Amity Institute Of Training & Development

Shaping the future of business in the Digital Economy Read Time: 53 mins

Speaker: - Mr Prasad Routray, Head Corporate Business and Alliances at Airtel Payments Bank

Mr Prasad heads the Corporate Business and Alliance vertical for Airtel Payments Bank. He has 23 years of experience in Sales and Operations and is responsible for P&L at the bank. His key strengths are Business Development, Strategy Planning, Distribution Management as well as Relationship Management. Mr Prasad contributes to furthering the bank's vision by forging relationships and nurturing tie-ups in partnership with Corporate Institutions, Societies etc. by accelerating the banks through the future. He has rich experience in business development B2B, B2C, sales strategy, planning, distribution Management.

Click below to watch the recorded conversation.


AITD: The digital revolution of recent decades with its increasingly exponential impact on human and economic activity is one of the biggest drivers of transformation in all the areas. The unprecedented disruption by COVID 19 is accelerating the urgency for agility, adaptability, and transformation. Industry structures and business models are being disrupted and the digitalization of the economy is being rapidly accelerated and it is estimated that 70 per cent of new value created in the economy over the next decade will be based on digitally enabled platform business models. The exceptional scope of the change has led to the emergence of a new economy which is called the digital economy. To get more insights about the same we will understand the implications, the role of infrastructure, digital financial in transactions, technology innovations and the impact on the new business ecosystem. We have invited Mr Prasad Routray, and we will have interesting insights for him.

So, to come back to our first question which we would like to ask you to get more insights about the same is as we have seen that the coronavirus outbreak may finally accomplish what India’s shock demonetization four years ago failed to achieve. It is fuelled by the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic. India saw a massive shift towards digital transactions. So, my question to you Sir is that is this the opportune time to build a robust economy through safe secure and accessible digital payment solutions in India?

Mr Prasad Routray: First, thank you Ashish Sir for really inviting me and it's my pleasure to be here and we will spend an hour and happy to take more questions if there is.

Let me try to answer your question in two aspects. During this COVID times, I read somewhere if there was a best CTO award this year to go to somebody it's going to be COVID-19 rather than any other CTO. So that's the kind of impact it has got. So, if there was any technology fast-tracking that happened, unfortunately, this was the incident that must happen and therefore everybody got aligned to a digital-first if I really put it. Now to kind of answer your question in detail I think all of us in this room virtually being attending gives an example of how digitally we can take things forward beat your education beat every sector. So, I think digitization irrespective of the sector has kind of really caught up and that has been the primary weapon in the last six months if I had to really put it. Now you used three words in your question saying that is digital the primary, is going to be the accelerated model. Second, you said is it the secured way of looking at it and third is it a primary weapon? So, I think your first two yes, it is one of the biggest weapons second yes digital has been in on the forefront. Secured I think that's the question we must look forward to. I think in this entire story and coming from a banking background now I can tell you that everybody is aware of the UPI success that has happened in the country and possibly one of the biggest stories happening from NPCI. Those of you who do not know NPCI is the National Payment Corporation of India powered by the RBI and it's an answer to global technology on the fintech side. So, UPI is India’s answer to the globe if I put it. So, we are very proud when we use them as a service, we feel proud that it is an Indian made product. But then equally at the same time we have seen a lot of frauds that have taken place, the kind of usage has been immensely high but ask any organization, the security officer's job is a very-very tough job now given that the unprecedented digital economy set up that we have in all set for.

So, I think yes, I have a big thumping yes to the digitality but with cautions that with digitally also brings in a work called security and I think a better-prepared country, better-prepared company or better-prepared start-ups or individual that were right now become wanting to get entrepreneurs if this can be taken care of, I think it is certainly a big-big weapon to take care. Now that's ‘Part A’ of my answer to your question the Part B is if you look at our country and I am not responding to the world what's happening I mean we can talk later that I always divide our country into India, Hindustan, and Bharat. Now digitality might have scored its count on India side may be rubbing its effect on Hindustan but to see Bharat in a truly digital way. So, the other day I was asking somebody that while, and by the way, today's news is that by 16th India crossed one billion transactions in UPI. It's an unprecedented digital transaction happening. But the question to ask do we increase the number of digital users or did we only increase the number of digital usages. I would love to see a statistic that says that India has doubled in the number of first-time users.

Unfortunately, that's not the news, India has incrementally added digital citizens by 15 to 20% only. So, India remains to be a very-very heavily cash economy if I had to really put it. So just to tell you some RBI statistics 80% of India today is cash still after six months of COVID. Had COVID not happened I don't it could have remained at 85 or 87, 88 that's anybody's guess but I would say Hindustan, Bharat we need to solve so that is the way I would like to kind of respond to your question yes digital is a weapon but miles to go I can tell you miles to go.

