SIXCAP: India is a perfect test bed for cashless economy

SIXCAP: India is a perfect test bed for cashless economy

Mumbai was the setting for the first of three CNBC Exchange series organized by CNBC, the world’s leading business and financial news network, in partnership with SIXCAP. The panel discussion explored the challenges and opportunities India faces in its push for a cashless economy.

The demonetization of India’s highest value bank notes (500 and 1,000 rupee) late last year has forced low-income individuals to look to digital solutions for small transactions. While many believed the country does not yet have the necessary infrastructure and digital literacy to bring its people to the digital fold, they were optimistic about the role of India’s start-up scene to drive the country towards a cashless society, said a panel on India’s push towards a cashless economy at the first of the SIXCAP CNBC Exchange series, in which SIXCAP is a sponsor.

The panel discussion was moderated by CNBC correspondent Akiko Fujita, and included key industry figures such as Mr. Ankit Jain, Senior Director and Head of Ola Play, Mr. Shrihara Bhat, Executive Vice President and Group Managing Director of FIS, Asia Pacific, Mr. Venkatesh Hariharan, Director of Fintech at iSpirit, and Dr. Abdalla Kablan, Group CEO of SIXCAP.

 

The lack of internet access, skills, training, and digital literacy

With the proliferation of cheap mobile phones, millions of Indians now have access to the internet. However, communities in remote areas of the country have been largely ignored, and still do not have access to a viable internet connection.

Beyond that, Mr. Ankit Jain pointed out skills and training were needed for teaching digital literacy, safeguarding cyber security and preventing fraud before digital solutions could progress. Adding on to his point, Dr. Kablan warned that “the main challenge is trust in the technology and infrastructure”. The loss of trust in a system built to support cashless transactions would lead to dropout, and subsequently, failure. If these were resolved, Dr Kablan believes that India would be a prime environment to stress-test the transition from a cash-dependent economy to a cashless one. if a heavily cash-driven society like India can move away to a cashless economy, the concept can then be easily replicated by other countries.

When speaking at the opening of the CNBC Exchange series, Patrick Teng, Founder, Chairman and Chief Dealer, SIXCAP, highlighted that the control of wealth is moving away from intermediaries like banks and governments, stating, “The future of money does not depend on technology nor management by governments and institutions. It lies in the motivation and management of communities and platforms.”

This sentiment was echoed by Dr. Kablan, who said, “People are realising they don’t necessarily need banks, but they do need banking. While there is still time to reform the process of banking, we still need to perform this in a traceable and secure manner…This should happen before the push towards a cashless society.”