Author Archives: Lakshmipathy Bhat

Lakshmipathy Bhat
Lakshmipathy Bhat is our Senior VP - Global Marketing and Communications. He is an ex-advertising professional with vast experience in advertising agencies in South Asia. Grounded in traditional advertising and its role in brand building, he brings in his perspectives on how digital experiences can shape our lives. He also tried his hand at entrepreneurship in app development domain and brings in a holistic perspective to content development and marketing. His personal blog ranks among the top advertising blogs in the world.

CBDC: eRupee of India, by India, for India

Since 1990, India has taken progressive steps towards innovation in digital payments. Starting with Electronic Clearing Service (ECS) in 1990 to the implementation of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in 2016, the Indian payment system has made steady progress in modernising the payment infrastructure and institutionalising a robust payments ecosystem.

Taking yet another step forward, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) pilot with select banks on December 1, 2022. Even though the UPI and COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital payments, in the Indian context, cash is still king. Therefore, the moment was opportune for the RBI to step-in and bring in necessary digital interventions to reduce this serious dependency on cash. And when the CBDC pilot was launched on 1st December, it was received positively by the industry.

Managing and monitoring cash is not just a regulatory burden but is an expensive affair for businesses as well. And within this context, the CBDC pilot can be viewed as watershed moment that will have far reaching consequences for the Indian economy.

What is CBDC?

The RBI defines the CBDC as a legal tender issued by a central bank in a digital form. It is the same as a sovereign currency and is exchangeable at par with the fiat currency. It will be accepted as a legal tender, and a safe store of value by all citizens, enterprises, and government agencies.

BFSI Robosoft Technologies

It is a fungible legal tender for which holders need not have bank accounts. And as exchange of cash between parties happen outside the banking system, payments made using CBDC (or e-rupee) will not go via the traditional interbank payment settlement processes and will never appear in customer’s bank statements. In effect, the e-rupee will function exactly like cash in our pockets or wallets and will be available in the same denominations.

What are the key benefits of CBDC?

As per the RBI’s Concept Note on Central Bank Digital Currency, the key motivations for exploring the issuance of CBDC in India were to reduce operational costs associated with physical cash management, fostering financial inclusion, bringing resilience, efficiency and innovation in payment systems, boosting innovations in cross-border payments and providing the public with uses that any virtual currency can provide, without the associated risks. Therefore, unlike cryptocurrencies, CBDCs will provide the benefits of virtual currencies while ensuring consumer protection.

Benefits for the public:

  1. The biggest benefit for the general public is that they would not be required to carry and manage cash. Hence, there is no risk of losing cash. In the e-rupee system, even if someone loses the phone, the wallet can be re-installed, and the money can be recovered.
  2. People can transact freely without having to worry about managing and replacing torn notes.
  3. In due course, it will enable underbanked and unbanked people to directly receive government grants and cash benefits.
  4. With e-rupee wallet, people will have access to better financial services, especially in the remote areas.
  5. Safeguards people from losing money due to the circulation of counterfeit currencies.
  6. Instant settlement of transactions via wallet-to-wallet transfers. In due course, people will be able to transact in offline mode as well.

Benefits for the society:

Today India spends close to Rs. 5000 crore per year (approx. $6 billion) in printing physical cash. Not to forget the countless trees that are felled and the consumption of enormous quantities of ink in printing currency notes. For one, the transition to e-rupee will be a significant gain to the exchequer and the environment. Moreover:

  • Retail outlets, stores and banks will reduce substantial overheads to manage high volumes of cash.
  • It will allow the government to address the growing concerns around the circulation of counterfeit notes. With e-rupee, every rupee will be verifiable.

Despite various steps taken in strengthening financial inclusion, a lot still needs to be done. Challenges like limited physical infrastructure in remote areas, poor connectivity, lack of integration of credit with livelihood activities or access to other financial services may be overcome by providing the public with a safe sovereign digital money for meeting various transactional needs. It may be hoped that e-rupee shall make financial services more accessible to the unbanked and underbanked population.

Unlike UPI or any other form of electronic payment, e-rupee transactions will not be settled via the current settlement process and therefore, will reduce the stress on the current inter-bank settlement processes.

