Technology evangelist Sam Pitroda has another innovation up his
sleeve and this time, he says, it will change the way people the
world over look at money and carry out transactions by putting a
"digital wallet" into mobile phones.
The inventor of the Casio Digital Diary, which was a rage in the
1980s, Pitroda’s company C-Sam has developed a mobile money
transaction platform that, he vouches, will transform today’s
concept of banking, credit cards, payments and money.
His latest innovation has also been explained in his new book --
"The March of Mobile Money: The Future of Lifestyle Management" --
that was released by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek
Singh Ahluwalia at the India International Centre Tuesday evening.
"Today all your credit, debit cards are put in an envelope and
sent to you. In the future, your plastic cards will be digital and
sent to your new address -- your mobile phone," Pitroda said at
the well-attended launch function.
"This involves the convergence of banks and merchants along with
the user. And this is already happening. It is almost here."
Pitroda, who is advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on public
information, infrastructure and innovation, says the inspiration
for his latest invention was his wife Anu, who would spend hours
writing cheque after cheque.
It was then he thought of the concept of "mobile money" that
combines the cash you have in your bank account, credit cards,
bank accounts, mobile phone and a secure transaction gateway all
into a digital wallet of convenience.
The book has been co-authored by his long-time associate at the
Chicago headquartered C-Sam Mehul Desai and published by Harper
Pitroda said the use of technology and communications in
commercial activities can help transform a country like India,
empower citizens, reach social uplift programmes more effectively
and bring about a drastic lifestyle change in both urban and rural
With over 600 million mobile phone subscribers in India, this
electronic version of the leather wallet can deliver personalised
and secure services individually to a wide spectrum of users
covering almost all sectors, he said.
In today's world, Pitroda said, more than 10 billion cards are
produced every year. "The mobile wallet would, in the future,
replace these cards, bringing down the cost of transaction and
Pitroda, who also chairs the National Innovation Council and
headed the now defunct National Knowledge Commission, had filed a
patent for the mobile wallet in 1994.
The technology, he says, is already present and used in some form
in countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Singapore. This
apart, a version of this technology called iMobile -- is also
being used by ICICI bank.
The application of this technology -- as has been with his
numerous innovations, notably the Casio Digital Diary -- seems
To pay for a transaction, one has to navigate to the menu of a
mobile phone and click on the designated icon. The phone asks how
to pay, and one then clicks on the credit card. The transaction is
done over a secure encrypted platform.
What is more, one can also plug-on this platform to a computer,
see the history of transactions, the balance cash, the spending
pattern, charts, graphs and even take a printout of receipts, said
"With mobile money, I can buy something from Brazil, pay in
rupees, and charge it to my account in Chicago."