Re-imagining India – the global payments factory of tomorrow


My title is based on my favourite book “Imagining India” by Nandan Nilekani. Though I now live in the UK, I am fortunate to be a global worker and when I analyse news on India it is always with fond affection for the country of my birth. As India celebrated its 66th Independence Day a few days ago, this blog series is dedicated to focussing on its achievements over the last decade and imagining where next for this amazing country.

Transformation at home

clip_image001In the 1990s the Telecoms revolution opened the doors to a new level of progress for India. Entrepreneurs freed from shoddy fixed-line services today manage little empires from mobile offices based on a trusty cell phone, a less reliable pair of chappals and an occasional rickshaw ride. The figure shows the steep growth of mobile connections in this, the second most populous country in the world.

Now India has an opportunity to usher in the next revolution: based on Aadhaar identity, real-time money transfer across the length and breadth of the country, card payments through the RuPay domestic card scheme and mobile wallets that can be used to cut through layers of middle-men and go direct to the consumer. The mobile phone is truly evolving into an “office in a box”, as it becomes a means of identification, information dissemination and payment. Digital payments are set to revitalise the domestic economy and create a strong impetus for the next stage of growth. At 60 million, the MSME sector of India is just getting started and reduction of friction in payments will grease the wheels.

It is not gold but cashless payments that holds the key to India’s future. Money going digital is the solution that is needed to control black money and stop the flight of capital. As the need for cash payments reduces it will be so much easier to eradicate behaviour that destroys the very fabric on which poverty reduction measures rest.

Transformation abroad

As I write this Wipro has just been named amongst the top 3 in the 2013 Global Outsourcing 100 list. The list ranks companies on parameters including customer experience, global presence and competencies. In the 1980s I am proud to have been a part of the revolution as Wipro led by Azim Premji (my first employer) along with Infosys (Narayan Murthy, Nandan Nilekani), Tatas and countless others set out to prove that a power cut or two could not stand in the way of a good nation turning itself into the IT Centre of the world.

I believe prerequisite conditions now exist for Indian entrepreneurs to craft a new success story. This story will build on past successes, using technology to create innovative digital money solutions for the world, just as India did in the space of Information Technology.

Can India make payments cheaper, faster and more secure by injecting low cost value added services and payment platforms into payment chains for the new online “global customers”? There are many factors to support this. In my next blog I expect to touch on the many recent changes that perfectly poise the country to capitalise on new payments, at home and abroad.

This entry was posted in Branchless Banking, Digital Money, Digital Payments, Mobile Money, Reimagining India by Charmaine Oak. Bookmark the permalink.

About Charmaine Oak

Charmaine Oak is the practice lead for Digital Money at Shift Thought. She has over 27 years of experience of creating and delivering solutions to market. Her skills and experience are at the intersection of mobile, banking and payments. She brings a unique perspective, having contributed to significant ventures at leading global companies: Western Union - one of the world’s largest financial brands, France Telecom/Orange – a leading mobile operator, Royal Bank of Scotland – a leading bank, LogicaCMG – the Pioneer in SMS and Wipro – one of the world's largest IT service providers.

2 thoughts on “Re-imagining India – the global payments factory of tomorrow

  1. This Re-Imagining India blog entry offered both a retrospective and a forecast for the future of Digital Finance in the structure of India in the future.
    I am still enjoying the various articles written in India 2061 – which can be downloaded from the Cogito website. It forecasts the future in arenas as diverse as sports and life insurance. When read in conjunction with this blog entry, I was excited by the spirit of hope and opportunity for India over the next 50 years.

    With the need to feed an aging and growing urban-based population, many forecast the use of technology – particularly mobile – in playing a pivotal role in enabling access and governance, particularly for rural areas, to the necessities of life. While it does its share of alerting us to the need for early intervention in the areas of water consumption and energy guidance, the book augurs the power of a sleeping tiger to solve its own problems (and therefore some facing other nations) through intelligence and education.
    There were a number of references to the explosion of mobile banking as an enabler.
    Re-imagining India complimented those and expanded my frame of reference and thinking in this area. Thanks.

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