In the current context, physical exchange of cash leaves no trail. Therefore, it is almost impossible to track & trace how the cash changed hands. However, if it is required, the e-rupee will assist the government in tracing all transactions done via e-rupee.

As is the case with most digital interventions, the moment these interventions go public, diverse and wide-ranging use cases emerge. The industry always finds unique and innovative ways to exploit opportunities in a manner that serves the interests of their organisations and their end-customers. As the pilot goes on and as the product matures, we are certain we’ll see far more uses for the e-rupee than we see today. With a sense of cautious optimism, we hope that the e-rupee truly transforms the way India transacts across cities, towns and villages.

Read More
Digital Transformation

From the Ford Model T to IoT: the automobile revolution

When motorized vehicles were first seen in the early 1800s, these ‘horseless carriages’ were perceived with ‘magic and wonder’. They brought with them a paradigm shift in the way people moved and lived.

In 1902, Henry Ford built his own ‘horseless carriage’, but had already failed twice at manufacturing commercial automobiles. It was his partnership with Alexander Y. Malcomson, Detroit’s largest coal dealer, that helped him succeed with his third attempt – . Ford’s Model T.

He revolutionized mass production of these ‘magical vehicles’ that were affordable and targeted at the masses. Using assembly lines, around 10,000 cars were being produced each day; this was a milestone moment in automation for the entire manufacturing sector, changing the very nature of production. Over the years, several car manufacturers entered the fray and automation in the manufacturing sector increased several fold, sparking a revolution in the manufacturing industry.

The next milestone in automobile evolution is here – digitalization is sparking a new revolution for the sector, redefining personal transportation yet again. New horizons are emerging around digitalization, especially through ‘Industry 4.0’ and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Digitalization is re-defining mobility and the car ownership experience

Digitalization and automation are re-defining mobility and can be seen as a win-win for both, car owners and automobile manufacturers.

While cars were earlier seen as a luxury, they have now become a necessity and an integral part of lifestyle experience. They are much more than just means of personal commute. Apart from the avenues that mobility opened up for them, car owners are now ready for a new relationship with their vehicles, through smart cars and in-built ‘digital assistants’.

Digital is bringing next automobile revolution

For car manufacturers, digitalization is helping them maintain an ongoing and direct relationship with their customers, apart from getting access to data collected by these smart vehicles. This data is helping car manufacturers get insights into the ownership experience, driving behavior and vehicle response in different conditions, which aids their future development and business strategies. Digitalization is also automating the manufacturing processes with new efficiencies and helping them innovate on behalf of consumers with partners in the ecosystem, such as dealers and insurance providers.

Manufacturers are increasingly relying on technology across their processes

Automobile manufacturers are depending on digitalization like never before. Digital technologies are being applied across processes, right from product design to customer engagement. These include:

  • Digital technologies are being used for product and process simulations, closing the gap between product design and manufacturing feasibility. With virtual prototypes reducing cost of research and development, it is also leading to faster production and easy management of complexities.
  • With Supply Chain 4.0, supply chain management and logistics have become more automated.
  • Dealers and service networks are now closer to the automobile manufacturers, thanks to digitalization. Dealerships have become touchpoints for customer experience.
  • With customers moving to digital buying experiences, sales and marketing is embracing new technologies to include personalization and improve the car buying experience.

Digital technologies fulfill the promise of personalized mobility

With the advent of ‘smart’ cars that often come inbuilt with digital assistants, the relationship that people have come to have with their vehicles has transformed. Right from research around the kind of vehicle they want to buy, to the purchasing cycle that follows, people are turning to online channels or a combination of online and physical channels. This is the reason that many automobile manufacturers are turning to digital channels – to attract buyers and maintain a sustained relationship with customers.

With increasing digitalization, the driving experience has also seen a transformation. Smart cars are improving the driving experience in a myriad of ways – by informing their owners about the time taken to reach their destination, vital parameters such as air pressure in the tires, roads to avoid, parking assistance, speed warnings – and this is just the beginning.

Dashboards in cars have been reimagined and now are a portal for a host of infotainment and telematics services. In-car digital assistants not just improve conveniences, but also offer a host of services, such as vehicle tracking, security and 24/7 road assistance in case of any breakdown/ accident.

