At a time when more global players are showing keen interest in the Indian digital payments space, including the likes of Google, Truecaller and PayPal Nasdaq listed Ebix has been extremely bullish about the digitisation of the Indian ecosystem. Having acquired ItzCash last year, the company has been acquiring multiple small entities to monopolise the international remittance business. In conversation with ET's Pratik Bhakta, Ebix chief executive Robin Raina talks about his India plans and also how he looks at the digitisation of the Indian economy which the government has been promoting in a major way. Edited excerpts:
Unless people get used to paying taxes they would continue to remain averse to the idea of digitisation of payments because that would mean tracking of their money. What India has seen as of now is play in the e-wallets industry. These cannot revolutionise the market in any way. If people can pay directly from their bank accounts, why do they need an e-wallet? Over the world e-wallets have found out that they only succeed if they provide you with some large value addition. Out of the two or three who have succeeded in India, the only positive that they are doing is that they are providing money back (to the consumers). This I believe is an unsustainable strategy. Now making payments is not a problem in India anymore there is UPI, debit cards etc. There is a need to digitise the entire process of payments: B2B as well as B2C.
We at Ebix Cash would like to create true convergence, converging finance, insurance, healthcare and in turn converge all kinds of processes be it travel, buying gift cards or others.
India is emerging as a major global player hence a lot of money is coming into the country as well. When you become a player in remittance you also enter many other segments. In India the largest player in this field is Western Union and we have three fourth of Western Union business in India. Through this we can get into travel, insurance, healthcare or even benefit administration all these fields connect with each other through this.
In money movement we cannot do anything without the support of the regulator. We have always tried to be ahead of our times as well. But I do not believe that blockchain technology has arrived as of yet. For international money movement the biggest challenge is anti money laundering (AML) and we have to abide by strict AML laws of both the country where the payment is originating from as well as to where it goes. Hence being part of a regulated business I cannot just say that I would adopt block chain as I would run foul of the regulator.
We are a big proponent of e-learning and the second is benefit administration. The only we can improve the education standards in a large country like India is by adopting e-learning modules and creating standard digital learning programmes. The government has also backed it strongly and is trying to fund various initiatives. The rate of growth for the Indian e-learning programme it is pretty phenomenal.
Second for us is benefit administration, health and wellness and others. In India healthcare services are pretty weak, so we believe there is a scope in India for a player to improve healthcare services in many aspects. One is through better education for doctors, education of consumers in terms of better access to healthcare, better access to insurance protection etc. Since we are a B2B insurance player it is a natural space for us to get into. These are few of the areas which we find interesti ..
Though we are in the financial exchange business, education is a key part of the puzzle because educated people will adopt digital payments faster, they will be able to access better health insurance products so all these sectors are related and I believe education is a key part of this puzzle. We would like our distributor network to be able to sell e-learning courses. Our distribution network should be able to collect fees from parents for education. We imagine a world where one could just walk into a shop around 50 metres away from his home and buy an e-learning course where they will not only buy an e-learning module, but also monitor what he is studying.
Yes we are ready to top up our purse for the Indian market, for me the $200 million was a notional number. You could possible see us making a $100million acquisition. We are not limited by the $200 million number. We will need to top that up. 2018 is going to be a big year for us, we have lots of different opportunities.