Home > India, Technology > Technology is empowering…. and levered

Technology is empowering…. and levered

Much has been made of the telecom boom in India; that it is the fastest growing mobile market in the world for handsets, mobile voice and data services and network equipment. I got to see it first hand today with my chauffeur using his mobile effectively to coordinate pick ups and drop offs in a city devoid of parking spaces.  He would use “missed calls” for signalling to avoid paying for calls in a “calling party pays” regime; I would call him back.   It worked – the carrier still made money. That was cool.

I needed to get a mobile phone SIM card this morning which allows me to make and receive local phone calls including those from my chauffeur. A spate of crime in the earlier part of this decade was linked to prepaid SIM cards so now the government requires every new mobile phone account to have an ID and photographs on record. When I showed up at a hole in the wall drug store that dispensed everything from prescription medications to Gillette razors and mobile SIM cards, I discovered I had a passport for an ID but no pictures. The dude behind the counter promptly pulled out a mobile camera phone, propped me up against the wall and took a picture. Then he proceeded to beam the picture over a paired BlueTooth connection to a lunch-box sized printer. The whole process worked quite well: 2 passport sized pictures for $5. Now this was amazing!

I was impressed that a fairly unskilled sales clerk in a hole-in-the-wall retail establishment had created a passport photo facility using new media technologies: a Sony Ericsson camera phone, Bluetooth, and a tiny Japanese photo-printer. He made a couple of bucks after his costs, but he enabled Vodafone to acquire a profitable new customer (ARPU over $100/mo, LTV over $6000) with minimal friction. He also enabled a flurry of economic activity today that amounted to hundreds of dollars of value transfer when I went shopping today and possibly greased the skids on a real estate transaction.

Like money supply, technology creates empowerment which is highly leveraged into the economy. That is why I am moving my investing focus to India where a lot of tiny levers are being pulled at once to move one gigantic flywheel.

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Categories: India, Technology
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