Just before Christmas i wrote about the Crazy Cash Crisis in India, this was in preparation for a holiday to the country over the Christmas/New Year period. It was an amazing trip and, for a payments enthusiast (!!), the timing was spot on. I was staying in a rural area about 30 miles away from the city of Amritsar, in the state of the Punjab. Just to give you some context, Amritsar is about 5 hours (flight) north of Bangalore and an hour north of Delhi. The region, indeed the country, is going through a significant period of change – technology, infrastructure, culture, transport links, the political, economic and social structures are all being overhauled. As an observer it was fascinating, interestingly several transformational themes that many corporates and banks are encountering sprung to mind:
1. Transformation means completely Ripping out the Old, and building New
In India everywhere you look, you see construction – it reminded me of my post about the problem with legacy:
- New roads improving transportation within the Punjab, and linking the Punjab with the rest of India
- Impressive modern shopping malls have been, and continue to be, built around Amritsar
- Mobile providers are racing ahead to rolling out 4G services
- It ain’t going smoothly, but India is pushing to become a cashless society – the cash crisis is what most of my below observations are based on
2. Transformation requires Honesty & takes Time
India’s demonetisation disaster is well documented and many people, particularly in the rural areas, have struggled with the policy. But guess what, despite the chaos that has ensued the people that i talked to (in rural areas) actually recognise the long term economic and societal benefits of demonetisation. Understandably, they totally disagree with the unexpected way in which the policy has been deployed.
I was totally surprised by this viewpoint, and wondered how different demonetisation could have been had it been effectively planned, communicated and implemented. India is totally ready for technology – city and rural folks are very tech savy, check out this chap on his mobile riding through the bustling city of Amritsar
3. Transformation Exposes the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
While transformation is happening you need to step back, and take a look at what it is you’re doing. You need to understand every aspect of your environment, some of what you find will not be pretty – but i suppose that is why you’re embarking on a transformation journey. The belief and vision of a better future is what drives the transformation.
4. Transformation Ain’t Easy & in the short term, wreaks Havoc
The demonetisation debacle has caused all kinds of immediate problems – from the long queues to deposit old currency notes to arguments and even deaths within those queues. Daily economic activity has also been impacted. Small example – demonetisation has removed some 86% of the cash in the circulation in India. So when i tried to buy something for 100 Rupees using a 2000 Rupee note – some vendors simply didn’t have enough cash change to return to me. In some instances, vendors are having to turn away business.
In Amritsar, the road building projects are clearly going to improve things in the long term. Some road improvement initiatives, for example the GT Road have clearly improved over the last couple of years. But other road improvement programs in the city are a nightmare. Dust and pollution are a huge problem, add to that traffic jams that bring parts of the city to a complete standstill and you have nothing short of headache.
5. Effective solutions emerge, and Prosper, during a Transformation
Paytm – a mobile wallet and payments provider – is simply everywhere! The growth of Paytm is just amazing – check out Paytm: 2016 in numbers. It is a 2 minute read, during which they claim that “over 10,000 Indians transacted on Paytm and an additional 500 merchants have joined our network”. The numbers are Incredible.
Do you agree with my assessment of transformation above ? I would love to hear your comments below…