Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Jaguar Land Rover Wants Its Future Cars To Be More Aerodynamic

simplezoom-img

Jaguar Land Rover aero tricks will help in conserving fuel

Highlights

  • Jaguar Land Rover might adopt these aero packs in future products
  • The application is complex but the ideas are simple
  • JLR wants to channel air across the body to make cars more efficient

Automakers have a lot to think about now-a-days, making autonomous technology, building safer cars and of course making it look good. Aerodynamics too plays a major role and Jaguar Land Rover is taking note of this. The future vehicles coming out of the JLR stable could turn out to be more aerodynamic and the new patent shows the company’s plans for an extensive collection of tricks for channeling air around the side of the body. It’s clear from these patents that JLR want the body of the car to produce less drag and this will ultimately lead to better fuel efficiency.

In these patent drawings, you can see how the vehicle sees deployable vanes up front. When not in use, the strakes would be flush with the vehicle’s body, but they would extend on the road to clean up the airflow ahead of the front wheel. The devices could also rotate for fine-tuning the aero adjustments.
The body also sees active extending side sills. These would help channel air inward towards a rear diffuser, if the particular vehicle actually has one.

jlr patent

These sills would also act help make ingress and egress a breeze. Then there is the D-pillar which could be partially hollow and feature vanes inside and these parts could be fixed or adjustable. The air would be channelled inward and change the shape of the rear of the vehicle, thus reducing the aerodynamic drag.

While these tricks might sound simple, they are indeed difficult to implement, but having patented these technologies, we might soon see them being used in production cars, which will make things even more interesting. Jaguar Land Rover is the largest investor in R&D in the UK manufacturing sector and has already invested $15.7 billion in the last five years and in the current year alone will spend over USD$4.5 billion on new product creation and capital expenditure. We are just happy to see the money put to good use.

[“Source-auto.ndtv”]

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

It’s time we educated children for the future, rather than limiting them to subjects of the past

virtual reality

In March, the House of Lords told us what has long been obvious: that we need to pay far more attention to the internet by coordinating our efforts towards improving children’s “digital literacy”.

A report, published by the Lords Communications Committee, states that students’ lives – “from health to education, from socialising to entertainment” – are now “mediated through technology”.

It also suggests that the best way to protect children online is through mandatory content control filters and privacy settings, and that a new children’s “digital tsar” should be appointed.

All of this is commendable and, like so many education initiatives, long overdue. But if we are going to teach children to use the internet properly we need to do more than controlling its ‘threats’.

Whether we like it or not, artificial intelligence, algorithms, advances in genetic engineering, nanotechnology and biology are already shaping our world at a pace we can scarcely comprehend. Rather than adding another ‘subject’, we should be looking at the whole purpose of education and asking whether our current systems are still fit for purpose.

For generations now we have viewed children as either tabula rasa, blank slates waiting to be filled with knowledge, or, as those who adhere to innatism maintain, minds brimming with knowledge from day one.

Both philosophies fed into the assembly line pedagogy, funneling talent into the narrow and restricted neck of an hourglass, to prepare them for world of work and leisure. What is increasingly evident, however, is that this approach is inadequate, even for those leaving school in the next decade.

Yes, by all means, let us give the internet a far more prominent place in our curriculum (although I doubt whether including it as part of the many-headed beast that is PSHE is the right place), and better still, embed it across the curriculum.

But let’s look further, much further, at what we are teaching, and its relevance over the next decade. We need to ask: should we even continue to teach the “3 R’s” in their conventional form.

In his recent TED talk “The Future of Learning”, education guru Sam Chaltain said that we “have to prepare our children for their future opposed to our past”. And that, clearly, is the challenge we face.

While we know change is coming (and the J curve for knowledge is likely to be with us by 2030), we do not appear to have a unified approach on how to prepare for it. Instead of being reactive, education has to become proactive, even predictive, looking beyond what we already know to a rapidly changing future.

As Yuval Noah Harari notes in his book ‘ Homo Deus’ , a report prepared in 2013 by Oxford researchers Frey and Osborne revealed that up to 47 per cent of current US jobs risk being replaced by computers and automation in the next 20 years – including doctors and pharmacists.

While we remain sceptical as to whether humans can really be replaced in such professions, we should take note of the pharmacy that opened in San Franciso in 2011. Providing two million prescriptions in its first year without a single mistake, this new high-tech pharmacy owes its success to the specialised algorithms and iPhones which now run the show.

Bletchley Park to house college for teenage codebreakers

01:27

As many occupations disappear altogether, in the same way that streaming has decimated video and music stores, new professions will undoubtedly surface, but it is likely they will require more flexibility and creativity than our current education system allows.

Artificial intelligence and algorithms are already playing a significant role in our day to day lives, so it will be no surprise when teachers also become surplus to requirements.

Meanwhile, we are so hung up on data that we are wasting huge amounts of human potential, squeezing the creativity out of young minds.  Looking forwards, the workforce of tomorrow will not be judged on their content knowledge, but rather a set of skills and dispositions which enables them to thrive in an economy that is changing, fast.

Recently I was visited by a friend who was New Zealand’s entrepreneur of the year in 2016. When I asked him about the quality of his new and prospective employees, he said his greatest concerns were their inability to problem-solve, their lack of imagination and the analytical skills to address causes rather than just managing the effects.

Sadly there is little in our education system that prepares children for employment now – let alone in 2040, when the world of work will be more complicated still.

So while we may welcome the paper from the House of Lords on internet safety, even accepting that it is reactive rather than pro-active, it is a small step on a very long journey. We know we cannot keep adding to an already full and essentially backward-looking curriculum.

If the students are to succeed in the future, we need to begin considering how we can best teach new competencies, new skills, new applications and new knowledge.

And that starts by acknowledging that today’s education system is still stuck in the past.

[“source-ndtv”]