#2 |Basker: Decoding Bharat 🇮🇳

Dharmesh Ba
D91 Labs
Published in
11 min readMay 13, 2019


When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Short story:

Basker is a 29-year-old man who works as an admin manager in a Homeopathy clinic based out of Bangalore. Basker is unmarried and stays with his family. He takes immense pride in the fact that all their family members live under one roof which includes his parent, siblings along with their partner and their kids. Basker’s family recently built a home in Bangalore and this sweet little home came with a cost and this story is about his aspirations and dreams to solve his family debt.

Financial Journey💰:

  • Basker is the youngest of the three siblings with an elder sister and a brother, both of whom are married and they all stay together.
  • Basker’s family recently built a new home with a concrete roof by demolishing their old one and it was his brother in law who lent a helping hand. Basker’s family required around 22 lakhs to build a new home which was lent by his brother in law, who in turn had borrowed a part of this money from a few of his friends.
  • Though Basker is indebted for the help that was lent, he also faces the burden to pay this huge amount back to his brother in law.

The aspiring businessman👨‍💼:

  • Basker strongly believes that starting his own business is the only way to get him out this debt cycles.
  • He has his own little idea of selling condiments to local stores and he has also prototyped the model by preparing condiments in small amount and selling them.
  • His condiments seem to be well received by the shopkeepers but he now needs money to buy the machines and produce them in large quantities.
  • He estimates that he would need around 8–9 lakhs to set up his business.
  • Basker gets to meet a lot of businessmen who come to the clinic and that acts as a source of information about running a business but I doubt if those would materialise into helping his credit situation.

Snippets from the transcript:

I’m not a very educated man. I don’t hold any certificates. I will never get a job in a big company like these software companies. The only way for me to earn money is to start a business. I have even enquired for the machines that would be required for the business and the costing comes way above my budget. I can’t arrange all that money by myself. The machinery setup comes to around 8–9 lakhs. I can’t afford that at one go. I even thoughts of starting something small, but you see the market is full of competitions and we will have to give quality products at a cheaper price and that how you will sustain in the market.

Credit Sources:

Snippets from the transcript

D: Did you apply for a loan somewhere?

B: No, I did not apply. My mama is in a government job in Goa. If a government employee applies for a loan, he could get it pretty quick. So I have requested him to get a loan on behalf of me. I am promising him to pay back the loan like a monthly instalment. I did not go and apply myself anywhere because I did not have that urgency at that point in time. My mama had come home in February and I had told him about my loan situation. He had asked me a couple of months time to tell the decision. I will again remind him by April. Irrespective of whether he agrees to get me a loan or not, I will have to move further with this idea. Also even if I take a loan from the bank, I have no idea of how to pay back and the interest rates they would charge. I have no knowledge of banking. I used to get calls from the banks to take a loan but I was not in that mind space at that time. I got this idea only like a year back.

Financial Planning:

  • Basker plans the finances of the family along with his brother. Though it’s done in an informal way, Basker exhibits instances where he cares about his brother’s financial situation too.
  • Mom takes care of expenses of running the home on a day to day basis with contribution from both her sons.

D: Who do talk to about your financial decisions?

B: I talk to my family, especially with my brother in law. He would give me ideas about the market and money. I also talk to staff at the clinic who are close to me.

D: Do you have insurance for yourself or for your family?

B: I had once subscribed to life insurance for my mom. But I did not pay the premium regularly. It was around 1800Rs per month. I paid for almost four months and later did not pay. I have the documents at home. At that time there were some financial problems, so couldn’t continue paying.

D: Do you have health insurance?

B: No, we don’t. My brother once got a TTK card, which on submitting the bills gives you a partial refund. Even the life insurance one was suggested by my friend as someone he knew was a LIC agent and wanted customers.

D: Have you ever invested in chit funds or other schemes?

B: No, I haven’t. But once few people from Ujjivan had come to my home and explained their schemes and to us that we could pay weekly interest of just Rs100 but I did not take any action or ask any further. It just didn’t occur to me.

D: Do you have a bank account?

B: Yes, I have a salary account. My previous company had opened it for me. It was also a Kerala company and its a Kerala bank called South Indian bank. I use that.

Tech Journey💻:

  • Basker owns a Samsung J mobile which was gifted by a friend three years back in return for help he once did for interior design.
  • He uses all the inbuilt apps and has also downloaded apps like PhonePe and BHIM.
  • Basker does not know about UPI but has a vague idea about how apps like PhonePe work.
  • I found it interesting that Basker that the various UPI apps solve a different problem and his perception about it.
  • Basker recently made his first QR scan transaction as a shop owner did not have change and he insisted him to pay through the app.
  • Orders regularly from Amazon, Flipkart and Swiggy.
  • Finds is convenient to pay through UPI apps or Debit card.
  • Hasn’t tried net banking as he finds it complicated.

Snippets from the transcript:

D: What mobile do you own?

