The Gig economy has become a focus in recent years as working patterns shift and companies and people take on more flexible working conditions due to digitization, a phenomenon that has been accelerated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Gig workers are independent contractors and temporary workers who enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies to provide services to the company’s clients as opposed to traditionally employed workers.
One firm which is working to embrace the Gig economy is . (), a global technology company with a suite of products designed to offer a comprehensive set of services that enable customers to meet their goals in a dynamic global technology environment.
TraQiQ’s leading-edge FinTech and AI (artificial technology) and ML (machine learning) solutions have been deployed with leading multi-national customers around the world and are helping increase customer loyalty, improve profitability and drive efficient financial transactions.
TraQiQ has a global presence with offices/customers in Asia, North America, Africa and Latin America and its leadership and advisory team includes people with deep experience of running large businesses as well as successful entrepreneurs.
One of those successful entrepreneurs is its CEO, Ajay Sikka, who Proactive sat down with to find out more about the company.
Proactive: TraQiQ describes itself as “a leading provider of FinTech solutions for the gig-economy”, can you explain what you mean by this?
Ajay Sikka: There has been so much conversation in the last few years about FinTech, with companies chipping away at the monolithic banking system. There are so many trends, but the one that I like the most is the one that puts the customer at the center. And it’s not just FinTech standalone. It’s about other trends together with FinTech that make the customer happy.
These trends, such as AI and ML help us predict their requirements. FinTech is an enabling technology that helps put the transaction in place, but you’ve got other important trends like blockchain that provides the next level of security and so on. So, what we’re trying to do at TraQiQ is look at a scenario where we are building a product stack that brings these FinTech solutions to the masses.
We use our strength in working with the Gig economy to enable a lot of things. We have a wallet, we have our settlement engine, we have our own workflow engine, meaning that we have a complete software stack. And this software stack enables customers to manage tasks. You can take our software, and you can manage your 5 people, 500 people, 5,000 people.
More importantly, we also have a network of over 14,000 people in India who are actually doing deliveries. So, we get this beautiful combination of the FinTech tools, the wallets, as well as the actual gig workers, the actual task workers who bring these two things together … going into the field, collecting cash payments from a variety of customers.
So it kind of brings these two worlds together, these two worlds that are colliding. And that’s kind of what we are enabling today.
The company is focused on three primary pillars designed to help identify customers, facilitate transactions, and fulfill those transactions. So can you tell us more about that?
Our company is very heavily focused on these three areas. The first one, being very customer-centric, is to really understand your customer: What they want? When do they want it? How do they want it? There are so many dimensions to our customers which means we have a complete suite of AI and ML tools that help us understand a customer’s behavior, the transactions they are doing, how they are doing them, and when they’re doing them.
The second is our FinTech stack that enables a bunch of transactions. This could be for customers who have bank accounts and credit cards, and for customers who don’t. We have tools that enable you to make a payment via a text message.
The third and final pillar is our last mile pillar where we facilitate deliveries and tasks where we’re a combination of Uber Eats, Doordash and TaskRabbit. If I look at the service we provide, our people in India are probably the most proficient at doing deliveries and tasks in the area of finance, banking and insurance.
But we also do a variety of other services such as background verifications and address verifications. We also work with real estate companies to help their tenants in a variety of tasks.
TraQiQ has also been building blockchain-based solutions to leverage that super-secure infrastructure for more complex transactions. How is that progressing?
We all agree about the power of blockchain. We talk about security and microtransactions, and the technology prowess is amazing. But there is a second dimension as well and that’s the people part of it.
If you look at the data, 44% of gig workers are university graduates; 28% of them are professionals, they are lawyers and accountants and so on. I believe about 60%-plus do it to generate extra income to support their lifestyle. There is a lot of data on these people because this is such a high-growth element of our ecosystem today.
When all of it started it was really good because all these venture-funded companies were getting a lot of money to these task workers coming into the network. However, if you talk to these people there is a lot of angst. They don’t really make as much money as they were supposed to, with people in regular jobs making more.
So these are the areas of blockchain I think that really needs to get highlighted, not just the secure network.
Why do I need an Uber or Lyft or Doordash, if I can build a suitable blockchain solution that means the actual nodes of the network can interact amongst themselves, and make that extra 30%-40% of money. So from our perspective, we look at both sides, the security and all the other technology benefits as well as the people benefits.
So how does blockchain help us? It helps us from a hiring process. If people have all their credentials and certifications on a blockchain, as we do each and every transaction, we can validate and make sure it’s all good. That way our customers or partners or employees, everybody gets paid rapidly. And then there’s also the whole notion of sharing money equally. So we are very, very committed to the blockchain platform.
We actually built a wallet a couple of years ago and we are rearchitecting some of the components of our product stack right now. We are well on that journey and we’re hoping that before the end of the year that we’ll be making an announcement where we can start actually bringing them into our core production products.
The company has a goal of getting to a $20 million-plus run rate in revenue this year, through both organic growth and strategic acquisitions. So, is more M&A imminent?
Yes, we have demonstrated that we are keen on adding companies to our portfolio. But it’s not just pure acquisitions. If you look at organic growth first, we announced in our Last Mile business a couple of weeks ago our growth in the verification segment, where our task workers physically go to locations and verify whether somebody does live or work there. We are going to be adding a couple of more segments in the near term in our Last Mile business.
Similarly, in our Loyalty and Rewards business, we have added a couple of very large, multinational customers where our products have gone live and we’re waiting to make sure everything goes well, and will be talking about those as well. So there’s a fair amount of organic growth in our core business.
However, if you look at the three pillars we just talked about, I expect us to make a couple more acquisitions. Some of it is about adding new technology, new products to the mix. But we’re also very keen on adding significant new revenue streams. Our current focus is emerging markets and we’re hoping that we can add new geographies to the mix.
As of now, it does appear that we will be able to get to our $20 billion run rate, or better perhaps, by the end of the year.
So what should TraQiQ shareholders expect from the company in the near term?
Our company is continuing to grow rapidly and our growth is, very specifically, in the three areas we’ve talked about, which is in Analytics, to target the customer, in FinTech, and then Last Mile delivery. This growth will continue. It will continue to be a very focused set of parameters that we will deliver on.
We’ve talked about our revenue numbers. We’ve not talked about profitability, but it’s coming, it’s coming very soon, and we expect to be profitable in the short term to near term. The area that I’d love for our shareholders to see is new geographies, new revenue streams, new product bundles. This world that we live in is innovating so rapidly, there are so many new things happening, that it’s critical that we not stop that process.
COVID impacted us in many ways, however, we were fortunate that we were able to continue our revenue growth, with not very much of a hit to expenses. Our employees were fabulous, they stuck with us through many of the challenges.
So going forward, I expect acquisitions; I expect better revenue; I expect us to hire a lot more people as we build out this business rapidly. In the world of technology, our employees are the most important element outside of customers. So we will be talking more about what we’re doing with our employees. We’ll be talking more about the social benefits that our company is helping with. And I think, lastly, over the course of the next 6 to 12 months, we’ll also start talking about the profitability goals that we have, not just revenue goals.
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