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Access to financial products is every citizen's fundamental right: Uttam Nayak

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Access to financial products is every citizen's fundamental right: Uttam Nayak

“The real India is waking up to the payments business today,” said Uttam Nayak, the Group Country Manager, Visa, South Asia, while talking about how bullish the brand and its partners are about Tier II & III cities.

Nayak leads Visa’s operations in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. During his 16 years at Visa, he has successfully launched various innovative products designed to meet the needs of consumers in the debit, credit, prepaid and commercial cards space.

He is also responsible for successfully developing platforms such as Visa Money Transfer, Visa Bill Pay and establishing Visa’s online and mobile products in the region. Over the years, Nayak has held several key positions at Visa and has expanded the business into key geographies in South Asia. Prior to this, he worked with the US Department of Energy and US-based PhoneTel.

In an exclusive chat, Nayak talks about the aggressive growth coming from Tier II and III cities, the brand’s areas of focus, overcoming the hesitancy to internet usage for transactions in India and more…


Brand Visa has become more aggressive in its communication, having launched two campaigns in less than a year. What are the other initiatives undertaken to reach out to consumers more effectively?
In the past one year, we have ensured that the four pillars of our financial inclusion strategy are in place.

We launched the Freedom Card – which was rolled out in Dharavi, we had the UID Aadhar EKYC authentication done, and we also launched our mobile wallet. We have an added focus on financial literacy.

The e-commerce bandwagon is seeing unprecedented growth. Our second campaign shows education being given to girls with sewing machines; it drives home the point that there is affordability in the country, but people don’t have access. When they access, they have an aspiration to grow.

Our focus has also been on getting people to move away from cash.

Lastly, consumers have been demanding more features on their premium cards like access to airport lounge, so that is another area of focus for Visa.

So you are reaching out to both, the masses and classes?
We are a payments company; we can help manage your payments if you are the richest man in South Mumbai or a poor landless labourer in Dharavi or Bihar with intermittent income.  We want to meet each one of their payment needs and provide equal access to all of them to have efficient use of their bank account. We believe that access to financial products is the fundamental right of every citizen.

In India, how do you overcome the barrier of hesitancy to internet usage for transactions?
In all emerging markets, like India, there is apprehension in using electronic products because of the initial barrier of trial. We spend a lot of money to incentivise consumers by using cash back and reward programmes. Once they get over this barrier, we ensure repeat transaction, typically a mobile top-up. The transaction frequency increases post this.

According to you, how much have transactions on the internet grown in the past one year?
I think it has grown 100 per cent year-on-year, which is great for e-commerce. We are seeing new geographies, new segments and first-time users. More women shoppers are transacting online than the physical world. Women are feeling comfortable shopping for groceries, paying bills, etc., which is clearly a positive trend.

Besides travel, which are the other sectors showing growth?
Mobile top-up is a big segment, all kinds of bill payments, movie ticketing, and apparel shopping.

Which segments are being affected by the slowdown?
Consumers are much more cautious while buying luxury goods, big ticket items, and are slowing down on taking holidays. 

What kind of growth are you are seeing in Tier II and III markets?
We are definitely seeing more growth in Tier II and III cities; people have affordability and hence, hunger for access. Our bank partners are also bullish on these markets. Over 20 co-operative banks have approached us wanting to issue Visa cards. The real India (read smaller cities) is waking up to the payments business today. 

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