Naveen Surya in an exclusive talk to
Business , November 29, 2016

Digitization is the next step after demonetization. Technology firms and start-ups are coming together to offer the best e-wallet to customers for making online payments, across all categories. Cyber threats still exist, but the challenge still remains i.e. the customer education. Naveen Surya, chairman of the Payments Council of India and the managing director of ItzCash Ltd, in an exclusive talk to talked about the future challenges before the Modi government.

India Today: It’s a dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make India – a cashless country. And to support and encash this opportunity, all the tech companies have jumped into it. But still, what are the real challenges on the ground in the process of digitization?

Naveen: Challenge is the demand, which is quite high and how to cater this demand. Everyone is flooded with multiple queries and multiple opportunity areas. We are making sure that customers who are first time user should have good experience on the first day itself – either as a merchant or as a customer. The whole effort for first time customer is how we educate them in a way without confusing them and giving the right solutions which they really need.

One area we all knew in the industry which is slightly weaker area is acceptance. In last five days we have seen lot of work from both government side, policies side and industry side. In fact, yesterday itself, the import duty on PoS (Points of Sale) machine has been waived off.

So if you see the number of measures taken continuously at the super fast speed is very high. Today, everyone in the industry is aligned to see how they could use their complete muscle to add more and more new merchants. Ultimately, when you have machine in your hand, you digitize the money. These machines need to make available in the interior of the country, at every place where money works.

India Today: If entire country goes cashless, don’t you think, number of cyber crime cases could increase? Data also says, India is the weakest country on the cyber security front?

Naveen: I would not agree that cyber security infrastructure in India is weak. I will contradict to say that India follows one of the best international practice and best security standards across the globe. The reality is we were the first to introduce second factor authentication and many such multiple options, which actually, today US has adopted.

Challenge here is not the technology or infrastructure, challenge is about customer education. One thing we need to understand that sometime, generally, people believe that if you move from physical to digital, the digital front will solve all their problems. Reality is it solves your problem and also eases your pain, compared to physical transactions, but also need to be smart on Internet.

For example: If you have money in physical environment you get robbed. Your risk is quite higher. But, if you look at the digital end, you have all those risks and threats, I’m not saying it goes away, but the percentage, probability and experience compared to physical is quite minimal and less risky.

So one need to understand that we all are dealing with criminals, whether in physical or digital world. They will definitely try and cheat you, whenever and wherever possible. As an industry and as a government, I think they all are trying to educate the customer, because in most of the cases – customers lured into giving the information by hackers. I think it’s all about proliferation of the education and making sure best practices followed by everyone.

India Today: As Payment Council of India is working closely with RBI and Central Government, what else the country could witness on “cashless” front, in the coming days?

Naveen: The whole theme on which we are working is: demonetization to digitization. For digitization, the government has already done something to make cash transaction difficult. Now we have to take measures while dealing with digital and electronic instrument. It should look easier and quite accessible to everyone. Not just for people like us, but the real Bharat, who are 70 pc of the population. So the whole effort is how do we take those collective steps, reach to the masses and empower them with digital instrument and infrastructure for making payments.