Moneycontrol
Jan 08, 2018 04:57 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

NPCI may soon announce Visa's Uttam Nayak as its new CEO

AP Hota, the first managing director and CEO of NPCI, took over in August 2010 and retired from the position on August 10, 2017

Beena Parmar @BeenaParmar
 
 
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National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) may soon announce its new CEO after the position remaining vacant for about five months. Uttam Nayak from Visa is expected to take over the position and according to sources, his appointment will be announced within this month.

NPCI chief’s role has been one of the most influential and critical in the digital payment infrastructure in our country.

NPCI did not respond to any queries sent to the communications team and multiple calls and messages made by Moneycontrol to Nayak remained unanswered.

AP Hota, the first managing director and CEO of NPCI, took over in August 2010 and retired from the position on August 10, 2017. Meanwhile, Dilip Asbe, the chief operating officer, is currently the CEO in-charge till the new CEO takes over officially.

Since 1996, Nayak has been a part of Visa, one of the leading global payments technology firms. Prior to Visa, he worked at the US Department of Energy and was named the South Asia head in 2009.

Last year, Nayak moved to Dubai to oversee Visa’s technology initiatives as senior vice-president of digital for emerging markets, including the Asia-Pacific and Africa.

Being the South Asia head, Nayak took forth the company’s mobile money platform Mvisa in the region.

Filling Hota’s shoes

Given the growing digital payment space in India and the position where NPCI is currently, Nayak will have his hands full to take forward his predecessor Hota’s reign.

NPCI was set up in 2009 as an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India initiated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA). It is promoted by 10 major banks, including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank, with a total of 56 member banks as its shareholders.

Under Hota, NPCI has been instrumental in launching several payment instruments, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Bharat QR and Rupay cards, the Indian version of network providers like Visa/Mastercard.

NPCI had also introduced the next generation remittance service called Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) that facilitates 24x7 real-time money transfer, a platform which UPI runs on.

Hota also played a role in the implementation of Magnetic Ink Character Recognition technology used in cheque clearing, electronic funds transfer, automated clearing house and cheque truncation system in India.

Prior to NPCI, Hota headed the Department of Payment and Settlement Systems in Reserve Bank from March 2005 to July 2008, that introduced the NEFT or the National Electronic Funds Transfer, widely used today to make online transfer from one bank to the other.

Task ahead for Nayak

With UPI becoming a gamechanger in the mobile payments space, Nayak will wear the NPCI chief’s hat will be critical at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s digital India campaign along with Aadhaar (despite its controversy) as an enabler is set to write another page in the book of India’s digital payments.

Moreover, with big industry players such as Paytm, Google Tez and PhonePe also facilitating UPI-based transactions, the payment channel - both in value and volume – is witnessing consistent growth.

In December, the UPI transactions surged both in value and volume terms by 36 percent and 39 percent, to Rs 131.4 billion (Rs 13,140 crore) and 145.5 million (14.55 crore) transactions, respectively, showed the latest data as on January 2, by NPCI.

However, with NPCI planning to launch UPI 2.0 soon, it remains to be seen how Nayak will grow government-and-RBI-backed institution with a solid foundation but less wherewithal of cashbacks given by the ilk above passes the test of consumers.

Additionally, Nayak will also be bundled with core challenges such as connectivity, supply of point of sale (PoS) terminals and other related digital infrastructure along with acceptance and awareness and the most key ingredient of a consumer’s safety and security.
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