AITD: Referring to what you said just now that 80% of India is still into cash and it's a very interesting thought which you gave is India, Hindustan, and Bharat. Coming back to the statistics that you were just sharing about the digital one billion UPI transactions according to data from the bank for international settlements BIS digital transactions in India increased by 55% last year as compared to China which was 48%. I mean you might be an expert to tell me that how it has fared in terms of COVID, but this was mainly the outcome of India’s large population with the mobile phone penetration I would say. And payments gradually becoming a way of transaction which also get a lift from UPI as you rightly said which facilitates real-time payments between bank accounts. KPMG reports suggest that India has more than 45 mobile wallet providers and around 50 UPI based wallet providers. So, I would like to know on behalf of viewers how COVID 19 has changed payments and banking behaviours forever and how it has altered the payment landscape in the country or whatsoever digital payments and the transition to a cashless economy, what is the future of cash transactions in India? So just want to have a view on this depending on the data which we are just talking about?

Mr Prasad Routray: First, what are the three things that were a consumer, let me look from the consumer lens and then we will look from the organizations which we are serving the consumers right. So, let me look at the consumer because everything starts in the business to look at what the consumer wants.

First, consumer as much as the organizations got caught into this COVID situation, obviously everybody wanted to change the behaviour. Now culturally people wanted to change the organizations, customers wanted to change the behaviour may be forcefully, maybe they were on the fence and they wanted to do it the first time. The first requirement was that is it convenient enough to really do it because that's always a resistance point that I am used to paying cash which is so good in digital that it will help me do digital. I think the first thing that every consumer wanted was that it must be flawless first time right, ease in which I can do and of course secured, as I, in my first part as I answered. Now I think the payment industry to my mind did have two out of four. The two were that, yes, payments on for example there was always an NEFT there was an AEI, MPS all these banking systems were there but there was UPI out in the corner. It was coming in that UPI was an answer of ease of payment through QR Code Scanning or P2P payments, for example, if I must make you payment, I can just pay you over the phone. So, I think that the convenience of P2P happened so when I am individually transferring to another individual it was always flawless or at least it was easy to do. Of course, there are 45 to 50 as you rightly said wallets, and everybody is fighting his own part of the world but there it will converge probably five-six of you know maximum once, but it has become convenient.

The second one is that there were a lot of policy changes that had already happened, but implementation was happening I don't know how many of you recall the situation of Yes Bank vs. Phone Pay and if you recall everybody was ready with UPI, but they never knew when it strikes bad situation what happens. So, I think that was a learning curve for us as a bank to know that look you need to have multiple banks behind UPI.

So, somebody rightly asked, and this is a question that was thrown to me by one of the other sessions which said that who is the biggest UPI service provider of India. So, a lot of people answered saying it is Paytm, Phone Pay G-pay and everyone. Actually the answer is ICICI bank because behind all this is ICICI bank, HDFC bank, Yes and finally it is banks and we powered some of them you know large players so we are in the top five but I am just saying the top two so fundamentally we had to power a very-very robust infrastructure to support the UPI from the banking ecosystem and that's why unfortunately Phone pay being such a nice Indian company nobody would have liked to fail, so I would say demonetization moment for infrastructure or technology. I would say in the four parts this was the second part which was taken care or is taken care of by God grace, now every large UPI partner you ask me is having three-four five banks you know behind it. I think that's taken care of, so I think that is the reality of one ease which is now taken care of because fundamentally it's now one click away. There is some work to be done in the merchant for example when you are paying to your nearest Kirana store or you are paying to a retail store or you are paying on amazon you will today find lot of a lot of intelligence has gone to payments right earlier you will agree there are five-six clicks to actually getting a final payment done versus today UPI you have max three minimum one, based on what is the value of the transaction. If it is less than two thousand is one click away So I think that is a big benefit that the industry has kind of pushed to help, grow digitally anybody who is little not savvy to technology. But the two which I still believe, and I have answered already the fourth one which is the security part of it which still definitely an area to watch out for because if anything can go wrong and somebody used to say that cyber-attack is more than even today a bomb or a or a physical war that is something, we must watch out especially when a good number of sides are very vulnerable in that nature. And now we are putting our best to do it for example there are a lot of companies that are on the outside cloud they are not in the Indian cloud. So, there is a lot of work going on or gone behind, today Microsoft or Amazon have brought their cloud to India finally and t transitions are happening as we speak and hopefully the transitions will help us secure our data inside the country for example that's work in progress, so that's I think is one area to watch out for.

The fourth area is that how do we help new consumers to come in and what's the effect and effort that both the consumer must put, and we must put, and this is not about just recharges. For example, if you go and ask that anything above 10,000 you will find people pay through debit cards they don't pay through UPI, so there is this high-volume payment or high amount payments always safe to be paid through a Debit card Credit card or Net banking and all. Now can that move also into a UPI environment is the question that we must look forward to Know that's a large change that means fundamentally it may trigger a very differential discussion here but we as a bank for example believe that there is no need for Debit cards and Credit cards. We don't believe in that I mean as a new-age bank if you take an account of an Airtel Payment Bank, we don't give you a debit card we give you a virtual debit card. Because now we believe that the phone is the bank now that kind of change. I would say that there are traditional banks and there are new edge banks.

