InterviewInterview with Co-Founder and CEO, MK Decision – Har Rai Khalsa

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskFebruary 26, 202022 min
Har Rai Khalsa Co-Founder and CEO, MK Decision

Har Rai Khalsa is the CEO and co-founder of MK Decision, a loan origination platform on a mission to make lending simple. MK Decision truly believes community financial institutions are the backbone of our national economy and is driven to stimulate local borrowing and local lending. Before founding MK Decision in 2016, Mr. Khalsa led the growth team at Service Finance Company as the nationwide home improvement lender grew its yearly loan volume from $97M to $2B. At the tender age of 23, Mr. Khalsa became the President of Marketing and Sales for 108 Solutions in 2011. While there, he was responsible for a dozen retail finance locations in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Washington, and San Diego with over 35 employees and $50MM in Retail Installment Contract (RIC) revenue. Mr. Khalsa is an expert in strategy, sales, marketing, and branding with more than 8 years of experience as a FinTech executive. He has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Sociology and Anthropology from Lewis and Clark College.

1. Tell us about your role in MK Decision?
My role at MK Decision (MK) requires that I study the online deposit account opening and loan origination markets in detail to make strategic decisions that will positively impact our clientele and product roadmap. Ultimately, I aim to empower financial institutions (FI) and level the playing field for community FIs with our ever growing product offerings.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
Our first experience with loan origination systems (LOS) goes back to 2007 when my older brother, Guru Dharam Khalsa, and I started a retail finance company that sold electronics, automotive parts, and furniture on monthly payment plans. A big challenge in our business was standardizing our paper-intensive installment contracts, motivating us to create our first-ever LOS in 2011 to digitize and streamline all of our sales processes, including signatures. As a result, we improved the overall shopping experience for our customers and scaled our web sales team. After successfully exiting our finance company in 2014, we surveyed dozens of community banks to understand their problems in the loan origination market. Many of them encountered the same problems we faced back in 2007: paper applications, antiquated websites for their financial products, slow credit decisions, and manual data entry. After going through extensive surveys, and with these four problems in mind, my brother and I founded MK Decision to help bring lending solutions to community FIs around the nation.

3. How do you think technology is developing the Finance Sector?
Technology is modernizing the finance sector and helping FIs accommodate the rising customer expectations for mobile-friendly workflows and fast loan decisions. Technological advancements in fintech make it possible for FIs to remain competitive in the age of immediacy, giving their communities the opportunity to bank local and increase the revenue in their economies.

4. How has an AI driven approach empowered the lending sector?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a tremendous role in the lending sector. While our decisioning products are driven by rules-based methodology, our Product Development team is always looking at how we can use AI to study consumer behavior and credit scores across several geographic regions. We’re committed to helping our customers improve their credit policies over the long haul with the latest technology.

5. Can you explain in what ways do your lending solutions help financial and banking institutions?
MK’s LOS helps FIs improve their customer relationships through our products, SalesFunnel and AppFlow, to provide an intuitive ecommerce shopping experience when browsing and applying for financial products. An educated borrower is a confident borrower, and we’re going above and beyond any other LOS on the market to inform online shoppers before they submit their credit applications. On the back-end, we use CreditConnect, CoreConnect, Dashboard, and DecisionTime to make lending simple for FIs. With these products, data from a FI’s core processor and credit bureau is consolidated in one centralized location and can be leveraged to quickly assess their customers’ creditworthiness through system automation.

6. How does your Dashboard help finance professionals?
MK’s Dashboard helps finance professionals effortlessly collaborate with their team. Once a loan request is submitted, it is uploaded to our Dashboard and a profile for that applicant is created. Here, credit analysts can leave notes for one another and upload important documents, such as proof of income, home ownership verification, or identity authentication, all while Dashboard keeps a detailed audit log. The goal of this digital system is to keep the whole team on the same page when underwriting customer applications. Working in a unified back office allows each team member to provide the best possible customer service.

