Female Leader Spotlight: Padmini Gupta

Padmini Gupta is the CEO & Co-Founder of Xare.

Tell us about yourself, your background, and your journey to founding Xare.

I knew I wanted to become a banker from the age of 9, even though it was a strange career choice for girls back then. When I did eventually become a banker – in the middle of a recession in California in the 1990s – I worked with women and minority-owned businesses, bringing them into the banking fold and helping them grow.

The vision of financial inclusion for all put me on my entrepreneurial journey. I founded RISE, a fintech platform that democratizes access to essential financial services for millions of migrants globally. And Xare, which enables anyone, anywhere to share money with anyone, anywhere.

What is it exactly that Xare does?

Xare allows anyone to create and distribute virtual credit or debit cards within their circle of trust. It is a user-generated financial platform for sharing money instantly and for free, with no intervention from a bank or agency. And the recipient gets to shop directly on the app from hundreds of local and global stores.

Xare is an innovative disruption – one that opens the frontiers of decentralized finance – but what we find exciting is the impact it has on the lives of people who have been ignored by traditional banking.

Tell us about the current Fintech ecosystem in MENA

As per estimates, non-cash payments in the UAE alone are expected to account for 73% of transaction volume by 2023 (compared to 39% in 2018) and are growing strongly across all payment types (B2B, B2C, B2G, etc.). The MENA region is on the cusp of a fintech Cambrian explosion with hundreds of fintech companies serving every niche across markets within the coming decade.

There has also been a sea change in the regulatory landscape in the last four to five years with the emergence of several sandboxes, coupled with the active role played by innovation hubs like Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

Even though the region is buzzing with fintech activity, there is still a long way to go. For instance, the absence of viable multi-market banking-as-a-solution (BAAS) solutions is a significant barrier to potential fintech. Another peculiarity in the area is how well fintech products like BNPL which are independent of banking partners have scaled. That’s a great opportunity. As banks begin to warm up to collaborations, the region’s capacity to develop deeper integration solutions like neo bank will grow.

You have achieved great success! You recently nearly doubled the amount of money shared on your platform from $600 million in the last quarter to over $1 billion. What do you attribute this success to?

We knew from the get-go that Xare was a transformative idea. As a product, it has the potential to change how people use financial products in their daily lives. But Xare is a successful innovation because it goes a step further to impact how communities share financial resources for achieving their goals. In our two-year journey, we are fortunate to have found like-minded merchant partners and investors who share our success.

What are your goals for the next 5 years with Xare?

For us, the way forward is to forge meaningful partnerships for improving our offering, introduce innovative financial products on the Xare platform, and continue to grow our user base.

What are your personal goals?

I am a passionate advocate for society’s ignored voices like unbanked migrant workers, SMEs, and women-led businesses that need easy access to finance. I am a mentor and advisor to several start-ups and play an active role in supporting women entrepreneurs through my involvement with Dubai Businesswomen Council, and Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (SHERAA), to name but a few.

What has been your biggest career success?

I have always been a strong proponent of the importance of financial independence and co-founded Rise, and then Xare as a way to combine my financial expertise with the desire to drive important social change. Achieving this has been my biggest success.

As a female leader breaking barriers, what is the biggest obstacle you have overcome?

Finance has always been a male-dominated domain anywhere in the world. So, I’ve had to carve my own space by doing things differently. As a businesswoman, I strongly believe that purpose trumps profit – this drives me to build and support communities that can benefit from fairer financial systems.

Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East