Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Smart personal loans: Exploring the intersection of technology and financing

Understand how personal loans are revolutionized by intervention of technology. Learn about digital lenders & smart borrowing solutions provide speed, convenience, and financial inclusion

Published: May 23, 2024 04:03:13 PM IST
Updated: May 24, 2024 04:22:32 PM IST

Smart personal loans: Exploring the intersection of technology and financingPersonal loans are evolving with the rise of digital lenders using cutting-edge technology, reshaping the borrowing landscape in India

Personal loans have become an essential part of modern life. With growing needs and aspirations, individuals often require additional funds for life goals, emergencies, higher education, travel, and more. At the same time, the personal loan sector in India is undergoing massive changes with the proliferation of new-age digital lenders harnessing technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and analytics. This article explores how technology is revolutionising personal loans and the implications for consumers.

Emergence of digital lenders

The Indian personal loan market has seen the entry of numerous technology-driven digital lenders in recent years that operate entirely or predominantly online. Banks like IDFC FIRST Bank have digitised the loan process end-to-end – from application to approval, disbursal, and repayment. This has made personal loans more accessible and convenient compared to traditional banks that still rely on lengthy paperwork and long turnaround times. Digital lenders leverage technologies at various stages. For instance, they use algorithms and alternative data sources like bank statements, mobile usage patterns, and social media activity to instantly assess creditworthiness. This allows for speedy ‘instant’ loan decisions without heavy reliance on paperwork and collateral that were hallmarks of conventional loans. Further, integrating with payment service providers allows digital disbursals and repayments through UPI, netbanking, and e-wallets.

Smart borrowing solution

Conventional personal loans have now become a thing of the past. Today, with a completely digital application, individuals can apply for instant personal loans from the comfort of their homes. Moreover, banks have also innovated their loans according to the needs of their customers. For instance, IDFC FIRST Bank offers completely digital personal loans via FIRSTmoney, which provides the flexibility to withdraw funds in parts or in one go, depending on the customer’s needs. This unique feature allows customers to pay EMIs only on the, funds utilized offering flexibility and affordability at the same time. Customers can choose a repayment period ranging from 2 to 60 months for clearing off their FIRSTmoney loans. What enhances these smart loans even more is the ‘ ZERO foreclosure charges’ feature where borrowers can repay their loans in full before the end of their scheduled repayment period without incurring any extra charges. 

Rise of alternative credit scoring

A major advantage of digital lenders over traditional banks is the use of 'alternative data' for credit underwriting. With limited credit histories available in India, many worthy borrowers are declined loans due to insufficient paperwork. To address this, new-age lenders analyse thousands of data points beyond income/employment records to gauge creditworthiness. This includes factors like the applicant's academic background, social circles, spends, and digital footprint. By capturing diverse signals, alternative credit scores can accurately assess profiles traditionally seen as 'thin-file' or 'no-file'. This opens up formal credit to first-time borrowers, gig workers, and young professionals previously left out of the system. Going forward, as more digital transactions get captured, alternative data is expected to get far more sophisticated with inputs from domains like education, healthcare, investments, travel, and entertainment.

Power of artificial intelligence

Cutting-edge AI and machine learning techniques are finding widespread use across the credit lifecycle. During application evaluation, lenders deploy AI models trained on past decisions to instantaneously gauge riskiness. Pattern recognition helps identify anomalies, red flags, and the propensity to default. Continuous learning improves predictive power over time. 

 AI engines enable the banks to expand lending to new customer segments and geographies by accurately pricing risks. AI is also useful post-disbursement for tasks like customer profiling, behavioural analytics, collections optimisation, fraud detection, and portfolio management.

Smart personal loans: Exploring the intersection of technology and financingTechnology-driven innovations are reshaping personal loans in India, catering to diverse needs and aspirations with speed and efficiency

Benefits for consumers

The digitisation of smart personal loans like FIRSTmoney through new technologies brings numerous customer-centric advantages.

Paperless & instant application

Digital interfaces make it possible to apply for loans from any device in a matter of minutes by simply adding basic KYC details. IDFC FIRST Bank offers FIRSTmoney smart personal loans for customers with credit scores of 750 and above. All they need is their physical PAN card to complete the video KYC process. 

Quick disbursals

AI-powered underwriting and direct transfers to bank accounts ensure loan amounts are credited at lightning speed, often on the same day itself. 

Flexible options

With FIRSTmoney loans, customers enjoy a lot of flexibility which makes it easier to manage their finances. With loan amounts that can go up to Rs. 10 lakhs, customers can repay their loans by choosing flexible tenures from 2 to 60 months. These loans can also be foreclosed without any charges to worry about.

Competitive rates

With analytics improving risk assessments, digital lenders can price loans competitively. Personal Loan Interest Rates offered at IDFC FIRST Bank starts at just 10.99% per year. 

Round-the-clock access

Customers can check their eligibility as well as apply and track applications 24x7 through bank websites and mobile apps. IDFC FIRST Bank’s FIRSTmoney smart personal loan can be applied for at any time. 

Data-driven offers

By analysing spending patterns, lenders customise and target contextually relevant pre-approved offers.

Towards a more inclusive credit system

By harnessing alternative data sources, digital lenders are stitching gaps in India's credit infrastructure. Beyond the metro cities, tier 2/3 locations are increasingly being served. As per IBEF data, digital lending platforms have already financed over 4 crore Indian consumers as of 2023. This is expected to touch 10 crore by 2025. 


Technologies like AI and analytics are revolutionising India's personal loan ecosystem. Players like IDFC FIRST Bank are ushering in hyper-personalised, seamless digital experiences benefitting consumers through speed, convenience, and financial inclusion. Going forward, as alternative data sources expand, personal loans are set to become smarter and even more inclusive by leveraging unprecedented insights into the creditworthiness of each individual.

 The pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.