7. What features of your risk management solution differentiates it in the market?
Where we differentiate ourselves in risk management is in the knowledge-based authentication and device identification spaces. We’re introducing public record quiz questions to consumers in real-time during their application and have deployed device identification to determine whether they are using a known fraudulent device. This allows us to alert FIs of a potential bad actor, saving them money and time since they don’t have to review deceptive credit requests. Additionally, our rules-based decisioning engine, DecisionTime, uses the FI’s existing credit policy to consistently automate credit decisions and dramatically reduce the amount of time spent underwriting. Fintech News

8. What advice would you like to give to the Startups?
My first piece of advice is to find a problem that is worth getting out of bed in the morning to solve.

Building a startup is not easy; unless you have the motivation to get up and learn about your market, your customers, and indirect customers, you will fail.

Secondly, document, understand, and prioritize the requirements of your potential customers before diving into product design and engineering. By fully understanding their needs, you’ll save a lot of time during product development. Lastly, I highly encourage startups to be open and transparent with pilot customers when selling proof of concepts.

9. Which Startup technology has grabbed your attention?
In the last couple of years, several startups have quickly grown to unicorn status. Without a doubt, Stripe, Plaid, and Marqeta come to mind. Stripe is doing incredible things in the payments industry and is migrating rapidly into the lending sphere. There’s a truly inspiring story brewing at Stripe. Next, with Plaid moving into the integration and online banking space, they’re proving to be extremely beneficial to the financial ecosystem, giving companies like MK the infrastructure needed to access and authenticate bank accounts for consumers. Finally, Marqeta is creating innovative technology in the card processing and issuing field that is challenging the status quo of major core processors, bringing real-time solutions to an otherwise antiquated industry.

10. How do you prepare for a Technology-centric world?
We prepare for a technology-centric world by being users of a wide range of technology products. We find inspiration from different industries that help influence the way we approach the lending and online account opening markets. Whether it’s mobile GPS, the ability to search and book plane tickets on the go, or grocery shopping from the comfort of your home, technology has dramatically improved the human experience.

11. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
At MK, our team is our top priority. When building and growing our team, we focus on the character of the individuals who are going to work with us. We want to understand their goals, aspirations, and perceived limitations. Without understanding them, there’s no way we can help them achieve their career and life goals. When we created MK, we set forth four pillars, and we’re proud our team takes them to heart. Starting with “Open Your Mind”; our team is filled with critical thinkers who want to understand the fintech industry and our products to influence the direction of MK. The second pillar is “Do Whatever It Takes”; our team’s sole purpose is to do what is necessary to satisfy our customers. Third is “Do The Right Thing”; this one isn’t just about the way we treat each other, but about transferring that same moral and ethical character to our clients. Finally, “Win Together”; we’re building a company culture devoid of backstabbing and ladder-climbing. Our team is winning together by celebrating each other’s successes as well as our clients’. At the end of the day, we can go home feeling like we did a job well done.

12. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Currently, MK is integrating with FIS Global, one of the major core processors in the United States, and we are an integration partner of Jack Henry and Fiserv. We’re laying infrastructure between the core processors and credit bureaus, building out a financial services ecosystem that helps transactions flow seamlessly from the customer to the lender and all third parties involved. In addition, we’re continuing the expansion of our product suite by introducing deposit account opening for checkings, savings, money market, and certificate of deposits. We’re also launching multiple installment loan products in the home improvement, automotive, and personal loan space. With all this growth, our customers are driving our trajectory and understanding their requirements is helping us build a full-service, retail account opening and loan origination system.

13. Which Book are you reading these days?
I’m currently reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, founder of Netscape Navigator. His entrepreneurial journey is inspiring, and his story is driving change at MK. I’m also reading High Output Management by Andrew Grove, former CEO and Chairman of Intel, which has aided our product processes and helped us educate and motivate our team.

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?
Yes! Our team of designers, engineers, and industry experts help create an environment in which they’re encouraged to collaborate and pursue projects creatively.

Interview with Co-Founder and CEO, MK Decision – Har Rai Khalsa 1

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
My favorite mobile applications include the MLB app and the ESPN app. These sports and entertainment apps have done a great job with their user experience design. Additionally, at MK we’re huge fans of Google Suite. We use G Suite exclusively and really appreciate what Google has done to bring services, such as Gmail, Calendar, Sheets, and Docs, into a cloud-based environment built for collaboration.

FTB News Desk

FTB News Desk

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