The fintech market has witnessed massive technological changes in the last few years. Blockchain, AI, and cloud being the centre of these innovations has enhanced the user experience. While the market is flooded with digital payments solutions, the demand-supply gap for tech talent and developers remains a consistent challenge.
Nirav Kamdar, Director and Chief Technology Officer, Amazon Pay discusses the need for a diverse tech force, recruiting people with the right skill sets, and knowing how to ensure future growth.
Can you share any use case where newer technology will be deployed in digital payments apart from Blockchain?
Technology is at the nerve center of payment solutions, which is helping solve population-scale problems to ensure a smoother experience and reduce failures. There are various use cases in the fintech industry where the implementation of newer technologies has made the user experience more convenient, customer backward, and personalised. For example, with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) we can now recognize a saved voice in the database and use that to accept commands and complete transactions, making headway into a futuristic payment checkout experience. Machine Learning algorithms have also been deployed in a variety of use cases, from personalising the customer experience, to detecting fraud and abuse, to determining the eligibility of financial products.
In addition, Cloud and Biometrics based solutions continue to advance the fintech industry at large and help make the overall digital transaction experience seamless and frictionless for users. UPI players are able to utilise cloud-based architectures to build fast, secure, and highly available systems for their customers. Similarly, the use of Biometric technology on smartphones is enabling a seamless and convenient payment experience, while continuing to ensure high security.
How is the fintech market in India different from the foreign market? What according to you is the demand-supply gap for developers?
The closest global comparison that we can draw for India is with other APAC markets. In markets such as China and Singapore, advancements in the fintech industry started much earlier and had a significant lead time as compared to India. In these markets, the goal of most fintech companies now is to create distinct solutions and value propositions for the existing customer base. On the other hand, despite rapid growth over the past few years, which has propelled India as one of the fastest growing fintech markets in the world, the industry is still in its early stages. India remains an untapped market due to the low penetration of financial services. These untapped opportunities, combined with high internet penetration, expanding middle-income and high-income households, and favourable government initiatives create large growth potential for fintechs in India. In the past few years, the Indian consumer’s willingness to use digital methods of payments has increased. Hence, fintech companies in India are actively focusing towards further developing their partnerships with traditional banking, insurance, and retail sectors, to actively cater to evolving customer needs. All these factors indicate a positive shift towards FinTech and present a huge growth potential for the industry, with the country gearing towards massive adoption.
However, despite such massive growth in the fintech industry both in India and globally, the demand-supply gap for tech talent/developers remains a consistent challenge. Like any other tech industry, the fintech industry is also focusing on increased Learning and Development initiatives and aims to bridge this gap by continuously reskilling its tech workforce. I am confident that with the rapid adoption of digital payments and the growth of the industry, this gap will also rapidly decrease in the coming days.
What are the key skills that can help developers build/catapult their careers in fintech?
The fintech industry has a huge demand for critical tech skills. In my opinion, expertise across the following technical skills can give developers an edge and help them propel their careers in the industry:
Cybersecurity Expertise: With the rise in the volume of digital transactions in India’s burgeoning system, there is a growing need to ensure the security and safety of customers’ financial data. Hence, the requirement for skilled cybersecurity professionals has become extremely critical.
Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning: These technologies help companies deeply understand their customer, customise product offerings, and improve efficiency. Hence the need for data scientists and AI/ML architects, which can equip FinTechs with such capabilities, is on the rise.
User Interface/User Experience Design (UI/UX): Customer experience is at the core of the fintech industry and one of the strongest differentiators for all players. A UI/UX designer plays a key role in improving the overall customer experience as they help in creating a frictionless Human-Computer Interaction. Hence, companies are always on the lookout for skilled and experienced designers to help them create intuitive UX flows.
Cloud Computing: Fintech companies need massive amounts of computing power and database management systems to make digital transactions instant and seamless. Cloud computing meets these needs, while providing scalability, elasticity, and security out-of-the-box. To make the most of cloud advantage, fintech companies need experts with deep cloud-computing knowledge.
What are some of the unique/industry-first technology/solutions in the market? Anything you would like to share specific to Amazon Pay?
In recent years, India's payments infrastructure has seen substantial improvements, particularly with the introduction of new payment mechanisms and interfaces such as Immediate Payments Service (IMPS), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), and others. With such massive scale, we have seen some breakthrough innovations which are driving faster adoption of digital payments. The introduction of AI/ML has been a game-changer. It has started being used to personalize customer experiences. Additionally, biometrics which includes fingerprint scans, voice recognition, and face scan is already emerging as the next frontier to make digital payments more secure. However, despite the growth of digital payments in India, there are still many untapped regions owing to lack of internet connectivity. To address this challenge, RBI recently launched UPI for feature phones as a defining solution to bridging this underlying gap.
Solving payments and financial needs and simplifying lives of every Indian is our core mission at Amazon Pay. Towards this end, we constantly seek newer ways to evolve and serve our customers better. We have introduced various simplified technological innovations like voice-based payments using Alexa, Smart Stores initiative which improves customers’ shopping experience in brick-and-mortar stores, cash-load at doorstep feature to encourage migration of cash users to digital payments, and many more.
For the ease and convenience of merchants, we have made our merchant experience fully digital, enabling them to sign up for Amazon Pay digitally. Our architecture enables banks to create core banking services in the cloud, and we work closely with our UPI partners to improve connectivity, resiliency, and availability of the larger payment ecosystem. Going forward too, we will continue to drive universal acceptance and aim to make the user experience intuitive and accessible to serve virtually every payment and financial need.
What kind of opportunities are there for cross-functional experiences? How does Amazon Pay nurture a culture that is unique within the Amazon ecosystem?
In recent times, cross-functional team structures have gained popularity among various fintech organisations. Cross-functional teams bring people together from different segments to achieve the company’s common goals and ensure utmost customer satisfaction. It gives them an opportunity to upskill and develop a holistic problem-solving attitude.
For example, at Amazon Pay, we employ full-stack developers to build highly resilient, low latency, large-scale distributed systems. These developers work with our external partners and influence the architecture of third-party systems. In addition to this, we recognize opportunities and employ machine learning and technology wherever required to ensure seamless customer experiences.
While we are a closely knit entity within, we have our own unique identity with a wide variety of roles across job families. Furthermore, as a part of the dream team at Amazon Pay, our tech employees get to work directly with the product, business development, business intelligence, and even the marketing teams. This allows a deeper understanding of product-service evolution and enhances the workflow. We believe that cross-functional collaborations provide a holistic perspective of how a business is operated. It fosters a sense of collaboration and integration amongst the employees and brings them closer to the company and its vision.
This article first appeared in TECHGIG and has been reproduced with permission.