Spearheading Digital Transformation

Amitabh Chaudhry, managing director and CEO of Axis Bank, believes that India will gradually move towards being a cashless society

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Amitabh Chaudhry, managing director and CEO of Axis Bank, believes that the pandemic has been an inflection point that has brought a radical change in not only the banking industry but the society as a whole.

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“COVID-19 has brought in many changes, some of which will be permanent. For instance, I believe India will gradually move towards being a cashless society. The seeds for the transformation were sown earlier and the groundwork that was done in the past was instrumental in propelling India towards becoming more and more digitally reliant,” he said at the Tech & Innovation Summit 2021, hosted by Entrepreneur India

He also added that the last decade has shown a decrease in the use of cash in India and is likely to continue in the coming years.

His radical thoughts and stern belief in the need for a cashless society are also reflected in the various programs he has spearheaded at Axis bank. Under his leadership, the bank is undergoing a multi-year transformation program, which he believes will catapult the bank to a premier financial institution of the country. 

“We have been constantly working on improving our mobile apps user experience, strengthening our UPI infrastructure, improving uptime, providing reliable services to our customers and we can see the results. Today, our mobile app is rated as one of the best apps in the country,” he added.  

His role as CEO comes with many years of prior experience in leadership roles. Before joining Axis Bank, Chaudhry had a long and successful stint of nine years at HDFC Life, prior to which he was the managing director and CEO of Infosys BPO and head of the testing unit of Infosys Technologies Ltd. He is also currently the chair of the FICCI Committee on Banking. 

Chaudhry is an optimist who believes that with efforts from every financial institution, including his, the hesitancy towards digital payments will come down drastically and more and more people will start using them. “We are inching towards our dream of digital India. Today, credit cards and online payment services are becoming popular. In the last year, from June 2020 to June 2021, UPI-based digital transactions have increased by 110 per cent in volume and 109 per cent in value. During COVID-19, India was home to the highest number of real-time online transactions in 2020, ahead of countries like China and the US. This was possible because of the infrastructure that has been created over the last 8-10 years,” he said at the summit. 

Being an optimist, however, doesn’t stop him from looking at challenges that are present in front of us. For instance, he is of the opinion that more needs to be done as the digital divide is still huge in India. “Around 80 per cent of working Indians continue to be employed by informal MSMEs and this sector produces close to 50 per cent of our GDP. And, most of these Indians are paid in cash. Further, more than 40 crore people in India still don’t have access to the internet. Even today, more than 80 per cent of retail transactions are still made in cash,” he said. 

The irony, that on one hand, we have seen massive growth in digital transactions, on the other, its market share in the overall scheme of things is still quite low, astonishes him and pushes him to do more. “Speed at which we are bridging this gap, is also not good enough. We need to do more work,” he said. 

He believes that besides making affordable smartphones and improving internet connectivity in rural areas, handholding and training people on digital payments to remove the skepticism over it is pertinent. “The need of the hour is to train and handhold people to use the platforms that are available. At Axis, we do multiple customer campaigns explaining how the website and UPI works, also how frauds are being done and how we can stay safe,” he said. 

Chaudhry’s vision for the future is of a digital economy that is less reliant on cash.

S Shanthi

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Entrepreneur Staff

Shanthi specialises in writing sector-specific trends,  interviews and startup profiles. She has worked as a feature writer for over a decade in several print and digital media companies. She is also a mom who looks forward to playing a game of cards with her tween daughter every evening after work.