Now traditional banks because of the cost associated with what they have done very-very resistant to possibly change into this new a change of No-card, Completely Cashless, Go Automated and Mobile only. Now that is the third pillar that we must attack if you can solve that problem gradually by contactless payments or on tap payments or contactless, card systems and all I think it will make a material difference to every one of us. I am sure most of us who carry modern credit cards has a tap model, but we still hand over the debit card or the credit card. We don't tap it, now people like you and all of us who are so possibly educated and on the right side of the education still don't believe in a card being tapped then you can imagine who's on the fence why will he use a contactless card, or a virtual card. I mean that's a long way to go. So, while the journey has started, I think consumers have started to experiment banks and institutions are coming in a very different manner trying to accelerate the number three and the number four. Therefore, give a very sweet spot to the four things that I spoke about.

AITD: So, you have very interestingly talked about the various factors regarding policy ease and cybersecurity. You also talked about on tap, so what I understand and what I know that the feature is going to be this which is related to biometric authentication, tap, and go payment, invisible payments then Alexa coming into picture you also have voice payments, then there would be something called face recognition. So, I am curious to know what is digital future-readiness as far as the organizations are concerned? How do companies prepare for the opportunities and challenges of digitalization? What are the major challenges and opportunities for growth?

I mean how like as you said it is ultimately the consumer which must come and the more the business, we are moving from tier one to tier two, tier-three cities and we require that time for digital infrastructure as far as payment is concerned, so how do you see the digital future readiness of organizations and how can they tap this opportunity?

Mr. Prasad Routray: So, let me divide your Question in two. One is the new technologies that are expected to come in or are already coming in and the second is how are organizations preparing. I think my view of every organization irrespective you are a Mom and Pop’s store or a very large retail chain or you are an e-commerce company.

First, you must be omnipresent. You can't be saying that I am an only e-commerce online company, or you cannot also say that I am only a retail physical company that's gone, that's permanently gone. Any organization today that’s coming in must have a digital distribution and a physical distribution I would say it's a hybrid model because even if the world advances by another five years not everything will still be digital and not everything will still be physical it will always be a hybrid model. The models may change based on which business you are in. For example, if you are in the travel business and you are on the website of travel then it is 90% but you will still have a make my trip physical store just to have a concept about let's say destinations, for example, you would like to sell and so on and so forthright. So, you will be depending on which business category you are in you need to be omnipresent.

Second is that you need to really look at if there is an opportunity of becoming a global player on day one. Because today the opportunity of the globe being a market is reality. You don't have to produce in India and consume in India necessarily today. You can produce in India and make it consumed out anywhere in the world and vice versa get it from the world and consume it in India or get it for India and get it consumed in India. I think the second one would be that whatever product and services organizations have any good bold organization should absolutely try the globe as marketing and figure it out for example markets like us are equal to let's say Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil are similar behaviour markets, cultural may be different but overall the economy and the way the ecosystem is, it's something which you can market for example Brazil has so much of commonalities in terms of businesses like their wallet ecosystem is now emerging as ecosystem right. Our wallet systems are now emerging as an ecosystem for example Airtel Money in Africa is the single largest currency of Africa, the single largest currency they change over not currency I would say exchange of financial products and services is single as is vast.

So, the world is kind of teaching so imagine Africa ahead of India in terms of digital currency behaviour. Now, this is how the change happens so therefore I would say omnipresence and globe as the market the entire globe as the market should be looked at. And if that is in India, I would put it, we must make products and services in a model that can be distributed successfully and consumed in rural India and urban India and that's a long way to go to my mind. Because we do a lot of rural work and I can come up with an example of how much rural work can be there, not just for a bank like us but for many other services.

And I will link this to your first part of the question saying all the other technologies that are coming how it is getting consumed and what's happening. For example, Aadhar as technology and I call Aadhar a technology rather than Aadhar as in service. Now Aadhar as a technology is going to catch us. I mean followed by possibly retain access and all those things because this is the foundation of how India is now seen as a unique right. And both Aadhaar and Retina Scan is a human body linked authentication, which cannot be taken away from somebody. So, it's a zero-defect model anything else that you can create is digitally done can be digitally taken out, but this cannot be cyber attacked and taken. Your fingerprint which must be physically done cannot be taken out. I will just give you some interesting statistics during COVID times Atrial Payment Bank and other Payment Banks have got a license to operate in a rural sector in a big way because that's the way the license is. Surprisingly in the last-to-last month, 47 lakh crores of the transaction took place from a money transfer. Half of it was withdrawn through the Aadhaar ecosystem so if every second money was coming out of ATM which is installed by today's traditional banks, half the second rupee out of this was withdrawn through Aadhar ecosystem. Now how did this happen not 47 lakh crore I think it is 4.7 lack crore. Now look at the benefits that DBT came in you had a 1.47 lakh crore of DBT that came in, this was all withdrawn in the rural sector. Now we were surprised the number of people who queued up in our bank system because fundamentally they never had an identity, they had an account, now how do you take out the money, they had some debit cards or credit cards which was never used for a year or six months, so it is already PIN gone they don't know the PIN and imagine we were telling and one of the videos that got recorded sure that the guy says, “I don’t know what my PIN is” They have written it in English I don’t understand” Now imagine the debit card is printed and young forth English the guy is the absolute regional Guy. He is probably not that educated how will he even read the PIN, forget transacting on the ATM So I am very appalled when people say a Debit card is digital when the guy cannot use it. Whereas this same guy when he comes to an Airtel Payment bank and he says I want to withdraw money out of my State Bank of India account he gives his authentication of his Aadhaar and he puts his fingerprint, and we give him that 500 rupees. So, we became the ATM of the rural part of the world, or I mean during these times. I mean Payment Banks who are into you know Aadhar basis system, so we run a bank which is on Aadhar base. So, we call ourselves as the largest ATM Service Provider of India because we are in two and a half lakh points of results.

