Cryptocurrency has gained its prominence now more than ever in India. The first day of Bengaluru Fintech Summit offered an eclectic mix of business leaders from various backgrounds, who commented on topics ranging from legal tech, digital currency, cryptocurrency, regulations, startups, digitalization, globalization, and their interrelations.
Arifa Khan, the founder of Fintech Storm and CEO of Himalaya Capital Exchange kicked off the summit with an inaugural keynote on Future of Fintech, which touched upon the convergence of tech, fintech and digital platforms all over the world, the India stack that is facilitating great innovation in the Banking & Financial Services sphere and how India is poised to take a leadership position in global fintech because of its unique market demographics, huge appetite for consumer and SME finance, and the growing foreign investment dollars this sector has started attracting since 2014.
Mr Rahul Bhasin followed with a scintillating session on The era of Artificial Intelligence, providing riveting examples of how AI is inconspicuously becoming an integral part of our daily lives.
Saru Tumuluri, CEO of Khosla Labs, in a panel discussion, pointed out that India is seeing a rise in startups, because of the new advent age of co-working spaces, and students are also seeking employment with startups and growing with them, hence their talents are helping startups become unicorns, agreeing to her point, Ankit Ratan, Signy, expresses market growth and startups are growing parallel to each other and not in sync, which is the reason why startups not scaling quickly, and employees do not exit rich in a startup in India, except for a few cases.
Mr. Rahul Bhasin, Barings Pvt Equity India, spoke on the importance of businesses staying connected to their consumers, he brought our attention to why startups might scale quickly, but suddenly hit a dead end, the reason being that as companies they grow the focus on having more departments than on customers’ needs, the companies that have scaled invested heavily in market research, he backed this up by pointing out that Netflix, who is a big player in the entertainment sector, is constantly monitoring what its consumers watch, and re-watch, using algorithms, they ensure consumers will stay engaged on the app, and continue paying subscription.
He adds on that, it might happen that companies may start out and realize their consumers are demanding for different solutions than what the companies offering, and if they want to survive they have to change their company’s agenda to meet the customers, that was the case of OYO, this company started out to be the Airbnb of India, but realized that people do not have a spare bedroom, and changed to suit the market. Mr. Rahul Bhasin advice companies to respond quickly to consumers, by setting out the example of British Airways delaying their response by four days, causing customers to backlash at the airline.
B C Thiruvengadam
Regulations and compliance requirements have increased, but the investment in legal tech hasn’t. Mr. B C Thiruvengadam, Thiru and Thiru, says that companies invest less than 0.2% in legal tech, because of the stereotypes that exist around them. On the hot topic about artificial intelligence replacing lawyers, he says, it is a big no and a small yes. To add on to this, Mr Jaideep Reddy, points out how lawyers are no longer seen as a gatekeeper to law, and law has become accessible to everyone as everything is available on the internet, but it is not replacement to having a lawyer because amendments to regulations are fickle, and businessmen do not have the time and energy to keep up.
On a panel discussion, Mr. Gokul Alex, PWC and Mr. Vikram Venkateshwarsam, Deloitte, cover important topics on how with the support of the government, businesses are moving rapidly to the age of digitalization, to ensure a healthy growth a centralized government institution to help guide businesses is needed. Our banks, Mr. Vikram Venkateshwarsam, Deloitte, says are at par with the world because RBI mentors them and ensures they do not lag behind. The discussion moves towards the success of Paytm, and they credit it the efforts of the company being able to address a fundamental need, that is, with the age of digitalization consumers want to go cashless, and also want increased convenience in transactions.
Up next we had, Mr. Venkat Raju, Global Connect, gives us insights about how our mentality might be blinding us, he goes on to share that investment banks are seen as “villains” and companies like Uber and Airbnb who are actually money hogging middlemen are ironically seen as “heroes”; be careful he said, today’s heroes can become tomorrow’s villains. He then points out the hypocrisy of JPMorgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, in September 2017 had originally called Bitcoin a “fraud”, are now rolling out the first US bank-backed cryptocurrency to transform payments business, he very wisely termed this a bait and switch case.
Our last speaker was Ms. Arifa Khan, Founder of Fintech Storm and CEO Himalaya Capital Exchange, she confidently reassured us that we are no longer in the skeptical stage in the cryptocurrency market, we are now at the acceptance stage. Risk-loving financial institutions are openly embracing this technology and many more are seen to follow them. The investment and growth are on the rise and it is predicted that cryptocurrency will take the market by a storm.
Overall, by attending this fintech event, I felt that Even though, the Fintech industry is thrilled about blockchain, the technology might take a few more years to become a mainstream financial model. Like any other emerging technology- Blockchain poses certain challenges that need to be addressed to fully utilize its potential in the financial services industry.
Although the Blockchain technology is still in the developing phase, the possibilities are still being explored. It is important to research and keep moving with the new innovations to make the best use of this technology and fully transform our financial processes in our day-to-day life.
Thus, India needs an effective solution to resolve major issues including middlemen intervention, data breaches, corruption, and tampering of financial ledgers. However, blockchain as an emerging superpower seems to be the most reliable solution. The fresh developments in blockchain technology and the outlook of the leaders and government on the blockchain are in favor of India capitalizing on the technology.