#14 | Sreeja — Future of Data Sharing
By Dhriti Agarwal, Lakshmi Ajayan & Prajna Nayak
This interview was conducted as a part of ‘Future of data sharing’ sponsored by Facebook. In this series, we interviewed participants around their access, adoption, and usage of financial products along with their perception of data sharing to financial institutions.
Disclaimer: The income range was self-reported by the participant. D91 Labs does not request the participants to disclose their exact income.
27-year-old Sreeja is an Administration Head at a college. She has been living in Hyderabad for the past 20 years with her parents, brother and sister. Sreeja plans to take a home loan and buy 3–4 houses to gift to her mother. She also wants to adopt 2 children and travel all over India.
- Sreeja has 1 bank account and it is the only one she has ever used. When she started working, her employer opened an account for her with HDFC. It is her salary account.
- She has a debit card linked to this account and recently applied for a credit card too. She has also linked the account to UPI Apps like Google Pay and PhonePe.
- Sreeja uses this account for NetBanking via the HDFC app for small amounts and the website for large amounts.
- Sreeja’s most preferred payment mode is UPI Apps like Google Pay and PhonePe, which she uses at small shops.
- She has 2 credit cards — one from Andhra Bank in 2018 and another from RBL in 2019. She uses them for online shopping, at supermarkets and while buying accessories and pays their bills online on the banks’ websites or in person at the bank.
- Sreeja recently applied for a third credit card from HDFC by submitting a form and documents.
- She has a debit card she carries under her phone cover always. She uses it if she forgets her wallet or wherever shops don’t take credit card or UPI.
- Sreeja uses Paytm’s digital wallet which she recharges every month via debit card. She has saved her debit card details on the app.
What prompted you to take credit cards from Andhra Bank and RBL?
The Andhra Bank people called and offered me a credit card with a 50,000 limit, which would be increased if I shopped online and paid the dues on time. RBL also called me a 50,000 limit for seven days. So I took these cards.
Was something missing in these two credit cards that you decided to apply for an HDFC one?
Actually, HDFC has points, offers on online, grocery or Amazon payments and 5–10% cashback. The RBL card has movie and shopping offers but Andhra Bank has no offers, points or cashback. So I thought of taking the HDFC card and using the RBL card for movies and online shopping. I will use Andhra at the supermarket etc.
How many times do you withdraw money from an ATM?
Wherever they don’t take credit card or UPI, I withdraw and use cash. I also withdraw cash for expenses my mother handles since she doesn’t know how to use any other payment mode. The ICICI ATM is close by.
How did you start UPI Apps and Digital Wallets?
My sister told me that wherever I will go, they will ask for Google Pay, Phone Pe. She said I could install and easily pay with Google Pay, so I did. My friend suggested PayTM for travelling purposes and they also give offers when I pay the electricity bill.
- Sreeja’s regular monthly expenses include rent, utility bills, petrol, groceries and the maid’s salary. She makes most of these payments via credit card or debit card.
- Sreeja gives her mother cash to pay for broadband and gas. She also splits some expenses with her father, sister and brother.
- She has saved her credit card details on the Airtel app and uses it to do mobile recharges for her mother and sister, apart from her own.
- Out of her 2 credit cards, she decides which one to use depending on the offers or cashback it offers. She has linked her RBL credit card to Amazon and Big Basket and uses it for 1+1 offers on movie tickets.
Is there any reason you save your debit card details on PayTM but not the government website you pay your electricity bill on?
Instead of saving, I just enter the details because there is no option to save card details on a website. They don’t ask, right? On any app, I’ll opt for saving card details. But I have saved my card details on IRCTC and Goibibo.
You mentioned that you paid for a French class in cash. Why is that?
They didn’t accept card or anything. They used UPI, but my Google Pay and PhonePe were not working then so I paid cash.
You mentioned that you split some monthly expenses with your family. How do you divide these expenses?
My father pays the rent, I take the electricity bill and pay it. My brother pays the OTT subscriptions and newspaper bills and my sister won’t pay for anything except DTH, cabs and shopping for dresses or shoes. I mostly take care of household expenses. We don’t divide it or say we’ll pay like this or that. It’s based on whoever uses anything the most.
Do you track your expenses using your passbook?
Yes, but we only write down expenses for groceries and the electricity bill. Occasionally, I visit the HDFC Bank, to get a particular statement if I need to show it somewhere. Then, I get my passbook updated and see how much I am spending or. Or I check the bank’s mobile app or Google Pay to see the balance and how much deposit and credit we have.
Do you have a budget for the month?
I keep in mind payments for loans and life insurance and a budget ₹4,000–5,000 for movies, shopping or eating outside. I don’t shop every month, only during special occasions or festivals. I spend on movies, lunch and dinner every Sunday. Then I save some percentage of my salary for emergencies or if my friends ask for some money. I ensure that there is always ₹20,000–30,000 in my HDFC account.
