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区块链和人工智能为Infosys打开印度电子支付的新大门

科技注定要重新定义印度的银行业。

电子支付正在迅速的颠覆喜欢现金的印度人民的支付习惯。根据2017年4月一项关于互联网安全和信任的全球性调查,86%的印度人说在将来的一年中可能会使用移动支付,这一比例比全球57%的平均值高出不少。到2020年,这个世界第三大经济体将拥有一个5000亿美元的电子支付市场,占GDP15%。

IT巨头Infosys则引领这一巨变。自1999年起,其全资子公司EdgeVerve Systems运营的电子银行平台Finacle就一直向各类金融机构提供银行数据库管理系统。如今,印度前40大银行中有七成以及100多家合作社银行都使用Finacle的银行平台来管理自家的IT基建和应用。截止去年六月,印度最大的电子钱包公司,有着2亿2500万用户的Paytm使用Finacle平台支持自身的支付银行业务。甚至像电信公司Airtel这样的非银行机构也开始和Finacle合作来推动无现金支付。

Finacle业务涉及全世界94个市场,处理8亿5000万用户的账户,日交易量在5000万至7500万间。

《石英》杂志就印度电子支付前景采访了Finacle副总裁兼产品策略负责人Rajashekara Maiya。

以下是采访摘要:

去除大面值纸币流通后,现金逐渐回到印度的经济中。电子支付在印度已经要开始由盛转衰了吗?

该领域还很有潜力。确实最近有些许回温,但2017-2018年间,价值2500亿卢比的交易将由电子方式进行。印度现在平均每人每年的非现金交易只有11笔,中国26笔,而加拿大则是728笔。再来看一下销售点的数量,即接收电子支付的销售点、ATM机和收费站的数量。印度每一百万人的支付点只有1100,而中国16000、加拿大超31000。印度电子支付增长的潜力十分巨大。

那什么时候会发生呢?

印度政府已经提供了足够的指导意见和基础设施。其他国家都没有这样的基础设施:Jan Dhan、the Aadhaar等。使用电子支付等小商贩可以获得税收优惠,有些还可获得补贴。这种激励机制和基础设施将降低每笔交易的成本。印度政府还要求电信部门明年必须向每个用户每个月提供免费100MB数据。

安全是一大担忧。什么技术能够让电子交易更加安全?

区块链可以使交易更安全、无法被黑且更透明。中间商被抹除,该技术能够提供实时在线交易,而且数据很安全。这有点像Uber和Airbnb的运作模式。一个人想要租个房或租辆车,另一个人则正好想有偿出租自己的房间或车子。区块链的运作方式与之相同,但中间没有整合方。你提出需求,你获得匹配,成立一个电子或智能合同。

这只是个理论方案还是Finacle正在部署区块链技术?

Finacle和许多在区块链领域进行过重要研究的学者以及硅谷创企都对话过。区块链技术能帮助我们改变支付尤其是跨境支付的模式,以及我们如何认证客户的电子身份。我们培训了40个员工,让他们利用自己的知识来创建方案。这个专门小组由Infosys在四月创立。2016年10月,阿联酋的Emirates NDB银行和印度的ICICI银行成为使用区块链技术支持跨境支付的首批测试用户。之后,澳大利亚、亚洲、欧洲和美国的超过16加银行加入了这一项目。

银行业自动化不断发展,区块链又有潜力抹去中间商(即银行),那在这个行业中还有人工职位吗?

图灵1950年代制造出超级计算机时人工智能和机器学习就已存在了。但它们的应用在过去两三年间才真正发展起来。但机器负责的是重复性的工作。比如我去ATM取5000卢比(我重来不数从机器里取出的钱)。如果我去柜台取钱,我就会数一下,因为我们担心人会出错。AI改进了过去人力提供的服务和能力,使过程更加便宜高效。AI提升了一个人的知识和技能组。但AI的功能没有固定定义也没有界限,全凭你如何使用它。比如,我们创建防欺诈算法;算法擅长找出规律和行为,从几百万的交易中辨识出可疑交易,但之后它们就需要人类智慧的支持来做出正确的决定。

Technology is set to redefine banking in India.

