Over the years, India has been making progress towards complete digitisation. Gone are the days when we recorded all transactions with pen and paper. From booking a taxi to making payments, everything is possible with just a click of a button. While many of us are fortunate enough to use digital methods for transactions, many across the country are still struggling to meet the bare minimum. Several small businesses still have to rely on the written word to record their expenditure, credit amount and other aspects.
In light of this tedious ordeal, an online application called ''OKCredit'' makes it easier for business owners to go on about their day-to-day dealings. Launched in 2017, it is the brainchild of three IIT Kanpur graduates named Harsh Pokharna, Gaurav Kumar and Aditya Prasad.
Book- Keeping By Small Shop-Owners
After finishing college, the now founders were looking for a startup opportunity. They spoke to their friends, family and acquaintances, looking for any inspiration. Eventually, it was the grocery store near their house that gave them the idea to start OKCredit.
"One day, Aditya went to the store to pay all the dues. He had to stand in a queue for 15-20 minutes. The owner was rummaging through the bills, where the names were removed. Eventually, the total amount was something that we could not believe," one of the founders, Harsh Pokharna, narrated the story to The Logical Indian.
When they confronted the shopkeeper, they realised the magnitude of the problem. Since it was the only grocery store catering to several residents, the owner had trouble recording everything by hand.
Vernacular, Easily Accessible
The aim behind creating a digital ''bahi khata'' account is to enable small businesses to record their transactions without any hassles. Targeting mainly Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, the app is available in 14 languages. Pokharna explains, "We have specific features, such as the voice feature. A lot of time is saved from typing out an entire sentence.
They do not need to have the app. Using Unified Payment Interface (UPI), payment is made. A message will be sent to alert the customer. For the founders, it was not an easy road ahead. Convincing the shopkeeper to go digital took a lot of effort. "Initially, the shopkeeper was excited when we proposed the idea of an app to keep all the records. However, it was difficult for him to understand, despite it meeting all our UX requirements," Pokharna adds. Along with this, they had to get their fellow employees on board to make this venture a success. They had to cross the language barrier to make it all happen.
Trust was another issue. The shopkeeper kept the written records with him, despite having a digital app. He was afraid of losing data. During COVID-19, the app saw a drop in its transactions as well. Many small businesses had closed down. However, they were able to recover well in the post-pandemic era.
Creating Customer Relationships
OkCredit aims to be a lucrative platform for businesses to create their own identity. With the Indian economy being fragmented, several players have come up to work with various merchants.
"The MSMEs do not want to depend completely on a marketplace for their business. They want to build their own identity. However, the technology is not easy and not affordable enough for them," Pokharna told The Logical Indian.
The app wants to bridge these existing gaps so as to allow small businesses put themselves on the map and create their customer relationships as well as identity.