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E-Business Summit: Focus On Future, Not Past, Will Drive Growth

I watched the live webcast of the IAMAI E-Business Summit held at the ITC Grand Central in Mumbai. The webcast had its problems with a late start and then interruptions and regular buffering issues.
By the time the webcast began, I had already missed the presentation by Anupam Mittal, Chairman of the People Group, and Avnish Bajaj, Chairman of eBay India was midway through his talk. Bajaj spoke about how the e-business marketplace in India has evolved differently from that in the US – purely Internet companies in the US like Yahoo and Amazon were able to evolve fast enough because the media companies didn’t have time to react; in India, media companies have participated from the beginning. At the time of the dot com bust in India, the reality was behind the perception, now it is the other way round.
The ecosystem has evolved. The Indian railways now does half a million transactions a month. Advertising has evolved as a business model online because of what Google did with contextual advertising. Forget the valuation of Info Edge – the price itself is a testament to the kind of liquidity there is and the faith people have in this Internet business. In 2002, the market cap of Chinese Internet businesses was Rs.2000 crores, and now it’s around Rs.100,000 crores. The market cap of Internet businesses in India was Rs.3000 crores before the Info Edge listing and over the next few years the market cap of Indian internet businesses will grow – question is, who will take a piece of the market cap? The focus on the future will drive growth, not looking at the past.
During the Q&A, Anupam Mittal was asked about what IAMAI plans to do about influencing regulators on safety of online payment. Mittal responded that until now, the focus of the IAMAI was to get the industry together, and they have succeeded in developing sufficient influencing power. Regulatory issues remain the greatest challenge and the IAMAI has opened an office in Delhi to increase interactions with the regulators. Issues will have to be placed before the regulator now, in collaboration with CII and FICCI. The IAMAI is also talking to advertising agencies, telco’s and others, as well as going beyond Internet and Mobile companies. From the press release, it seems he had spoken about the importance of credit card penetration and increasing Internet usage to drive e-commerce.

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