So, I think technology how you use it, when you use it, how to use, is very important to really kind of know. I think it is each to the organization that they are representing. So that is how I think technology is now coming in. So, retina access or palm-based listing the other day SBI launched contactless watches along with titan. So now from watches you can pay right so if you are wearing a watch you don't want to take out your debit card credit card you scan your watch, and the payment happens. Now that's a brilliant technology and this is very nice and that is a new UPI transaction so who knew that UPI and the watch and SBI today will get you paid.

AITD: Very-very interesting thoughts and products innovation which you are talking about we will talk about it later also. Now interestingly post COVID all the companies are feeling a lot of pressure in terms of top line and bottom line. According to MIT Sloan Management review thriving in an increasingly digital ecosystem, companies with 50 percent or more of the revenues from digital ecosystem achieve 32 percent higher revenue growth and 27 percent higher profit margins. So, even though they can do this, it's a long way to go as you rightly said because of various factors, various policy matters and or the digital ecosystem, which is transforming but at the pace, which was not, as in comparison to the global pace which we are doing though COVID has accelerated that still, it's a long way to go.

So, what do you think, if it does so much to organizations top line, how do companies can you know to reap in those profits, higher margins for that because like we do a lot of banking training and we have heard that the cost the moment people go to brick and mortar bank and then they start transacting through ATMs or online banking internet banking, the cost gets reduced with every transaction? It changes from 50 rupees from brick mortar bank transactions to maybe couple of rupees when they do it on internet banking. So, from that perspective I was just asking how this digital system will thrive with so much cost-cutting and profit profitability which is in question?

Mr Prasad Routray: I think this statistic is right in terms of the way digital kicks you bottom line for sure because infrastructure wise it is more convenient cost benefits are there and of course consumers you don't require much effort to that I have got a customer or get a customer to transact on you. So, platforms for example today Airtel Payment Bank with its airtel ecosystem almost I can tell you we are looking at close to 10 crore transactions on the platform itself and today we almost have six crore customers coming to the Airtel platform itself every month.

So, it's an unprecedented large opportunity for banks or any other large app for that matter. I think one thing that you must really watch out for is post-COVID will the numbers remain the same or go up. I think that's the question to really and that will test the Chief Digital Officer or the Chief Security Officer or the Chief Technology Officer and of course the behaviour of the bank or any employees or consumers. And that's the worry I will tell you right now in every organization playing. If we lose the traction of course it's like an elasticity we must have stretched it no doubt about it, but it should not go back to a level where you think now it's going to be another effort. I think currently every organization should try or must try to ensure that if there are let's say additional one crore customers how do these one crore new customers stay digitally forever? If half of them go back your cost goes back, and you also lose loyalty, and many other things happen.

So, I think it will be important to find a method to sustain the digital behaviour that has come in. So, I think that's something which we need to really look at and therefore cost wise that will be a big area of focus for CFO also for that matter. The second one I would say as I told you that at the end of the day 80% of India is still cash right. So important for organizations because I mentioned the omnipresence that you must have. For example, how can you get a customer to be first-time digital versus assisted digital versus forcefully digital. I think if you can find the journey cut out, for example, we run an ecosystem where we find out what is the age-wise, geography-wise, behaviour on digitality. So, let's say tomorrow you catch a particular customer who is 25 years below, he is technically a bond digital person, so he should not in some way he must be discouraged to be doing anything else except digital for example I will not use the word discourage but how do you find a way to encourage him to use digital. Otherwise, we are even putting the new India which is young India to even physicality.

I think that's the second point that I would say if organizations can manage one is sustain this change, second is bring in the behaviour of young India digitally first. I think if you can achieve that we will do wonders to the entire scheme of thing and therefore profits certainly but mind you one or there is always a caveat to any good thing that happens. Your data points are exposed to the cyber world you may entirely lose your customer base if you are very vulnerable to access to your data. So, I always say that look digital is good till it is not attacked.

So, therefore, today it's very important that as we scale the mountain of digitality I hope there is an insurance to cyber-attack created that if we fall, we can really kind of take care of our customers otherwise you will lose the loyalty, you lose details, your customers, you lose so many things. So therefore my sense would be we should behave like a mutual fund that is digitality but keep a physicality keep a backup plan of B you must, for example, we advise all of us, we do intense interaction with customers to know how are they feeling, what is happening we must meet them even if it is over video is very-very important because if you don't see warm bodies, if you don't meet them or if you don't at least interact or see face to face, you might lose something which is possibly visible on body language, but not visible in the words. So, it's very important to kind of keep that touch from customer service and customer loyalty and customer set up. So, these are the two or three I would look forward to organizations to do in my sense.

