Issue 07

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K Srinivas

MD & CEO, BTI Payments Pvt Limited

K Srinivas is a Mechanical Engineering graduate and a PGDM from IIM Bangalore.

Srini joined BTI Payments, a Bangalore based start-up JV between Banktech Group of Australia and ICICI Ventures, in Dec 2014 as its MD & CEO. In a short span of one and a half years, BTI Payments has emerged as the second largest White Label ATM operator in the country.

Prior to joining BTI Payments, Srini was the President of Consumer Business at Bharti Airtel Limited, where he worked for over 11 years. As the President of Consumer Business, Srini was responsible for driving Airtel’s Mobile, Fixed line & Broadband, DTH and Airtel Money Businesses in India and South Asia. During this period he led Airtel’s transformation from being a voice centric business to a data enabled business through the launch of 3G/4G data networks. Some of the other key initiatives Srini spearheaded at Airtel were: the launch of Airtel Money, the launch of Airtel Srilanka, Airtel’s first Greenfield overseas venture, the launch of all the Greenfield circles in Eastern India etc. He was a member of the Airtel Management Board since 2009.

Of his over 27 years of rich working experience, Srini spent his early years in Britannia Industries Limited, and Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL). During these years, he worked in various sales, marketing and business development roles across different profit centers and geographies. His last assignment in Hindustan Unilever was that of a Business Manager-New Ventures, where he was responsible for conceiving and developing a new rural business model “Project Shakti”, using micro credit and micro financing thro’ banks.

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1. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?

When I took on the role as the MD&CEO of BTI Payments, we just had an in-principle approval from RBI to launch White Label ATMs.

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2. How much of that has been achieved? What were the challenges faced?

A lot and more of what has been planned has been achieved. According to our license conditions, we were obligated to roll out 1000 ATMs in the first year post the approval. This obligation was met two months ahead of schedule.

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3. How do you respond to the needs of changing market scenario (with an example)?

Strategies that one adopts have to be enduring and differentiating while being in sync with the changing market scenarios. In the ATM industry, interchange paid by a transaction acquirer is regulated. In the middle of 2014, the interchange was reduced by 20% necessitating us to recast our business model.

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4. How has the market evolved in the last few years?

The ATM industry grew rapidly during the period 2008-12, when banks started to rely on outsourcing to enable speedier expansion. This spawned the birth of a large number of companies which specialized in providing ATM services.

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5. What are the key challenges your organization is facing currently? And what are the steps you are taking?

One and a half years and 1700 ‘India 1 ATMs’ later, we are still in a start-up mode. We are currently rolling out over 250 ATMs per month in the hinterland of the country. Managing any service in rural areas is a challenge with poor connectivity and infrastructure.

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6. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs lateral hiring at the leadership level?

We are in the business of providing various financial and payment services to our customers. Customer trust and delight is central to our philosophy. To achieve this and to drive this tenet across the organization.

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7. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

At BTI, we believe that deep rooted process orientation and people empowerment is key to delivering customer delight on a consistent basis.

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8. What are the 3 key aspects you look at when you hire your direct reports?

“Self-drive, right balance between professional and entrepreneurial capability (no, the two are not opposites), thinking big while being hands on” are the three aspects that I look at when hiring my direct reports.

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9. How does the growth prospect of your organization look like for the next 12-24 months?

Payments domain is hugely under penetrated in the country. With the Government and the policy makers being very serious about driving financial inclusion, we see that the next 12-24 months are going to be very exciting. In a way, this domain today is where telecom was in 2005!

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10. Will there be any significant change in the market dynamics in next few years? If so, what steps are you taking for the same?

We see virtual infrastructure coming up in a big way. ATMs will bridge the reach gap of the ‘brick and mortar’ financial institutions We also see mobility (virtual bank accounts) playing a massive role in driving financial inclusion.

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11. What are the 3 most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from and/or that got you where you are today?

Conceptualizing, testing, implementing and scaling up “Project Shakti” at Hindustan Unilever was one of the pivotal moments in my career. This was my first go at building a business from scratch.

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12. How do you define & practice leadership?

To me a leader is the one who imagines a larger picture and coaches his/her people to actually paint the same. A true leader has to continuously keep doing this day in and day out

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13. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?

Experiencing diversity early on always helps. Hands on experience in diverse geographies, diverse functions, diverse domains, diverse cultures, diverse complexities etc. helps one to manage these diversities much better later on in one’s career.

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