True success in technology and digital payment & e-commerce comes not just from innovation, but from doing it at scale, as scaling up is crucial to solving significant problems and making a substantial impact, said Vishal Mehta, Chairman & Managing Director of Infibeam Avenues. He was sharing his views as a panelist at “TechGuard Maestros – Fortifying the Future” a panel discussion at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024. The session highlighted the dynamic nature of e-commerce and underscored the critical need for cybersecurity and the potential of technology to drive social change.
Mehta discusses importance of conviction and scale
Drawing from his extensive experience in the e-commerce sector, Mehta discussed the importance of conviction and scale. He shared his journey, including his time working for industry giants Dell and Amazon. “I joined Amazon in 2002, a time when the aftermath of 9/11 had severely impacted the markets. Despite the drastic drop in Amazon's market cap, with shares plummeting from $105 to $6, I believed in the resilience and future of e-commerce and the company,” he said. For Mehta, this period at Amazon wasn't just a job, but a significant learning curve, rich with opportunities to grow in an environment where conviction was key, especially for startups.
Based on its learning, today, Infibeam Avenues Ltd, has transformed and grown into one of the major AI-based fintech company, enabling millions of merchants, ecommerce players and government organisations, through its payments and platform technologies.
He also shared a vital lesson learned from Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, highlighting the significance of focusing on “what will not change” in consumer preferences, rather than constantly seeking new spaces. The vision is to consider “what will remain unchanged” in the long run. Considering digital payments as an example, people will always prefer faster transactions, making digital payments a constant in the evolving landscape of commerce. This philosophy of prioritizing enduring customer desires, such as the universal demand for speed and efficiency, over fleeting market trends, was a powerful guide for in navigating the volatile e-commerce landscape, he added.
"Success in technology and e-commerce is not just about innovation"
Furthermore, Mehta stressed that success in technology and e-commerce is not just about innovation, but also about scalability, as operating at scale is crucial for addressing major challenges and making a lasting impact.
The panel, moderated by Pankaj Mall, Founder and Director of Astitva Welfare Foundation, also featured Prof. Triveni Singh, (ex-IPS) Superintendent of Police (Cyber Crime), Government of Uttar Pradesh, and Mr. Samar Singla, CEO of Jungle Works, offering a well-rounded perspective on the digital commerce ecosystem.
Mr Vishal Mehta, CMD, Infibeam Avenues Ltd |
Ex-IPS officer Triveni Singh, highlighted the sophistication of cybercriminals and their ability to manipulate technology, including deep fake technology and fingerprint cloning. “Tools and technologies in the hands of fraudsters are much more advanced than before,” he said. He emphasized the need for constant vigilance in a hyper-connected world where cybercriminals can operate from one part of the globe while targeting victims in another. The complexity of these crimes, spanning across global borders, presents a significant challenge to law enforcement and necessitates heightened vigilance from both individuals and corporations, Singh stated.
The evolving nature of Indian e-commerce market
Samar Singla touched upon the evolving nature of the Indian e-commerce market. Indian consumers are discerning and demanding, which propels technological advancements to be more user-centric, affordable, and innovative. Technology in India must be designed to work 'out-of-the-box' and cater to a diverse consumer base and business entities. He stressed the need for technological education and support for smaller entities. Empowering them with the right tools and knowledge is crucial for the overall development of the Indian e-commerce ecosystem, he said.
Responding to a question by moderator Pankaj Mall regarding the role of e-commerce in mitigating poverty and empowering women and farmers, Mehta emphasized the importance of accessible and affordable credit. He delved into the evolution of credit accessibility in India, particularly in the context of e-commerce. He reminisced about his early experiences in the United States, where, despite being a student with no credit history, he was readily granted a $5000 credit card. This contrasted sharply with the situation in India at the time, which he described as “predominantly a debit society.”
Mehta pointed out that the landscape in India has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. He attributed this change to the advent of digital payments and AI-led technology, which have revolutionized the way credit scores and risk assessments are calculated. This technological progression has made credit more accessible and affordable, dramatically altering consumer behaviour.
Improved access to credit, a crucial driver for economic growth
Emphasizing the broader implications of this shift, Mehta highlighted that improved access to credit is a crucial driver for economic growth and social uplift. It enables individuals and businesses, especially those with the requisite skill sets, aspirations, and market opportunities, to fulfill their credit requirements more effortlessly. Mehta underscored the importance of financial inclusivity in this context, noting that the ease of obtaining credit, facilitated by digital advancements and the India Stack framework, is a significant step towards empowering a wider segment of the population. This, in his view, is not just a commercial advancement but a stride towards societal betterment.
In conclusion, Mehta reiterated the importance of leveraging technology not just as a business tool, but as a means for inclusive growth and societal betterment. "Technology, when used with a purpose, can be a powerful force for good, bridging gaps and creating opportunities for all," Mehta reflected.
Growing e-commerce landscape
During an earlier session, Rajesh Kumar Singh, Secretary of the Department of Promotion, Industry, and Internal Trade (DPIIT), addressed several key aspects of India's economic landscape and government vision. India’s impressive growth above 7% is a culmination of various factors working in synergy: unwavering political leadership at the national level, substantial investments directed towards enhancing public infrastructure, and the continuous development of a robust digital infrastructure. These elements collectively form the sturdy foundation upon which India's journey towards becoming a developed nation is built, he opined.
The emergence of Digital India has been closely linked to the expansion of the e-commerce industry. As the fourth-largest retail market globally, India's e-commerce sector was valued at $55 billion in 2021. It is forecasted to soar to $325 billion by 2030. Remarkably, just over a decade ago (in 2010), the industry was only worth $5.3 billion. In 2022, the sector witnessed an impressive annual growth rate of nearly 69%. Furthermore, the number of online shoppers is anticipated to hit 500 million by 2030, expanding at CAGR of 15%, he said.