AITD: What you were saying is that there are terms which we normally used to these days Phygital which is physical as well as digital and talking about the customer experience part people don't even know how to read because in English and the pin is attached to it. Now what we have been seeing is there had been a paradigm shift from product to customer experience. I mean nobody is like what Amazon has done to India, it is more about the experience that customers getting so the world is moving from product to a customer experience from that perspective, when customer experience is at the heart of future of payment revolution because 80% as you said is cash it will be the endeavour of the country as well as in the interest of the payment banks and the economy will move these people towards more and more people to the digital payment system.

So how does Fintech will have to leverage new technologies and digital innovation to make the customer experience more convenient, that you said about flawless, secure? So how do and what digital innovations are required in the current situation to have the best customer experience for consumers?

Dr. Prasad Routray: It’s now quite overused so-called analytics if I have put it email and all but important more than the analytics which these fintech companies must do or all of us do apart from seeing because you will get a lot of data because of digital behaviour you will get lots of insightful of consumers right and therefore rightly said the world has moved to consumer war versus product war. Product war is a one-month job max or 24 hours minimum. You can match the product.

So therefore, that war is settled and so it's now finally consumer war now. Consumer war is therefore today using consumer insights becomes the most important factor for FinTech’s to begin with. For example, there are so many lending companies but during these times it has separated boys from the menu because while NPS you may not be hearing, and we are aware of some of the NPAs. There are a lot of companies very large organisations we are right now sitting on a very high maybe around more than 8% to 10% if not more on NPAs. Why they're sitting on NPAs is that when you acquired a customer what was the tool that you used to really know the behaviour of this customer what kind of tools did you use. So, therefore, there are companies who are very smartly sitting on less than 3% - 4% and there are companies that are sitting on 10% - 12% and that tells me that when you did an AI email platform ecosystem on the fintech who had the better data insight, is the winner on this case and keeping in mind that there will always be customers who will have to intend to pay and not intend to pay. Let's keep that bracket away but the rest of it is a bad loan for example so I would strongly suggest that now analytics and going deeper into analytics when I say deeper into analytics for example we do a lot of transactions on the NPAs which is an Aadhar Enabled Payment System you can easily make out that the migrant labourer who moved from the current jobs that they had before COVID to the rural sector how will the Aadhar Enabled Payment System work and therefore what is the infrastructure that you need to have and therefore what kind of security and ecosystem that you should develop or get prepared for. Now, these are some of the insights that you get when you analyse data, so therefore our infrastructure in Bihar, UP, North East was kind of almost upgraded to two or three times to ensure that the traffic that has shifted to these states must be taken care of.

So, I think it's important that we take care of these kind of cuts and analysis in the fintech side when we do lending for example. This second one I would say while there are a lot of lenders who have come in and that will be segment base lending that will be important now. For example, there is micro-lending that is possible some people may say that I would like to lend into the farmers and farming segment because that's the green shoot of India today in agricultural lot of people have bet on agriculture to revive our economy and so forth.

The sectorial part of the story, that how do you do lending, and how do you look at opportunities is another way to look at how you prepare yourself for these situations. So, net-net I think depending on which business you are in especially on the fintech side I can fairly tell you that there are sharp winners and sharp losers in this. Some banks will be in very bad shape and some banks will have been in very good shape because they predicted it or so they had prepared the data points in such a manner they could have survived the COVID and some of them are survived are like no customers that. So, kudos to those banks and NBFCs and MFI who have done that and the ones which are not done is clearly states that we have not analysed this data bank.

AITD: I was the other day listening to Mr Viral Acharya, ex RBI Governor and he was talking about the microlending part. Now it would be more of the cash flows which will decide the microlending part rather than you have the collaterals which normally the banks taking and that is where the NBFC's have had an edge or they have created a niche market because they have major control over the payment collection part and they can tailor-made products for people that is something which is really important and this will I think to lead to that digitalization which we are talking about because some choir banks , if you are able to develop products which are tailor made for the consumers and if you give them kind of ease without going into a lot of paperwork and things like whether “aapke pass hai ye ki Nahi hai, aapke yeh document hai ki Nahi hai” so that will microlending what you're talking about will actually ease and from 80% what you talking about the cash it may take a faster track in terms of digitalization of payment bank system.

Dr. Prasad Routray: You are right actually, today if you look at, we work with 100 plus NBFCs, MFI and some banks we do a large collection management services because of our sheer presence 2.5 lakh points of presence so lot of companies use our infrastructure to make the micropayment done. For example, Ujjivan bank works with us it's a new age small bank. What they have done is that they earlier, every NBFC has an agent-based collection model do you know you they will send an agent, and somebody will collect, and they will deposit cash.

The model that they changed for example during these times, and they populated the Airtel points of presence by saying you go to the nearest Airtel payment bank point and just deposit your EMI. They communicated that to the consumers so they eliminated the middle layer and they started pushing consumers by giving incentive that we will deduct a percentage of interest if they go and do it. Now therefore what happened is they smartly got EMI collection done through these physical points of presence by associating with the bank like us. They also kind of illuminated this middle layer of issue during COVID times of his physical distribution. Third is they have incentivised the customers to come in and deposit the money right. This is a classic example of a bank working with another payment bank and combining to give a solution for example.

