Global SME Finance Forum 2023 Kicks Off in Mumbai with Focus on Digital Ecosystems and Future of SME Finance

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SME Finance Forum 2023
SME Finance Forum 2023

MUMBAI: The Global SME Finance Forum 2023, a dynamic platform fostering SME financing, kicked off its three-day conference in Mumbai with a focus on digital ecosystems and the future of SME finance. The event is co-hosted by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and the Indian Bank’s Association (IBA), with over 700 participants from senior bankers, tech luminaries, and thought leaders from 70 countries and 250 institutions attending.

Dr Bhagwat Karad highlighted that “MSME plays a very important role in the development of the Indian economy. Currently, around 6.3 crore MSME enterprises are working in India and have generated around 11.1 crore employment opportunities. Around 30% of GDP comes from MSME and the growth rate every year is 10 percent. The government of India under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Narender Modi has been proactive in removing hurdles for the SME sector, and together with the banking sector, we strive to make financing easily accessible to fuel the growth of these vital enterprises.”

Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Chairman of the Board, of Infosys, said “SMEs are the biggest beneficiaries of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI). India is building public trails to access credit and market-benefiting SMEs. More than 50 million merchants are opting for a digital mode of payment. Digitization helped us generate a balance sheet quicker as all the financial details like invoices, transactions, and tax credits are easily accessible. Digitization also reduces the turnaround time to get loans. In the next 5 years, at least 50 countries are going to implement DPI.”

The conference began with a panel discussion and keynote address by renowned speakers such as Mr. Makhtar Diop, Managing Director of International Finance Corporation (IFC), Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Co-Founder and Non-Executive Chairman of Infosys, and Mr. Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer of Monetary Authority of Singapore, among others.

During the fireside chat session, Mr. Nilekani highlighted the benefits of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) for SMEs, while Mr. Dinesh Khara, Chairman of SBI, discussed the shift from collateral-based lending to data-based lending. Ms. Shalini Warrier, Executive Director of Federal Bank, emphasized the convenience of online payments through QR codes provided by UPI apps.

Dinesh Khara, Chairman, of SBI, who joined virtually in the session titled Unlocking the potential of digital platforms for SME financing said, “In the last ten years, we have witnessed a significant transformation in our bank. There has been a prominent shift from a collateral-based lending model to data-based lending, which has further assisted us in reducing the bank’s overall operational costs. Digitalization has also helped vendors make faster and more convenient payments, streamlining the MSME loan process. Additionally, digital platforms have been instrumental in catering to the needs of SME customers and creating value for them.

Shalini Warrier, Executive Director, Federal Bank said during that same panel, “In the past, banking operations were primarily conducted manually. However, in recent years, a significant evolution has occurred, with digital technology taking the lead in the sector. One of the notable advancements is the convenience of online payments through QR codes provided by UPI apps. Nowadays, a substantial portion of transactions occurs digitally on a daily basis, surpassing other traditional payment methods.

The conference also featured six SME finance innovators who demonstrated their technologies and explained their potential to change SME finance. The fintech invited to pitch were 360tf, Builder.ai, CredAble, ShopUp, Topicus, and Uplinq Financial Technologies.

Commenting on the Global SME Finance Forum 2023, Sivasubramanian Ramann, Chairman & MD, SIDBI, said, “I am grateful for the opportunity extended to SIDBI for hosting such a prestigious event that has witnessed tremendous participation of industry stakeholders across the world and encouraged discussions on very relevant issues and trends on the SME Sector. With India taking the presidency of the G20 for the first time, the country’s views, and outlook on the MSME sector are of significance for the world. The strides made by the Government of India in developing a robust digital infrastructure and the consequent digital innovation by various players in the MSME credit domain needs to be discussed, encouraged as also celebrated.

Mr. Qamar Saleem, Incoming SME Finance Forum CEO, said, “I am thrilled to see the level of participation and richness of discussions during the first day of Global SME Finance Forum here in Mumbai. We have more than 700 executives representing more than 70 countries and 250 institutions gathered here. It is also fitting that the event is hosted by India which is at the cutting edge of digital infrastructure and innovations steering SME finance. I am really excited as the event unfolds which will feature over 90 speakers across 15 panels, 10 study tours to leading institutions in India, our flagship SME finance annual awards, and brainstorming sessions on key thematic game-changing topics. It has been a privilege to partner with SIDBI, and IBA as cohosts, and SBI as Diamond sponsors to the event and we thank them for all their support. SME Finance Forum and IFC remain committed to supporting the private sector globally in playing a catalytical role to support SMEs as they drive economic growth and create jobs”  

The Global SME Finance Forum 2023 is a knowledge center for data, research, and best practices in promoting SME finance, established by the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) in 2012. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) manages the initiative, operating a global membership network of +240 members that brings together financial institutions, technology companies, and development finance institutions to share knowledge, spur innovation, and promote the growth of SMEs.

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