Credits: Me! I twisted the awesome recruitment poster for clickbait

Cred’s Business Model

Trust is so underrated.

The secret to a better life, a better economy, and a better society is high trust in the humans around you. Cred wants to become a community of verified high-income individuals who trust each other. The business part will have all the key ingredients of any modern internet business, but there are parts that are still evolving.

But, it is Fintech! Right?

Yes and No. Payment/repayment is an entry point. You got to start somewhere. It’s fintech today, ed-tech tomorrow, x-tech someday.

Cred is largely horizontal — so limiting it to a vertical is an exercise in futility.

Horizontal is what? explain.

Here you go.

Super*** stuff is not that obvious!

It is a Social Network

While your CC payments or rent happened to be a starting use case. Most people are here because they think it is a privilege to be here. There is a velvet rope effect at play. If you don’t have a high enough credit score, you’re NOT allowed. It’s a network for a niche community. They pay together, and they play together.

But you said “social network” — can I post a selfie?

Have patience, it would come. Less like Instagram, more like Bumble.

Dating site?

No that’s not what I mean.

Lunchclub then?

Not that either, but it would have elements of both.

You’re confusing me.

Wait, jumping to conclusions is not an Olympic sport. I said it’s horizontal, it’s a new universe and like every universe, it keeps expanding. Wait for it to take its own form and shape, don’t bucket it yet.

It’s a Game

It’s a game. Don’t look for utility. It’s just for fun. Like candy crush. The idea is to make you keep opening the app. Just like you keep opening the refrigerator when you are bored, you know there is nothing new in it, but you still check if something can be worked out. Also like a Farmville that hooked millions of people, the cred game also needs you to keep checking regularly otherwise your crops will wither.

The game loop is not limited to one game or challenge on the app. The game is larger — finding something interesting to do IS the game. Once you open it — you’ve to look for what interesting stuff can you do, and then do that, find resistance, burn some coins, make a purchase/referral, unlock a new stage, find more things to do, and so on. In a loop.

A mundane task like Payment has been gamified, just to get you started. Rewarding someone on top of the extremely low margin payments cannot be a real business for any volume of transactions. Think of it as a sport, the payment is just an entry point (a participation ticket). The real strategy is just to make you play the game.

It’s a marketplace

There are only 3 ways you monetize an app — Ads, Transactions (direct/affiliate), Subscription. Cred, as you’d see, would easily be able to make money on ads and affiliate transactions, it sells stuff, and a privilege card kinda subscription is also possible. Privileges that you earn because of your credibility. But, that’s later, as of now it is a marketplace. Again it’s not a typical e-commerce market place where you find everything, it’s a premium Showroom of curated stuff. A premium Expo of sorts. If Flipkart is Big Bazaar, cred is UB City Mall (Sorry only Bengalurians will get it).

So, what can you buy/sell?

Anything and everything that you can, to be in the game of building status and trust. Whether it is a subscription or a perfume or a course, a micro-insurance, or a TedX ticket. These may not be a regular thing, may not be essential for life, but high-quality stuff that only cred players can buy.

It’s not just material things or services — you can potentially Shopify yourself here.

SHOPIFY YOURSELF? You keep dropping these word bombs. So, it is three things?
No. No. It’s not three things.

It is just 3 ways of looking at the same thing. It’s 3 UI for the same backend. You can take any one of them and put the other two as an integral part of the same. You can see it as a game like PUBG that needs a community and marketplace to sustain. Or you can see it as a Social Network like Facebook that has games and a marketplace. Or finally, a community-driven marketplace like Meesho or Etsy where games are only for engagement.

It doesn’t look like any of these 3, why is it masquerading as something else?
Well, if you see closely all the other businesses that I talked about have the same 3 elements and they have hooked on to one front-end identity. Cred’s front-end identity is still evolving. And it’s critical, the new identity for a completely new type of community should evolve with time. You can’t just label community culture and create it — it happens, steadily and strategically with people.

Future

Now that Cred has a huge following it just needs to focus on making the high-trust community that we talked about earlier.

What is the “trust” thing that you keep harping about?

Trust is either a democratic opinion or an intuition.

Why are you irritatingly succinct?

Yeah, read that again and think about it.

<pause>

So?

So essentially most of Cred’s focus will be on establishing trust and solving your trust issues. If that means counseling, so be it.

Wait! Do you mean healthcare?
I said no verticals. I am acrophobic.

Okay. I am listening.
Ok.

The market place will keep expanding such that you start looking at cred validation for all your costly choices. Your kid’s school, your second car, your life-partner, your dream home, or your next holiday destination. It looks like an overwhelming number of things in one sentence. But life is long and technology follows Moore’s law. Also, you don’t cred for shopping, you cred for fun.

The game will continue to evolve to encourage higher participation. The next level is to get the next set of people who may not have credit scores like current users, but the ones that the existing cred-ible people trust. The rules of entry will change and instead of credit score, a native cred rating/score will be more valuable (not just within the game). Lending, Investing money will be just another parallel stage in the game — one line item in some corner. The currency of this game is trust, you’d bet trust, trade trust, exchange trust, gain/lose trust. Btw, those two words — trust and currency used together often lead people to crypto.

Did you say crypto?
Yes, but wait. Of course, it’s illegal right now, but, the one lesson 2020 has taught us is that anything is possible. Just like black swans, there could be brown and velvet swans as well. Also, that’s not the point, you don’t come here to play, it’s a socializing place. Right?

Yeah, I know what you did there. Leading to social networking. Huh!
The social network would encourage the formation of communities within the larger umbrella.

How?
Multiplayer Games, discussion forums, hobbies, travel, Q&A, chat, local search — a lot of possibilities. You may see some of them, a hybrid of some of them, or all of them in a well-integrated package in the future. There are N different use cases — from cred-tube, credagram, credinder, cred-fit, credoura to cred-versity, you’d see everything. Some experiments will be lost in the oblivion, some others will stay and become part of the definition.

So would I be taking selfies?
I understand your self-expression is very important for social networking. But it doesn’t always need to be in form of selfies right? Besides, you are here for some thumb exercise and window shopping. Right?

Right. You’re in-cred-ible.
Not really, I am a Cred user.

Whatever.
See creating Trust at scale is not simple. It’s almost like building the whole country again.

What? Okay, you’d need Product-Jio fit for that.
Well, that’s a discussion for another day. When it comes to Jio, I can’t divulge much information.

END.

This is an imaginary beer counter conversation of a teetotaler product guy. An opinion piece. No relation with any business model living or dead. Any resemblance to the future plans of Cred is purely coincidental. If there is #Sci-Fi for science fiction, why is there no #Biz-Fi for business fiction?

On other days I write slightly serious stuff on product management etc.

PS: Those who don’t clap for poets, die of starvation. — Abraham Lincoln (said in my ears)

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Ujjwal Trivedi

Ujjwal Trivedi

Products guy | Sr. Director Products@ MoveInSync | Ex-Artoo Fintech | Ex-CouponDunia | Economics | Cognitive Sciences | Poetry | Volunteer/Director @ Headstart.