is a complete dereliction of duty by the respondents (authorities), and by doing so, the respondents’ actions are affecting animal welfare negatively and preventing the compliance of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,” the petition filed through lawyers Supriya Juneja and Aditya Singla said.

Many pet shops and breeders operating in Mumbai are not licensed and the state urges pet owners to bring home pets only from licensed breeders.

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Govt. Plans to Cut Cooking Oil Tax

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The Indian market after seeing an unprecedented rise in the prices of edible oils plans to cut taxes on edible oil to keep the prices in check.

Khushi shah – Mumbai Uncensored, 5th May 2022

The war, combined with weather disruptions that limited harvests in other vegetable oil-producing regions, led to a supply shortage of sunflower oil. The ban by the world’s biggest palm oil producer and exporter on 28th April 2022, on the export on the widely used edible oil and all the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine that already upended the global agricultural trade in the world, sent oil prices skyrocketing in the market.

India is particularly sensitive to rising vegetable oil prices as it is dependent on imports for 60% of its needs. Inorder to keep the prices in check ,India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils is planning to cut taxes on some edible oils to cool the domestic market after the war in Ukraine. 

India has tried to reduce prices in the past, including reducing import duties on palm, soybean oil and sunflower oil, and limiting inventory to prevent stocking the oil.[ In September 2021] The import taxes on palm oil had been slashed to 2.5% from 10 %, while soy oil and sunflower oil had been reduced to 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent. 

The reduction in these taxes were aimed at bringing down prices of the edible oils in India and boost consumption, effectively increasing overseas buying by the south Asian country.It would also bring down edible oil prices ahead of key festivals, when edible oil demand rises in the country

However, The moves so far have not been effective enough to cut down the rates of oil in the market 

India, the world’s top importer of vegetable oils, wants to reduce the agricultural infrastructure and development cess on imports of crude palm oil to below 5% . According to reports, it is said that the government is now considering reducing import duties on crude varieties of canola oil, olive oil, rice bran oil and palm kernel oil from 35% to 5% to help boost domestic supplies. The new tax amount is still being deliberated The cess is levied over and above basic tax rates on certain items, and is used to finance agriculture infrastructure projects. The base import duty on crude palm oil has already been scrapped.

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