So NBFCs and MFIs who can challenge the traditional 30 years of operation by saying I have an agent so I have a collection manager you have to get eliminate the collection manager now second look why do you need a collection manager either you do an EMI collection on digital and add on to that I'll tell you BBPS ecosystem which some of you to understand Bharat Bill Payment System which NPCI has got 14 categories where you can pay through digitally model. EMI is a category.

Now we struggled to tell NBFC's why don't you come on that EMI platform they don't want to come on the EMI platform because understand and there is still cash and there is a bit of grey cash management versus if a customer starts paying digital so there is chicken and egg story here but having said I think they have started to realise that if a customer is wanting to pay digitally what happens then how do you collect money of extra and report why and all that things that normally used to happen is out of the window when you go digital.

I think most of the top management or the middle management of the companies have started realizing that BBPS system of digital EMI collections from Government BBPS payment bank plus banks innovating, this is a competition and complementing model coming here and available. Models are available RBI has done a good job by giving hell out of cash to make the economy cash rich back by giving lending. Now unfortunately it is with public sector banks and I'm using the word unfortunate because I mean you give it to private sector; they will tell you what can be done. So, this is where the problem lies you give it to people who cannot take that bold step how do you take that step. Now not that they're not taking now I'm not taking an example of SBI they are obviously much modern, they have a good app. SBI is a very differentiated bank and I have got the highest respect. But imagine the tale, we need to really figure it out, in India, there is a very beautiful where the fintech world is, one is on the extreme side there are Payment Banks Neo Banks, FinTech’s and the other extremes are there are Cooperative banks, local banks ACGs and all. I mean there is somewhere something called as 1950 and there's something called as 2050. So, this is an interesting puzzle to solve but I can tell you heart of it lies with the success storey to those players for the boldness to change permanently. Second go omni channel and third redistribute or revisit their business plans or how to acquire a customer. I think that will be important I have an outlook on it.

AITD: We've talked a lot about the digital part and the consumer experience part and the lending part, now I will shift a little bit towards a new dimension which all the financial institutions that move totally and decisively to embrace the future of work realities because of COVID 19 best position to succeed in future, I mean things are changing. This includes a new work environment, new ways to collaborate since you are heading the alliance partner, so this includes new work environments in ways to collaborate new digital skillsets for required it's important that as you said that people don't even know how to deal with a PIN and things like that so how do we train them.

So digital skill set required for like banking correspondence we have, Mitra which we call in rural areas they try to facilitate these payments. So, this new method of releasing technology to augment human capabilities so what is your view on this. How do we augment human capabilities to accept this and move ahead?

Dr Prasad Routray: Let me try to answer in three phases here one is for people who are still coming to the world to get the first job if I had to it. First, this is a new world where you need to be prepared to be working from anywhere, for working for any company, for working for any hours. So, the new norm is you can work from anywhere, so I think while there is comfort but there's competition. Today if you look at traditional managers, they used to say I have a position available in Delhi now that's not the line from recruiters anymore. They're saying I have a position available for this job they don't describe which location, so any HR guy who's not practising this is not an HR guy anymore or any companies are not practising will not exist in the world because it gives you unprecedented access to the right talent. So, guy sitting in Kerala maybe at the remotest of Kerala can rewrite your code for example so we must hire him.

So therefore, why do you prepare yourself for a global opportunity also prepare for a war to this extent of talent. I call it a war because you are no more the elite class to say okay look if I've done from this college this thing, I am the right set of guys because fundamentally many people are saying look now that there is no constraint of, I am leaving my city I can be the guide to really watch out for. So, I think that's one for everybody coming from any large or reputed institute of yours or for that matter any other institute. So be well prepared that this is a good shock to take into your stride.

Second is that you need to be prepared to be ready for new markets. Gone are the days where if you join a consultancy company you will be operating out of her New York office for that matter or Bangalore office or Bombay office that's gone you need to be in the field. This is the traditional Hindustan Unilever Model which we all come from where fundamentally if you need to really know your customer while digitally half of your customers will pay you that is still 50% of customers who don't touch base with you. The only way you can touch bases is physical which is the word you used Phygital.

In early times I would say that you must ensure that the market knowledge of physical infrastructure-based services which is necessary to really survive as a company you need to acquire that. So, one skill set you will be global you would be equal receipts in terms of remote place and urban placed manpower opportunity, or talent 2nd is that please know the market faster than others knowing. The third one I would say look this was a word that got coined by one of the founders from Bank side and he generally said that in today's world you need to have a skill set of journalists and need to have a skill set of specialists both. You can’t say okay by the way I'm an engineer and therefore I'm entitled to engineering or I'm a doctor I am entitled to surgery.

Except some very special skills like robotics or spaces and all if you need to be a successful person you need to have both the skills and this will not come sequentially so that's the third ingredient I would say that will be needed and therefore that is something which can only be picked up by experience there are no books which will teach you what is generalist way of actually operating because that is human skills which you bring in terms of your behaviour your set up so maybe organisation behaviour whoever is teaching would possibly help you out, but I'm just generally saying that that is something which we need to be ready with and the biggest one is how can you be fresh I knew with the knowledge that is needed today and not valid for tomorrow.

