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Hospital bills? Short of school fees? You can bank on these startups

Pune-based Healthfin allows patients in case of a medical emergency to borrow money through the platform and pay back over a period of time at an affordable interest rate.

BENGALURU: While numerous startupshave disrupted the broader retail and small enterprise lending business, a handful of them is concentrating on extremely niche sectors. Starting from health and annual school fees of children and even for online courses, a number of startups are utilising technology to cater to key consumer needs.

Pune-based Healthfin allows patients in case of a medical emergency to immediately borrow money through the platform and pay back over a period of time at an affordable interest rate. The startup, which started operations in March 2017, has tied up with more than 50 hospitals across Maharashtra to start with. “Our target is to get these people instant loans without getting the customer under a financial burden,” said Parvaiz Hussain the founder of Healthfin. “We do a soft approval within 10 minutes and sanction happens within 1 hour.”

“In India, 83% of the healthcare spends are done out of pocket and as per World Health Organisation standards, the total market for health care industry is around $ 100 billion,” he said.

Another Delhi-based startup has turned the model upside down with a savings product.

Affordplan offers consumers a savings product for planned procedures like pregnancies or even non-emergency surgeries like knee replacement and others. Having partnered with around 200 hospitals in the National Capital Region, the company offers a wallet kind of a service where patients can park money for a period of time and use it to pay for the procedure.

“We are like an extended financial arm of the hospital and if the consumer goes through us, we can get him a 15 to 20% discount in the total expenses for the surgery because of our partnership with the hospital,” said Tejbir Singh cofounder of Affordplan. Having raised $3 million in Series A round, the company is targeting mid seized hospitals for partnerships where most would not have a medical insurance.

“Since acquisition cost is low, there is an opportunity to create right value in this niche lending space,” said Asutosh Upadhyay of seed funding firm Axilor Ventures.

With quality private schooling becoming unaffordable for most parents, Bengaluru-based Finmomenta is targeting to meet their specific requirements through an affordable lending product.“We will fund the entire school fees for the year or part of the fees as per the needs and the loan can be repaid over the next one year,” said Brahma Mahesh Khaderbad, the cofounder of Finmomenta.

While all these startups are early stage companies who are trying to scale up, these sectors offer a huge scope and there is demand as well.

“Niche segments offer pretty big opportunities, but it will take knowledge of the founder in more than one domain coupled with tech expertise to create the solution. They also need to build up unique distribution capacities,” said Sanjay Swamy, managing partner at Prime Venture Partners, which has backed Affordplan.

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