- Sreeja’s father took a home loan from his ICICI account to buy a new house in December 2018. The EMIs will be auto-debited from Sreeja’s account for 10–15 years.
- She also took an HDFC vehicle loan while purchasing a car at the showroom in 2018. She completed repaying the EMIs recently.
- Sreeja has never shopped on EMI or used ‘Pay Later’ options. She might take a home loan in the future.
Did you have any difficulty in getting the vehicle loan from HDFC?
No. When we went to the Nexus showroom to buy the car, they suggested I take this loan, so I did. I submitted my payslip, Aadhar and PAN card, bank statements and a surety signature. Within 24 hours, I got the loan.
Have you decided where you would like to take your future home loan from?
From HDFC Bank or Karur Vysya Bank, whichever has a lower interest rate. My friend suggested Karur Vysya Bank as he is currently repaying a loan he took from them. HDFC charges monthly EMIs so I don’t know the interest exactly but I know Karur Vysya Bank has a lower interest.
- Sreeja invested in an annual gold scheme with Joyalukkas in 2018, which she renews every year.
- On the recommendation of her father and colleagues, she also started an RD with HDFC in 2019. Monthly, ₹2000 is auto-deducted from her account.
- Sreeja also has a PF and its payments are auto-deducted from her salary every month. She doesn’t know how to track the amount that has accumulated in it.
- She doesn’t have any other form of investment but in the future, she might invest in the stock market.
- Sreeja seems to be unsure of her investments. Her investments are based on recommendations from friends and family and she doesn’t track their status.
Can you talk about the Joyalukkas gold scheme?
While buying earrings from Joyalukkas, they told me about this annual gold scheme. If I paid them ₹3000 for 10–11 months, after a year we could take any ornament for a month. If we wanted to purchase that ornament, they would pay ₹3000 for one month and we would have to add ₹20,000–30,000. It is an annual scheme and I keep renewing it.
How did you decide to make an RD with HDFC Bank?
My dad’s reference and some colleagues at college told me that since my expenses are very high, it is important to save the money. They also said that a salary account with HDFC was good and I should pay for an RD. So, I am paying.
Have you thought of when or how you might invest in stocks?
My brother-in-law is in the stock market so I just want to try it once.
- Sreeja has health insurance from ICICI Lombard, which was provided by her employer. Her policy covers her parents too and the premiums are auto-deducted from her salary.
- She does not have life insurance but might take a policy in the future. She has not thought about where she might take it from.
- Sreeja has 1–2 year vehicle insurance for the car and bike, which was provided by the vehicle companies themselves. She visits the showroom to pay the annual premiums via debit card.
- Sreeja uses a wide variety of devices, social media platforms and shopping and travel apps. She has 2 phone numbers on 2 smartphones — a small phone for work and an Oppo F9 Pro for personal use.
- She uses her personal phone for voice messages and audio and video calling on WhatsApp.
- When Chinese apps were banned, Sreeja immediately uninstalled Helo and SHAREit, without even deleting her account.
- She uses Facebook and Gmail to login to other apps but is very protective of her privacy.
When you bought your smartphone, what were the most important features that you looked for in that phone?
I chose that phone for selfie camera only. The back panel is also very pretty and shiny.
Have you ever changed any privacy settings on WhatsApp or Facebook? Why or why not?
Yes, I have. I don’t save unknown people’s numbers. Only saved numbers can see my DP and status on Whatsapp. I also hide my status from some people. I have been using Facebook for 7–8 years, but I never added my number or posted pictures of myself. I only post photos with work colleagues, family or friends. Even those Facebook photos are private, so unknown people won’t see. It’s the same for Instagram. I want this security otherwise a stranger will save that image and blackmail. Someone saved my friend’s DP and misbehaved.
Do you read the terms and conditions and privacy policies of apps before using them? Have you ever denied these apps any permissions?
Yes, I read those before using the apps. I read the first 4 lines, not the rest. I have read the policies for Google Pay, PhonePe and Amazon Prime. UPI Apps also ask for access to camera, recording and contacts. On Google Pay, Ola and Uber I denied access to contacts and camera. On Facebook and Insta, I will not allow access to contacts. I don’t want them to see my pictures, contacts, or what I do with my contacts. I don’t like that.
Is there any reason for not sharing your phone number?
While it’s compulsory to share my number with UPI and all those shopping and travel apps, I won’t share it with any music or video apps or even Facebook, Insta or Twitter. If I share my number with unknown people, sometimes people will call and talk ugly, misbehave or even propose. I have got calls from immature people so many times, I don’t know from where. I don’t like that.
Data Sharing and Privacy
- Sreeja’s first preference for a personal loan would be a government bank.
- She was initially open to taking a loan from UPI Apps but changed her mind later.