Digital payments are rapidly disrupting the cash-friendly nation’s spending habits. In an April 2017 global survey on internet security and trust, a whooping 86% of Indians said they would likely use mobile payments over the next year, well above the world average of 57%. By 2020, Asia’s third-largest economy is poised to have a $500 billion digital payments market, contributing to 15% of the country’s GDP.

And IT giant Infosys is at the forefront of this change. Since 1999, Finacle, a digital banking platform run by its wholly-owned subsidiary, EdgeVerve Systems, has been providing bank database management systems to various financial institutions. Today, close to 70% of India’s top 40 banks and over 100 cooperative banks use Finacle’s banking platform to manage their IT infrastructure and applications. As of last June, Paytm, India’s largest e-wallet with over 225 million customers, has been using Finacle for its payments bank business. And even non-banking entities, such as telecom company Airtel, are partnering with Finacle to help customers go cash-free.

Altogether, Finacle serves over 94 markets across the world, handling the accounts of 850 million customers, and logs a daily transaction volume of between 50 million and 75 million.

Quartz spoke to Rajashekara Maiya, the associate vice-president and head of product strategy at the company, about the road ahead for digital payments in India.

Edited excerpts:

With digital payments slowing down as cash has gradually come back into the economy after demonetisation, has the sector peaked?

There’s a lot of scope. Yes, there is a marginal reduction but…Rs2,500 crores (worth of transactions) will be done through digital by 2017-18. In India today, non-cash payment transactions by Indians per capita per annum is 11 compared to 26 in China and 728 in Singapore. Look at the number of sale points—point-of-sale units, ATMs, toll booths accepting digital payments. Pay-points per million people is only 1,100 in India—it’s over 16,000 in China and over 31,000 in Singapore. There’s a very large scope of digital transactions getting increased substantially (in India).

Sure, but by when will it happen?

The government has given enough guidance and infrastructure. This kind of infrastructure is unheard of in any other part of the globe: The Jan Dhan, the Aadhaar…small traders and vendors who make digital payments can claim tax breaks, some can claim some subsidy. The incentivisation and infrastructure will bring the cost down per transaction. The government has (also) given the mandate to the department of telecom that by the next one year, (it must) set aside and provide free data—100mb per month per user.

Security is an important concern. What technologies can make digital transactions more secure?

Using blockchain makes transactions secure, unhackable, and transparent. It takes out the middleman, provides real-time online transactions, and data is safe… It’s like how the Uber or Airbnb platform works today. A person wants to rent a room or a car and, on the other side, a person is ready to rent his room or drive a car for a fee. Blockchain exactly does that without an aggregator being in the middle… you request, you match, (and) form a digital contact or smart contract.

Is that just a theoretical solution or is Finacle deploying blockchain technology for transactions already?

Finacle has spoken to many academics who’ve conducted fundamental research in blockchain (and) Silicon Valley startup companies. It helps us in terms of changing the paradigm of payments—especially cross-border payments—and the digital identity of a customer. We’ve trained around 40 of our staff, who we call the “blockchain black bench,” to use their knowledge to create solutions. (The group) was launched by Infosys in April 2016. In October 2016, one UAE bank called Emirates NDB and India’s ICICI bank were part of the first pilot (test) using blockchain for cross-border payments. Since then, we’ve on-boarded 16-plus banks across Australia, Asia, Europe, and the US on this network.

With automation picking up in the banking sector, and the scope of blockchain weeding out the middlemen (namely banks), is there still room for human jobs in the sector?

AI and machine learning have been around since Alan Turing made the super-computer in the 1950s but the application of that has not really taken off the way we’ve been seeing in the last two to three years. However, machines manage repetitive tasks. For example, I go into an ATM and ask for Rs5,000—I never count notes from the machine. Instead, if I go and draw in front of a teller, my tendency is to count it because we feel there’s a possibility of human error. AI augments services and capabilities beyond what used to be manual and (processes) become much more cheaper, more efficient. It is elevating one’s knowledge and skill sets. But it has undefined and unlimited capabilities. It’s about how you leverage that. Like, we build algorithms to prevent fraud; they’re good at picking up patterns and behaviors, pinpointing among the millions of transactions happening, but they need the support of human intelligence to take the right decision (thereafter).


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