DTU Times interviewed Amit Gupta, Vice President, MasterCard, who was in DTU as a judge for the Startup Weekend organised by E-Cell DTU.
How do you think electronic wallets and UPI have affected banking in the credit card industry?
You should think of it as a payment device or a payment mechanism. In the past, as you know, we’ve progressed from a lot of people using cash, then cards, and then wallets. Now the government is making things like UPI very, very open and thereby pushing the digital agenda. Still, what’s happening in the market is that 84% of all the transactions still take place through cash, in India. That’s a lot. If you look at the numbers of how much cash is withdrawn, 85% of all that is spent through card is on ATM in terms of withdrawing more cash. 500 billion dollars of cash is withdrawn in India and only 85-90 billion dollars is spent through card, on merchants directly. Now what’s happening is that with the invention of UPI as well as wallets, people are becoming more tech savvy and digital transactions are growing, enabling safer, faster, and secured transactions. So, if you look at UPI, it makes things seem easy. For example, what PayTM is doing is making things very convenient for the users. At the end, it is helping the consumers and obviously making the entire system digital, which is more efficient.
Before studying at IIM Lucknow, you were an Electronics engineer. What exactly moved you to go towards the field of business and how did your experience as an engineer assist you in this field?
Even when I did my engineering, my focus may not have been on electronics but more on the technology aspect. When I got the opportunity to work in Corporate, be it TCS and then later with American Express, I realized that there is a great need for every individual to have a holistic view on how a business works. Having technical abilities is certainly good but understanding business is also important, which means having the fundamentals of finance, marketing, strategy and operations. This is the key to understanding the broader aspect of how things are done and obviously it’ll help you understand and learn things in a better way. Also, the exposure you get post MBA- having good technical skills, good experience- is valuable. An MBA not only teaches you the fundamentals of business, but it also helps you understand the value of creating networks- the value of understanding and collaborating by working in teams. It helps you know how well you can do things by not only knowing the product or the technical aspect but also by understanding the economics behind it.
Right now you’re surrounded by engineers who are aspiring to be entrepreneurs, who don’t exactly have that much management exposure or exposure to the workings of a business. What could students these days do to increase their exposure in this field?
One thing is that they should read more, they should have a passion for innovation, and a passion for creating value. This value can be in the form of a product or a business, but they must have passion and a curiosity to understand the problems being faced. Once someone is curious, then only will the person be able to come up with a solution. So, to create a business solution, what’s important is the pressing need and post that, having a feasible solution for that pressing need. Once you’re able to do that, then there are other aspects- having the right economics and business model in place and the idea of how you can go to the market. I advise that students should learn the fundamentals of how things happen, should interact a lot with professors, peers, industry members. The college should also focus more on industry interaction- bringing in more industry people so that students will have more exposure. I think that’s the only thing lacking. For bright minds, very hardworking and self-driven people, the only thing required is exposure- such forums will certainly provide them with exposure. And then with time and experience people will learn how to prepare a robust and a well-balanced business plan.
Nowadays there’s a lot of talk about cryptocurrency and blockchain in the current economy. What do you think are the potential impacts of this technology?
Blockchain is great as a concept. What it does is create blocks which are attached to the last block so that you know the sequencing. There’s a third party which acts as a regulating party and everything is linked with a history, so it is easy to track. Cryptocurrency is a challenging thing because there is no regulator. When you’re given a note- a physical note- the RBI Governor says that I promise to pay you that amount. No one can say no to it because the RBI Governor will pay in the end. But since cryptocurrency has no regulator, you don’t know who will pay in case of a dispute. Therefore, the Government of India and a lot of other governments are against cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have a regulator, you can’t have something which can buy because at the end you need someone who can manage the disputes
Any tips or advice for the current engineering students in the college?
Be curious, have the passion in the right place. Do not just blindly follow what’s going on, understand the fundamentals, understand the value behind whatever is being done and since they’re bright minds, the world is waiting with open arms for them.