September 19, 2016
It was my 24th consecutive day in India, the longest I had stayed in the country since I left for the US for the first time in 1994. I had visited after almost exactly one year. And even after such a long stay in Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune, it did not feel nearly enough. Until the very end, en route to Mumbai airport to catch my 16-hour return flight, I was soaking in the energy of the Indian FinTech ecosystem – I was speaking with someone whom I had just been introduced to literally until Airtel’s signal could no longer reach my phone in the plane that had just taken off.
This may not be obvious to either those who live in this country of chaos, nor to those who are oblivious to the expanding universe that is Indian FinTech, yet the reality of this entropic opportunity hits you in the face after you stare at it for a bit, but from a distance.
One such experience was when I was trying to get a new mobile account at an Airtel store. Aadhar Card + fingerprint scanner connected to a tablet + thumb impression on the scanner twice = new prepaid account! Instant. No paper. New SIM in hand. This was e-KYC at work. Nowhere else in the world will you experience this at such a scale. Aadhar supports 100 million real-time authentications per day. Nothing else comes close. Now imagine this account opening experience across all mobile operators, all banks, all utilities, all lenders – You get the idea! For those who might be unfamiliar with Aadhar, it is the national biometric ID issued by UIDAI ...