For example, as we speak the world has moved from 2G to 3G to 4G in telecom the world has moved from debit card, credit cards to UPI. Now, who knows that is somebody something called UPI next. So I always tell to people who come from and we have organisations and in which we have people from RBI and other banks and all we tell look I think the guy who is 25 years sitting next to you at the equal stage because with your 30 years of experience in a bank or this thing UPI is new, so this is a new world so how do you take care of the newness in technology, policies, markets and be up open grabbing out there.

I think that’s skill is going to be the defining skill. If we miss one of these four you may become a middle manager or possibly a good manager to lead a particular team but if you have 4, I think you are nothing short of an entrepreneur. Under the last one is I would say if somebody must prepare during these times, I will say you couldn't have asked for a better time in India to be an entrepreneur.

There are so many opportunities as to become an entrepreneur I can't tell you, I was telling somebody that you know we wish we had this opportunity to the only way one does is that on individual capacity once starts investing into some starters at the only thing you can do when you are in the job but I wish we had a start-up for ourselves I mean for individuals I mean age is not a constraint but in general saying so, therefore, I would encourage in today's world we should have 100 Ambani's created and it’s possible because there is no dearth of an idea there is no dearth of money there is no dearth of support and I would say the government is also wanting to really make it conducive as much as possible. I would say this is an unprecedented opportunity in our country to really say that we possibly are the economy to watch out for in the next 5 to 7 years hence today’s teams or people who are working out or coming out of colleges and campuses must boldly go for entrepreneurship followed by the 3-4 skills that I wish they have and therefore can be of competitiveness.

AITD: Coming from a background we are into education and training and we upskill people and train people so trying to understand how you take upskilling your people at this point of time, what are the focus areas you think that to be focused on besides we talk about well-being these days people are working from home, business is lost, how did they come to do more sales and better performance and things like that. So how do you see how you as an organisation do is looking forward to upskilling your Airtel Payment Bank employees?

Dr Prasad Routray: So, before I answer the upskilling part let me tell you during these times employees who do not love the company, those companies will die. So first forget the upskilling. Are our employees loving the company, because this is a time where the company can respond better so that the employee knows the company standing for me and I can tell you unofficially while a lot of people spoke about that we have done best in during these times, there had been a lot of firing across sectors?

Very few companies who kind of stood to the like a man and said that look even if we take the hit on the chin, we're not doing any kind of in a down gradations in terms of staff manpower and all these things because that was one of the biggest things that one any organisation should do or must do. I think during these times I would say stand by your employee saying that your job is safe irrespective of the market we will take care of you. Any company which is done that I can tell you they must have scored pretty high not just from a loyalty what they will get back from these employees what they could have never expected as a return I can fairly tell you that and we work closely with the some of the partner ecosystems I can fairly tell you when we paid, for example, our 25,000 employees who are outsourced and they do work for us and we said we will take care of your payment I can tell you that we must have got so many calls saying that you are one organisation who is going out of the call of your duty to say even if you work for the partner ecosystem we will take care of your salary.

We went to the extent of giving COVID care, cover, and everything right. Now that's obviously as a group we did but I think that's very important that psychologically and emotionally are you taking care of the employee or not that's number one. Now let's come to the skilling part that you said I think first thing is that while in this situation while still even if you take care, we will be in flux by saying are how many months how many salaries may be “aaj mil rahe hai Kal nahi milega to kya hoga” and all. The first thing we said what they like they should continue to do what they don't like they should call out so unlearning vs. learning if I must put it. For example, we trained a lot of manpower who didn't have a job on the street because the streets were closed to do the call centre job of calling customers and talking to customers and finding out what they're doing. We reskill them in the call centre saying yeah look we want 100 people or 200 people or 500 people we must reach out to our clients saying Sir we understand that you are in trouble or you are doing well and I think we gained a lot of insights when consumers started writing that you are one company who reached out a stage and said it's fine if you have not paid me this or paid me that but we are calling you for your wellbeing to understand now I know what is the impact of that as the as a bank because we're in the rural sector and the rural sector was the most head, to begin with of course after that the thanks to government and RBI lot of funds and DBTs and benefits you. But I think that unlearning I mean and that's for somebody who was doing a sales job now doing a customer care job is called as upskilling and reskilling if I must put it. So, I think those are some of the things that organisations.

I am sure most of the organisation who are agility wise high are flexible are in a very start-up environment would do it. But more importantly, I would say one thing that they must now acquire is everybody should know basics of digitality. So, any people anybody who's kind of doing any kind of course or anything they must know that digital will be either 10%, 20%, 30%, 50% or 80% of any organisation but digital is in. So, any skills which are related to digital behaviour you must acquire. I think that's very important for example I was telling my legal team how I can legally close contracts digital way. They are saying “hamare yahan physical paper chahiye, hamare yahan sign hoga” I said it is not there what I want to do my business. It took a lot of time for them to get convinced now it is a digital signature even if it is authorised and they still went and said whenever COVID goes down can I get the physical paper, so they are still not leaving it.

