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Sunday 18 October 2015

Payment Banks - Airtel Bank in the making?

I have always been bullish on the Indian financial sector. My logic is simple. Any industry where there is a very large disconnect between demand and supply is bound to do well. India is a cash / credit starved nation and any business which provides credit to people and businesses will do well over a very very long time. 

The history of Indian banking is very interesting. Refer to Banking in India on wikipedia for a good overview. By now, most people are used to the ubiquitous ATM machines and do not consider private banks as fly-by-night operators who will take their money and run away. We are at the cusp of the third major wave in Indian banking (nationalisation in the 70s and privatisation in the 90s being the first two). With the 11 new licenses given out by RBI for new payment banks, the playing field has been (once again) forever changed. Ten years down the line, banking will not be the same as today. Brace yourself for a huge disruption in the coming years.

So what are payment banks? For simplicity's sake, it is a "technology driven bank", mainly mobile based which will cover most of the services provided by a regular bank except giving loans. They can take deposits of upto Rs 1 Lakh and pay interest on it, provide debit cards, transfer money from one account to another. 

The 11 players who have got the licenses include some very very prominent names - Airtel, Vodafone, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Reliance, Mahindra, India Post, Dilip Sanghvi (promoter of Sun Pharma), Paytm, Cholamandalam and NSDL. All of them are big players in their own fields. Three of them stand out distinctly - India Post, Airtel and Vodafone. Their reach and penetration is really unmatched. Just as an example, Vodafone m-pesa accounts for more than 50% of the GDP of Kenya on its platform. 

Already, we are seeing a beginning of "Uber"isation of services. Players like Vodafone & Airtel who are already there with you. It is so much more convenient if you can just use the mobile to pay for your kirana purchases or on public transport or at petrol pumps. 

Where does that leave the existing banks? The existing large players will push strongly on their apps (HDFC, ICICI, SBI etc). The brunt of the disruption in my opinion will be borne by the mid sized PSU banks and the smaller private banks. We already saw a DCB Bank being routed on the bourses because they accepted the increased competition from these new players. There will be more to come. The age of easy-CASA money may be behind us. The mid sized banks would now have to tie-up with some of these payment banks or invest heavily in their own app infrastructure. 

Let us keep an eye out for the trio - Airtel, Vodafone and India Post for the next leg of banking disruption.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Indian Plywood Industry - Value Migration On The Way

The Indian Plywood industries is at the cusp of a new era. Over the last few years, the organised players (Century Ply, Green Ply, Kitply etc) have been growing at double the rate of the overall industry. This signifies that there is value migration happening from the unorganised unbranded products to the organised branded ones. The overall organised sector is growing 20-25% CAGR. Organised sector is 30% of the overall plywood sector.

The overall plywood industry size is Rs. 180 billion (source: Greenply AR 2015). The MDF industry size is Rs. 13 billion growing at 15-20% over the last 5 years. MDF is engineered wood made from wood (fibres), glued together using heat, resin and pressure. It is also a superior substitute for cheap unorganised plywood. It faces competition from imports. Demand in this sector is driven by ready-made modular furniture, modular kitchen, ready-to-move into offices/retail outlets, a need to substitute low quality plywood, affordability, increasing awareness of customers of better alternatives and shortage of time.

The Indian govt has imposed a ban on new licenses for manufacturing due to the environmental impact. This will help the existing majors.

Growth Levers
GST & its impact
    • Remove inter-state tax anomalies
    • Remove differential with unorganized sector hence a value migration from unorganized to organized players
Other growth levers
    • Home renovation cycle is declining
    • India's per capita income rising along with disposable income
    • Rising urbanisation and aspiration levels amongst people
    • Govt focus on "Housing for All" -- Rs 22,407 crores allocated by FinMin for 2015 to create 6 cr (2 cr urban + 4 cr rural) complete houses by 2022

    • Government Announcement regarding construction of 100  smart cities    
    • Focus by HFCs on Tier-2, Tier-3 locations

Over the short term (< 1 year), the industry may have moderate growth owing to the subdued demand in real estate sector. However, the growth levers are likely to kick in over the medium term (2-3 years). The industry looks to have bright prospects over the long term (10 years). It would be interesting to keep a watch on Century, Green and any new player in this space.