- Sreeja is unwilling to take a loan from UPI Apps, private banks and non-banks. This contradicts her decision to take a future home loan from Karur Vyasa Bank, which is a private bank.
Why are government banks your first preference?
Because we can close loans with government banks at any time, they give time and collect an exact amount. My aunt took a loan from a government bank and she knows exactly what she is paying and the interest is also very less. Private banks also you can close loans but they are rude and don’t give proper answers. They say you have to pay this much, that much. I don’t like private bank people. We took a loan from a private bank and we are paying higher interest. If the cheque bounces, they will deduct ₹1, ₹2, ₹1000, ₹1300 or ₹1500 without any intimation.
Why don’t you want to take a loan from a private bank or non-bank?
Bajaj Finserv is the worst bank I know with very high interest and rude people. If we have any money in the bank, they auto-deduct it and if we ask why they say “bank people only cut the money”. My neighbours took a personal loan from Bajaj Finserv and while repaying, they faced problems with the collecting people who are rude. Even ICICI Bank people don’t know how to talk. If someone doesn’t know how to make cash deposits or pay for loans, ICICI people tell some other amount and add extra charges for bounced cheques. My father has experienced this with ICICI Bank. They take amounts of ₹1,000–5000 without explanation. Yesterday my father got his salary and they deducted the home loan EMI and an extra ₹5,000. We are calling to bank people but they are not giving proper answers. Private banks are like that only, I don’t trust them.
Why did you change your mind about taking a loan from UPI Apps like Google Pay?
I won’t trust Google Pay because it is only an app, not a bank. On phone, it doesn’t tell when someone is calling from Google Pay or PhonePe so fraudulent people can also call. Someone claiming to be from Google Pay called me and asked for my ATM number otherwise my money would get deducted. The next minute I disconnected the call but it can happen.
We asked the participant what kind of data they would be interested in sharing across the different types of loan providers to borrow a personal loan.
- Sreeja is uncomfortable sharing her personal details with UPI Apps as it might lead to fraud calls.
- She is willing to share all her details with government and private banks, except for her investment details and social media:
“Why do they want to know my gold scheme and social media, it is personal no? If they want to understand their customer better, I am giving my personal details and on entering my account number, they will know my RDs, loans, credit score and IT returns. They can check that, investments and social media are not required. I don’t want to give.”
To further cross their statements we asked the participants to choose from two different types of loans based on their varying data requirements and captured their thoughts.
- Sreeja doesn’t mind sharing extra ID proofs in exchange for a lower interest rate. However, she won’t share her social media, even for a lower rate of interest.
Why do they need to see bank statements continuously? They know my loan repayment capacity already. I am getting a ₹55,000 monthly salary and I have given them the last three months bank statement. They know about us and what we are. Then why this again, I don’t understand that.
I don’t want my information to be shared with third parties. I don’t like this even if I know who they are sharing it with. I am paying the loan, they are not paying, right? Why do they want to tell a third party?
Goals and aspirations
- In the short-term, Sreeja plans to take a home loan for herself. She also wants to travel and see all of India.
What are your long-term goals?
I just want to settle happily after 30 years and have my own car. I want to buy 3–4 houses with my own hands and give them to my mom. My dream is to adopt 2 children and I just want to tell them to study.
How do you plan to save up for your goals?
I will just save the money in my bank account itself. I will keep ₹20,000–30,000 and slowly lessen my expenses and shopping and increase my savings.
- Interviewed by Lakshmi Ajayan
- Analysed and written by Dhriti Agarwal
- Edited by Prajna Nayak
Future of Data Sharing:
‘Future of Data Sharing’ aims at designing a playbook for consented sharing to enable financial services in India. The objective of this research is to develop a design toolkit with the upcoming public infrastructure Account Aggregators as the main theme in focus. The toolkit will host resources and assets around designing better user experiences for data sharing and data portability.
Future of Data Sharing is sponsored by Facebook and executed in collaboration with D91 Labs, DICE, Parallel Labs, TTC Labs and Sahamati.
Future of Data Sharing by D91 Labs is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
TTC Labs is a cross-industry effort to create innovative design solutions that put people in control of their privacy. Initiated and supported by Facebook, and built on collaboration, the movement has grown to include hundreds of organisations, including major global businesses, startups, civic organisations and academic institutions.
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About the Research
This documentation is a result of the in-person interview, along with the participants’ consent. The interviews might be conducted in their native languages and translated to English in the best possible way to reach a large audience.
Disclaimer: The identities of people and places in this documentation have been changed to honour the privacy of the participants.
About D91 Labs
This research was executed and documented by D91 labs. D91 labs is an open-source initiative by setu.co to help Bharat build great fintech products. We organise and publish user research, insights, and frameworks for fintech in India. Please follow us on medium for more exciting stories and insights on Bharat.
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