Uttam Nayak from Visa was in the fray to take over the position but lost out to the in-house expert Asbe.
In a wait of nearly five months post the retirement of AP Hota in August last year, NPCI — the umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India — now has a chief.
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on Monday announced that Dilip Asbe has been appointed as the Managing Director and CEO of the company with immediate effect. Uttam Nayak from Visa was in the fray to take over the position but lost out to the in-house expert Asbe.
Prior to his appointment as the NPCI chief, Asbe was the chief operating officer, and CEO in-charge, at NPCI. Asbe has been instrumental in assisting Hota in launching several payment instruments such as Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Bharat QR and Rupay cards, the Indian version of network providers like Visa/Mastercard.
NPCI chief’s role, hence, has been one of the most influential and critical in the digital payments infrastructure in our country.
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.
AP Hota, the first managing director and CEO of NPCI, took over in August 2010 and retired from the position on August 10, 2017.Asbe's Achievements
Asbe has been involved in setting up payments infrastructure like National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC), RuPay international debit and credit card, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) platforms using Aadhaar Payments Bridge (APB). He has been instrumental in designing Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) and defining MicroATM standards for interoperable Financial Inclusion along with the team at UIDAI.
According to NPCI's website, Asbe has played a leadership role in setting up and management of National Automated Clearing House (NACH) with new functionalities like E-Mandate, Cheque Truncation System (CTS), National Financial Switch (NFS) as well as Cashnet, the first ATM shared network and real time mobile top up systems in India for Euronet.
An engineer from Mumbai, Asbe holds a Master of Science (MSc) Degree In Global Management (Executive Programme) from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with Merit at London, United Kingdom.
Big boots to fill?
Given the growing digital payment space in India and the position where NPCI is currently, Asbe will continue to have his hands full as he takes forward his predecessor Hota’s reign.
Under Hota, 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 at hand
With UPI becoming a gamechanger in the mobile payments space, Asbe 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 Asbe 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, Asbe 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.