The reality is I'm asking them that why do you need the document it is digitally signed it is Aadhar authenticated signature from both sides it is both organisations standing by. These are two organisations just that two individuals’ signs. So, these are small behaviours, but these are impactful changes that you need to bring. So, it can happen that legal counsellor or illegal ecosystem would say no – no we don’t believe in that. So, in fintech, you would agree that it's a very-very regulated environment. So, to bring saying that digital behaviour in a regulated environment is a very interesting unlearning and learning skill I can tell you.

AITD: Talking about legal and all we have now come up with E stamps also like during COVID I had to sign certain contracts and that was done on the E stamp paper, so I mean things are moving and that is why I was talking about reskilling part because people also have to move that kind of a pace because if technology is changing and people are moving in that pace then you are there where you are. It has been very-very interesting, and I wish we can go on and on for hours and hours because such interesting insights we are getting from your Mr. Prasad. For the sake of time, we have very few moments which are left so I just take up my last question from you which is from the audience. It is believed that we have seen more innovation in the next five years than that we've seen in the last 30 years So what is the future of payment banks in the next five years that's the question which one of the participants has asked me.

Dr Prasad Routray: So, I think I love that question because the other day when I was speaking to you a lot of people when they took the licence with a lot of excitement rather than logic. We were very clear that we will stay in this game also I will give you some statistics we will tell you that why this space is going to be the most exciting space apart from many things that are happening in the country. First, despite so many banks and NBFC's. MFIs and Cooperative Banks and all India are only 1/3rd banked.

India continues to have two third people unbanked. So that is a large opportunity there. Payment bank licences have some beautiful clauses, a lot of people said that is a restriction I don't think that restrictions at all when I say at all I mean it. First, the fact that you are not allowed to do lending you will have to think innovative, so this is a licence which tells you to innovate. I mean thanks to RBI what other banks couldn't do because they were busy giving lending and taking money and making money they never thought about the consumer or they thought about the consumer, but they thought about the consumer who gives them profit.

Payment banks are a company especially like us who are for a cause not that we are not having aspirations to have profit and become equally and Unicorn, but our job is to get the rural side of India banked. I think as I told you now just to give you some stylistics today, we are opening 50,000 bank accounts a day. The entire industry opens close to 30,000 to 40,000 accounts a day so that this so-called X number of banks in today’s like for even today by evening 6:00 PM Airtel bank must have added 50,000 customers and though entire banking industry must have added 30 to 40 thousand accounts. The reason is simple we are in deep rural servicing people who have never seen a human being with a proper in a banking system at all. We are in those pin codes where the government has called out that there are no banks till 10 kilometres so when I say banks that means ATM included so we serve those kinds of terrain that kind of complex zones.

So, therefore, we are very clear that five years from now when I'm going back to my first minute when India becomes Hindustan becomes India and Bharat becomes Hindustan will suddenly find a bank which is possibly like SBI saying oh by the way for five years Airtel payment bank has been servicing this village. I think that is such an emotional moment of truth for us and a cause. So, for people who have worked tirelessly in Airtel I mean I worked for 20 years in Airtel, so it plays in our blood. We are very clear we're serving the country for a purpose. Now if you are not an employee or a citizen not thinking on those lines, I think you should not work in the banking sector. You cannot work for a bank for-profit you should work for the country first. The bank will make its money and no customer is trusted to who never like the bank to close they will like the bank to win. I think therefore it's a payment bank has got a great future and the fact that we are opening so much of bank accounts and I told you about 100 NBFCs work with us because they don't have a cash management service, for example, we do a lot of micro loan management services we do a lot of for example we are right now launching a current account on video KYC over Internet right the first time in the industry current account will be opened in half an hour.

It takes a lot to open a current account because we do video KYC and now, we have a C KYC available, and you can do it in half an hour. Now imagining somebody is opening a small shop and he would like to have a current account it is to take months in that area or 15 days to get an account opened, so those are some of the problems that we are solving and therefore I would say it's a very exciting side. The last one on the urban side the Neo bank is making this our rural side of the story. You would argue no customer’s that what is a Neobank now Neobanks are the banks of our nature who will challenge the traditional behaviour of bank saying there is something called a Savings Bank account. Now I hate this word personally called Savings Bank account I am not here for saving the new generation is not there for saving. They are here to create wealth. Now wealth is not created by saving, wealth is created by rotating money.

Now companies or banks who help knew it’s consumers or knew it’s teenagers or new age banking first-time digital bankers to take care of wealth, will make an important differentiator to lives of youngsters. I think we're in that business. So, my request to all of you are on the call is if you have never used Airtel Payment Bank give it a try. You'll be surprised the way the urban proposition and the rural proposition for every possible opportunity that India produces, Hindustan or Bharat produces we take care of him. I look forward to an Association I will come back to you especially for Amity as a proposal for a contact list campus solution across India and you must experience that.

AITD: Thank you so much for all for a wonderful insight and if I sum up digital payments in the next five years, I think 3 words which you used was flawless, ease of operations and security. So that is something which will give it rampant pace for all of us before we just anything which you like to address or sum up it up.

Dr Prasad Routray: Thank you so much it was lovely to have you and of course the participants I wish the Institute a lot of luck I will be happy to be in the Institute in physical form kind to interact with people and possibly students. I understand we have an association with you will continue to have the association. Looking forward to deeper partnerships with Airtel and Bharti group and Airtel Payment Bank in specific.

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