The latest guest on Plugged In was Chirag Shah, the founder and CEO of Pulse, a fintech startup on a mission to revolutionize the lending process for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). During the episode, Shah discussed the company’s goals, as well as how artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the future of work in the fintech industry.

Finger on the Pulse of Business

A rapidly changing business landscape has forced companies to find creative ways to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive. Keeping an eye on trends, stats, and data is one of the ways companies do that since it allows them to make informed decisions, identify opportunities, and mitigate risks. According to Shah, this is where Pulse comes into play.

Pulse’s main objective is to make it easier for business owners to succeed by leveraging technology and data analytics. The goal is to provide SMEs with real-time insights and data-driven solutions to enable them to make informed decisions. Insights include valuable information on areas such as cash flow management, inventory optimization, and fraud detection.

Simplifying the Lending Process

A key challenge in the lending process for SMEs is the time-consuming application journey. Traditionally, it could take weeks or even months for businesses to secure a loan. However, Pulse is simplifying the process.

Pulse aims to change that by implementing a one-click lending system. Currently, 80% of the loan applications processed by Pulse result in a decision within seconds, though Shah believes that this percentage can be improved. He has even set a goal for 2024, which is to achieve one-click lending for all businesses.

To achieve this ambitious undertaking, Pulse has developed an intuitive and streamlined application process. Businesses only need to provide their name and grant open banking access so that Pulse can gather the necessary data for credit decisions. By reducing the time and effort required from businesses, Pulse aims to make the lending process as quick and efficient as possible.

Ensuring Security with One-Click Lending

While faster is better in the case of lending, there are always security concerns to consider. Shah addressed the concerns about sharing banking access, acknowledging that data security is a valid concern for any business. Shah emphasized that Pulse has dedicated teams to address these concerns and provide reassurances to businesses.

The acceptance rate for open banking access has significantly increased, with 88% of businesses willingly providing access in Q4 of last year. This increase can be attributed to the growing acceptance of technology and improved communication about data privacy and security.

The Impact of AI on SMEs

The impact of AI on SMEs goes beyond lending. Shah highlighted the benefits of AI in increasing growth and achieving operational efficiencies. Personalization is a key aspect where AI can help businesses stand out by providing tailored marketing and customer experiences. Chatbots and virtual assistants enable businesses to provide 24/7 customer service, improving customer satisfaction and reducing response times.

Operational efficiencies can also be enhanced through AI. Supply chain management, inventory optimization, and fraud detection are areas where AI can make a significant impact. By analyzing historical data, businesses can make informed decisions about stock levels, pricing, and cash flow management. AI tools can help businesses identify trends, anomalies, and potential risks, enabling them to take proactive measures to improve profitability and efficiency.

While AI offers numerous benefits, implementing it in SMEs can be challenging. The abundance of AI tools and solutions can make it difficult for businesses to choose the right one for their specific needs. Shah advised businesses to seek guidance from consultants and advisors who can help them identify the most suitable tools and use cases. Selecting the right tool is crucial to ensure that businesses can fully leverage the benefits of AI.

One potential concern with AI implementation is the loss of human connection. Chatbots, while efficient for basic queries, may lack the emotional intelligence required for handling customer complaints. Shah emphasized the importance of finding the right balance between automation and human interaction. Chatbots can handle routine queries, freeing up resources to focus on more complex customer issues.

The Future Is Bright

Pulse is at the forefront of AI-driven fintech solutions for SMEs. By offering one-click lending and data-driven insights, the company aims to simplify the lending process and empower businesses to make informed decisions.

AI is transforming the future of work in the fintech industry, providing personalized experiences, improving operational efficiencies, and enabling businesses to thrive in a data-driven world. With the right tools and guidance, SMEs can harness the power of AI to drive growth and success in their respective industries.