Reshaping public commercial transportation

Digital disruption is also now igniting imagination of new systems around public and commercial transportation. Online ticketing, online payments, tracking and other digital options are now seen as pre-requisites of an efficient public transport system. But to popularize use of public transport, urban planners are looking at the opportunities digitalization has to offer.

Digital solutions for fleet management and route optimization are being used by several public transport operators across the world, while apps integrating different modes of public transport – buses, trams, metro rail, mono rail etc. – are either already in use or are being developed in several cities.

The future of transport with autonomous, electric, connected and personal vehicles

The automobile sector is going through another paradigm shift. With climate change now more real than ever, automobile manufacturers are investing heavily in electric vehicles. Research is ongoing into the sphere of autonomous or self-driven cars, which is likely to herald a completely new era of transportation.

Despite the ground-breaking research and huge investment in these areas, car ownership has seen a decline. Towards this end, shared mobility, such as ride sharing or carpooling, could see a rise in the future.

Read More
Mobile Opinion

The modern Product Manager: mini-CEO, fire-fighter or orchestra conductor?

A day in the life of an average consumer today is filled with digital experiences. From the time we wake up (and check our social media feeds of course) to the end of the day, we interact with native mobile apps, websites, smart watches perhaps and maybe digital kiosks of some kind. A product manager and a team of experts are behind every such experience. They decide the features, look & feel, functionalities and more. But is that all they do? Is there scope to take a broader view of today’s product managers and their role in the success of an enterprise? I believe so. But first, what is product management? Up until recently, this term was used largely to convey project management. An enterprise would decide to revamp its website or app and that project would need to be managed within a specific time frame, specifications, quality and cost. The person leading such projects – by definition short term approach, would be the de facto Product Manager. Thankfully, things have changed.

Today, Product Management is a much sought after job across many markets in the world. According to a study, Product Management roles in the US have grown 32% over just a two year period. Aside from digital product led start-ups, several established enterprises and legacy companies are seeking the role of a product manager. What has led to this change?

Digital experience as a competitive edge: many enterprises operate in tough competitive categories where genuine, meaningful product differentiation’s are difficult to come by. In such a scenario, what the consumer perceives as a superior digital experience is an edge. As consumers we can experience it in taxi aggregator services, mobile banking, OTT streaming services and more. Loyalty towards a taxi aggregator app may depend on ready availability of vehicles, pricing, safety perceptions, the behaviour of drivers and other factors. But the experience with the native mobile app – the primary mode of brand interaction is critical and can make a difference. Similarly, our choice of an OTT service may depend on the catalogue of content and subscription pricing. Then again, the mobile app’s design and its intuitive ability to have a consumer hooked on and remain loyal makes a huge difference.

Consumer expectations – the bar is set higher: until recently, enterprise software was expected to be dowdy. Legacy companies believed that it was alright if a website, intranet or a tablet app was not aesthetically designed as long as it delivered on the basic functionalities. However, the same consumer who is expected to use an internal app or intranet of an enterprise also enjoys using a well-designed consumer-facing app. In fact, the latter has conditioned consumers to expect a better customer experience with all their brand interactions across categories.

A Product Manager in a digital environment is akin to the classic brand manager. Brand management is a concept well understood in the consumer products business. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever and many more owe their success to effective brand management – a phrase used to convey all aspects which impact success: product conception, feature augmentation, increase sales, build equity and command loyalty. Many believed that leading a business is much like managing a brand.

Which brings me to the three possible approaches to a Product Manager’s role: mini-CEO, fire fighter or conductor of an orchestra.

Product Manager’s role: mini-CEO, fire fighter or conductor of an orchestra.


Depending on the size, structure and hierarchy of an enterprise, the Product Manager may be given varying degrees of freedom to decide on the road map of a product. In large enterprises, where the digital experience is the business, the CEO or CXOs maybe directly responsible for the product concept, feature sets, design and more. Even in such a context, it is possible for the Product Manager to mentally re-orient one’s role as a Brand Custodian and take a broader, long-term view. This calls for understanding business needs, the larger business goal the digital product should meet and consumer needs & trends. Since Digital Transformation is not merely a buzz phrase in enterprises, this role can be critical in the changing the fortunes of the business.A typical CEO mindset sees P&L responsibility and treats digital not just as another channel – but aims to create a disruptive business model.

