Global Fintech Fest 2023 — Seen And Heard On Day 2: Bigger, Yes. Better? Too Early To Say
The RBI governor's session had so many people that the hall ran out of chairs.
The second day of the Global Fintech Fest in Mumbai was filled with people. So. Many. People.
The first day, according to some estimates, saw about 30,000 people in attendance. The second may well have broken that record. Organisers are said to be thinking that Jio World Convention Centre may not be enough next year, a founder told this reporter. Though where they would find a larger space is still a question.
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das’ session had so many people that the hall ran out of chairs, with many attendees being on their feet for more than 40 minutes. Das even remarked that last year though the place was full, people were sitting. “But today, I see so many of you standing, I feel bad about it. But that is the level of enthusiasm, that is the level of participation.”
Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the co-founders of Infosys Ltd. and chairman of startup accelerator Axilor Ventures, said on stage that he wished he had received early notice of the number of people attending the session (Gopalakrishnan is one of the key organisers of the event). Entry to the fest is largely through pre-registration, so it is not immediately clear what he meant.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das (fourth from right), Infosys Co-founder Nandan Nilekani (fifth from right) and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma (extreme left) along with other participants at the Global Fintech Fest in Mumbai. (Photo: Vijay Sartape/BQ Prime)
A metric cited by the central bank chief caught this reporter's attention. According to a May report by BCG, the global fintech ecosystem is estimated to generate an annual revenue of $1.5 trillion by 2030, while Indian fintechs will record $200 billion in top line, or 13% of the global number. Another consultancy firm McKinsey & Co., in a recent report, estimated Indian fintechs to generate $65-75 billion in revenue by March 2030 from $5-7 billion as of FY22. That’s a wide gap in estimates.
One thing you can always trust estimates to do is to never be even close, said a fintech professional in jest.
Yes, the fintech fest is growing. But is it all for the better? The core theme is to build a “responsible” ecosystem, which is resilient, inclusive and sustainable. While conversations have ranged over issues of resilience and inclusion, sustainability remains elusive. This is not just limited to the business models, but also whether the fintech ecosystem cares enough for its customer’s sustainability.
Financial services businesses have vanished in India whenever the customer is not at the centre. And if the fintech ecosystem feels that it is heralding the next leg of financial services growth, then it needs to spend more time on figuring out whether all its innovation is helping the customer at all times.