“The world will change,” began Aditya Puri, the current Managing Director of HDFC Bank, after accepting the prestigious Ramkrishna Bajaj Award for Good Governance.
As the pioneer of HDFC’s digital banking services, Mr. Puri was of course talking about Digital India and how technology has changed the way our nation’s markets currently function. Before the inception of smartphone apps and online banking, we had what he calls ‘physical networks’ – roads and streets that worked as the “life and blood of e-commerce.” Then, we developed ‘invisible networks’, which comprised of telecommunication lines, from satellite to radio.
But now, we exist in the age of ‘info-networks’, a period of time where “everybody is connected with everybody” through the advent of the internet and smart technology. But how does this change the way businesses operate?
“Power shifts from the producer to the consumer,” explained Mr. Puri. “Businesses have to deliver what the customer wants, how, when, and where he wants it,” which leads firms to restructuring, reorganising, and redeveloping their business models and strategies. Therefore, markets are “now formed with the customer at the centre,” catering to their needs and wants in ways never before seen within the non-digital world.
After all, “why would you want to go to a bank when you can do… everything sitting at home?” Asked Mr. Puri, pointing out that the “point of technology… is to take the hassle out” of tedious, everyday tasks that would otherwise require consumers to waste time and money travelling to, and waiting in, a place of business for hours on end.
“With the click of a button… a loan that used to take ages, can be issued in 10 seconds,” continued the welldecorated banker, allowing the audience to delve into his ‘Digital India’ and observe the benefits of a world constantly adapting to modern technology.
However, this raised a few concerns, as an audience member asked about the negative impacts of digitising the availability of loans; “Have we forced ourselves into this mess through these advancements?” She questioned. But Mr. Puri was quick to put our worried rotarians at ease, responding with the strict procedure that online loan allotments follow. “We scrub the client’s name with civil, analyse their financials against our model, and create a portfolio” with their required details and fiscal probabilities. “Don’t forget – a banker only hands you an umbrella when you don’t need it,” he remarked humorously, proving that this statement stands the testament of not only time, but digital prowess as well.
Another hot topic during the talk was that of demonetisation. Though Mr. Puri had touched upon it lightly, questions about its effects still remained. “Was it really necessary?” He was asked.
The question was one that echoed the sentiments of others, as haunting flashbacks of long ATM lines and worried bank managers appeared in the minds of the rotarians present. Bringing them back to the present, Mr. Puri replied, “The initial concept was good, but the execution was poor… Nonetheless, it’s come out alright.” As the room nodded in silent agreement, they recognised, as the saying goes, the need to crack a few eggs in order to make an omelette.
Ultimately, our nation is on its way to cooking up some extraordinary and game-changing things. Through offering world-class digital services and generating experienced and forward-looking leaders such as Mr. Puri, “India is a bright spot in the world economy, and we will see a change geopolitically and geoeconomically.”
“Fundamentally, we are growing,” stated Mr. Puri. And soon, our tree of success will bear the fruits of 21st century innovation and calculated strategy.