Ajay Banga Talks About a Cashless World at The Fletcher School

“Imagine there’s no cash… no pieces of paper exchanged between us… imagine all the people living in a cashless world…”

The faculty and students at The Fletcher School at Tufts University were delighted to discover that they are not the only ones dreaming of such a cashless society. The mavens at MasterCard have been working at realizing this vision for a while now.

In a sequel to the “Killing Cash” conference held earlier this year in April, The Fletcher School’s Center for Emerging Market Enterprises (CEME) hosted an interactive conversation on October 28, 2011 between Ajay Banga, the CEO of MasterCard; Bhaskar Chakravorti, the Senior Associate Dean for International Business and Finance; Kim Wilson, CEME Senior Fellow for Inclusive Growth; and an interdisciplinary audience on a wide ranging conversation on financial inclusion, the road to a cashless society, the positive and negative externalities of a cash based and a cashless world, and the optimal balance between the two.

In keeping with his brand promise, Ajay Banga delighted the audience with priceless insights and compelling ‘Aha!’ moments on consumer behavior, and the role cultural influences play in the way we pay across the world.

Here is a quick video excerpt of Banga speaking during the conference:

On the topic of financial inclusion, Banga stressed the need for the actors in the payment industry and governments to work together both in the advanced economies and developing nations to change the tone of the dialog by focusing on growing the payments pie and on the importance of small incremental steps towards expanding the umbrella of inclusion by bringing the hitherto unbanked populations into the payment sphere.

Banga highlighted Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and collaboration amongst the players in payment delivery — the payment networks, mobile players and governments — as crucial to realizing an optimal mix between cash and cashless payments. He commended the efforts of the Indian government in their efforts to bring 600 million unbanked Indians into financial inclusion through a PPP initiative.

Asked to gaze into the crystal ball and predict how the world will make payments in the future, Banga expressed his optimism about mobile-based payments and the ‘fingerprint — retina recognition’ based payments leading the way in bringing about greater financial inclusion.

In addition to a very stimulating discussion on the road to a cashless future, the event resolved the debate on where the most priceless food is in Boston. Ajay Banga’s favorite pick is Ten Tables – you heard that first at Fletcher!

We really enjoyed the dialogue, and we’re curious – what are your thoughts on a cashless world?

Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi is a guest blogger and a student at The Fletcher School.