B: I own a Samsung smartphone. The model is J7. Bought this phone three years ago. It was actually a gift. Helped a friend of mine in some interior work as I had previous experience. He gifted me this phone as I had only a basic mobile at that time. It was quite difficult to manage both my regular job and interior work.

D: What apps do you use in your mobile?

B: What do you mean by apps?

D: Like youtube is an app, like that.

B: I use youtube. I use all that is inbuilt. Other than that I use PhonePe, Google Pay. I used to have PayTM but later deleted it

D: Why did you delete it?

B: I did not like it that much. I installed it at that time but didn’t find it useful later. I also download some games and play.

D: Do you purchase online?

B: I have ordered previously on Amazon and Flipkart. I once ordered a phone for my brother. I regularly order food from Swiggy.

D: What’s your preferred mode of payment?

B: Earlier I use to order through cash on delivery. Now after I installed Google Pay and PhonePe, I use them to pay online or I use a debit card. Once you store the details it gets saved, the next time you will have to just enter the CVV number and OTP and it gets paid.

D: How did you learn this? By yourself?

B: No. I don’t have much idea about it. A fellow staff helped me to do this. Even when I wanted to create an account on Amazon, I had no idea. I contacted a friend who is good with all these things, he helped me create an Amazon account. He told me that if I enter the address once I don’t have to enter it again. That’s how I learnt it step by step.

D: Have you ever scanned and paid in stores?

B: I have paid once. That too two days back. I had gone to purchase something in Nilgiris opposite to the clinic. The bill was 35Rs and they did not have change for 500 and they refused to take accept card payment as the minimum amount should be 100. They asked me if I have PhonePe and at that time I scanned and paid.

D: Do you know what is UPI?

B: No I’m not sure.

D: Do you know how the money is transferred from your bank account in PhonePe?

B: No, I don’t know. It just goes and I don’t know much about the working of it. I just know, it takes money from your bank account. Even this I did not install out of my own interest. The doctor asked to install and said that I would get some money. He sent me a link and I installed it. For the first transaction, I got some 58Rs and then I would get a reward for every Re1 I send. I installed because I was getting a reward and not out of my own interest. I use these online apps but I am not aware of their history.

D: Have you ever sent money through these apps?

B: I have used BHIM to send money to people. I got to know about it from our security guard. He was once telling me about BHIM and how we could send money to others for free. Before that, I would go to Western Union to send money to my friends whom I owe. I used to pay 30Rs for western union. That’s when I installed BHIM to send money. I don’t have time to go to the bank and send. Hence was using Western Union money transfer.

Personal Journey 👪:


  • Basker owns a bike and uses it to commute from home to clinic and back.
  • He likes to spend most of his time in the clinic. Even though he has an option to take a day off in a week, he chooses not to.
  • Basker prefers to spend time alone and since most of his friends are married, he seldom gets a chance to meet them or travel with them.
  • He gets his information by watching local news channels like TV9 Kannada or TV9 Telugu
  • Basker is fond of listening to music and has set up a sound system for himself at his home.

D: How do you consume the news?

B: We have a TV at home but I rarely watch television. I watch news from TV9 Kannada and TV9 Telugu. But my family members watch some serial. If there are any good programs on Sunday then I watch them like a singing show or a reality show. I like watching cinema and music. Actually, have quite an interest in music. I load the songs on my mobile and keep hearing them whenever I get time. When I wake up I hear loud music. We have a home theatre setup at home.

D: Do you go on vacations?

B: If friends come together and ask me for a vacation I join them. But now most of them are married and they travel with their wives and we don’t travel as friends anymore. I go to the wedding if it happens around Bangalore. I come in a regular dress that day to the clinic and I go directly from here.

D: What do you do in your free time?

B: I don’t like sitting at home and I like mostly to be alone. So I go to parks and spend some time to reflect upon. Even in the clinic I have an open top take one day off but I don’t take offs. I come here and spend my time here.

Belief system:

  • Though Basker is very close to his family, he is sceptical about relatives helping him during a crisis.
  • Strongly believes that starting a business is the only way for him to move to the next level in life and that is seen by his repeated mention of this information throughout the conversation.

Snippets from the conversation:

Because, if you approach a relative, they wouldn’t give you proper advice as they are generally jealous of your growth. My family is very supportive of such things and I discuss with them. Friends are also not that supportive. They have their own life, wife and kids to take care of. I talk to people who come for hair therapy sessions. There are businessmen also who come here. I talk to some people casually. Even if I get a small point out of it, I catch hold of that.

Aha Moment:

The moment of surprise in the conversation.

  • Basker has done an odd number of jobs in the past decade from being a KYC agent to a procurer for an interior design firm.
  • He seems to have good knowledge of the procuring material for interiors and has helped a friend for the same. His tight work schedule doesn’t allow him to do any extra work.

To read the complete transcript of the interview, please use the following link

Complete interview transcript

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 name in this documentation is masked to honour the privacy of the participant.

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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Dharmesh Ba
D91 Labs

Building @D91Labs, Design lead @setu. NID alumnus, ex-Cleartax. All things fintech.