The fire-fighter

‘Wanted yesterday’ is the lead time on most digital products. Native mobile apps have product updates shipped regularly – some within a span of few weeks. In such a scenario, a Product Manager has to play the role of a fire-fighter – managing conflicts, solving issues, conducting stand-up meetings with agile teams, allocating resources, understanding the needs of design & technology, managing timelines and more. If the role is in a service organization, the role involves managing the client expectations too. It is critical to assume that user research is done and understood by all stakeholders. A fire-fighter mindset also goes with the philosophy of ‘fail fast and fail forward’.

An orchestra conductor

The day-to-day operations of product development can be seen as a perpetual struggle or as bringing harmony through diverse talents – in strategy, design and technology. A Product Manager can then see the role akin to that of a philharmonic conductor – orchestrating seemingly diverse talents to deliver a harmonious experience. The mindset her is to accept that there are many stakeholders (users, business leaders, marketing, engineering, design, etc.) and that are involved and need to collaborate to get a successful product in the market.

More often than not, all three roles maybe required to be performed in parts. In essence, a Product Manager’s role is balancing a strategic vision and driving operational details –a combination of having a birds eye view  and worm’s eye view, as it were. Another key trait of an effective Product Manager is to place the end-user’s needs at the centre. No decision pertaining to a product is due one’s personal inclinations or bias. In case of stakeholder conflicts, a Product Manager should only trust end user research.

In upcoming articles in this series on product management we will examine in-depth the characteristics of a great Product Manager, the tools and services essential for product management and relevant trends in the industry.

Read More
Mobile Opinion

5 aspects brand owners should think about before ‘going mobile’

A brand is a collection of thoughts and images in a consumer’s mind. These are driven largely by product usage, communication experience and word of mouth. Brands are also businesses for brand owners – they need to deliver ROI in terms of profitability, consumer loyalty and a strong equity. So whether you are an established consumer or enterprise brand or a startup hoping to make it big, the rules of the game are the same.

Read More
Mobile Opinion

Google I/O 2017 – beyond Android, focus on machine learning, AI and more

The announcements at Google I/O 2017, widely covered in tech media, are sure to have a wider impact beyond just mobile. Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google said in his keynote that ‘we are moving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world and we are rethinking all our products from that perspective’.

Read More
Featured Mobile Opinion

The rise of content blocker apps and implications for advertising

For months now, marketing, advertising and app-development industries have debated the implications of content blockers built into iOS 9. Now that iOS 9 has been released, ad blocker apps have appeared on the iTunes store and gained popularity in no time. Peace app, created by Marco Arment, former CTO of Tumblr and founder of Instapaper, is one such app.

Read More
Mobile Opinion Uncategorized

Apple’s September 9 event, Facebook M & more: tech & mobile news

The lines between digital, mobile, technology and apps are blurring in today’s world. We at Robosoft are keen followers of developments in this arena. At the end of every week, we will share with you highlights of news items which caught our eye in this space.

Apple Event: give us a hint

Read More
Mobile Mobile Buzz Opinion

Android Marshmallow, Project Sunroof and more: the week in tech & mobile

The lines between digital, mobile, technology and apps are blurring in today’s world. We at Robosoft are keen followers of developments in this arena. At the end of every week, we will share with you highlights of news items which caught our eye in this space.

Say mmmm to Marshmallow

Read More
Mobile Opinion Uncategorized

‘Personal brand is everything today’: Japjot Sethi of @Gloopt

At Robosoft, we are keen observers of developments in the converging world of digital, tech, people and brands. We hope to have ongoing conversations with thought leaders in the business & digital world about apps, technology and related developments. Here’s a brief chat with Japjot Sethi, Co-Founder & CEO

Read More
Mobile Opinion Uncategorized

Brand personality and apps: every touch point matters

Pundits say that brands have personalities. If you were to imagine a brand like MTV to come alive as a person, you’d expect it to talk and behave in a particular manner; and that personality will be driven by your brand experience. Similarly, brands like The Economist, Apple and Google have a distinct personality as shaped by their products, communication and how we imagine them to be.

Read More
1 2 3