Gagan is an ambitious 27-year-old who grew up in Jhansi and is currently residing and working in Bengaluru for an IT firm. Having completed his schooling from a Hindi medium and graduation and post-graduation from national government institutes outside his hometown, his future aspirations include going abroad — to work or to study. He purchased his first car within his first two years as a working professional and has started his investment journey proactively leveraging online tools and applications supplemented by advice from his friends and colleagues. This story is an attempt to capture his personal financial journey in relation to technology.
Gagan’s income enables him to afford a comfortable, independent urban lifestyle. In addition to his car, he has also purchased his own laptop, DSLR camera, fridge and smartphone. He also invests in his personal relationships — eating out and travelling with friends as well as periodically visiting his hometown. He admits that he has some trouble keeping a tab on his additional expenses.
From the transcript
S: What is your monthly expenditure?
G: I’m left with around 50% of my salary after expenses. My major monthly expenses are Rent, fuel and the EMI for my car loan. I also eat out frequently — as a matter of fact I have been eating out for the last couple of days.
S: What happens to the other 50% of your monthly income?
G: I invest 20–30% of this. The rest stays in my account but there are additional expenses — I go home every 2–3 months, so that is also a major expense. The thing with me is that money tends to get spent somewhere or the other.
- Gagan’s father opened his first bank account with the State Bank of India (SBI). This account currently serves as his secondary account and his brother in law, who works at SBI helps him to manage it —
S: When did you open your first bank account?
G: My dad had opened an SBI account for me when I turned 18. He trusts that bank — for instance, the only payment app he uses is SBI BHIM — he doesn’t trust Google Pay and PhonePe.
S: How do you manage this account now?
G: I keep transferring my savings to that account and manage my investments from there. My brother in law works there (SBI) so wherever he goes, I transfer the account to that branch.
S: How does your brother in law help you manage your account?
G: When I broke my ATM card, I went to him and he told me the process — write an application, submit it. Basically I went to the branch, took a signature and he forwarded my application. So I had to go just once.
- Gagan opened his second account with Allahabad Bank, which was recommended by his undergraduate institute to its students. He no longer uses this account actively because it is inconvenient for him to do so —
S: When did you open your second bank account?
G: With Allahabad Bank during my UG (under graduation). My father sent my college fees to this account, there was no need to write a draft and I could directly transfer the money from my account to the college account.
S: How do you manage this account now?
G: I have no idea what is going on there now. There was one difficulty — every 6 months they used to ask for a new internet banking password. Earlier I used to change it, but now I have stopped using that account altogether. I have a cousin who worked in another branch of the bank so after college I transferred that account there, but after that nothing really.
- He opened his third account with HDFC Bank and this is currently his primary account —
S: When did you open your third bank account?
G: My office opened an HDFC account for me when I started working. It is still my salary account (after transferring jobs).
S: How do you manage this account now?
G: I have never visited my branch. I’m not sure exactly where the branch is either. I talk to my relationship manager there often (by phone), she handles everything for me.
- He has an additional account with Bank of Baroda, which he opened to secure his car loan —
S: Do you have any other bank accounts?
G: I have a loan account with the Bank of Baroda. When I took a loan to buy my car, I took it from a National Bank so I could pre-close it, if you take it from a Private Bank it requires additional charge to pre-close, in the case of a government bank there is no additional charge. They made me open a savings account when I took the loan. The loan account is linked to the bank account.
S: How do you manage this account?
G: That account is like a Wallet for me, I transfer a fixed amount in it every month. It is automatically deducted — I check on it occasionally to make sure things are happening smoothly.
Gagan manages and interacts with his 3 active accounts through a variety of interfaces —
Gagan is comfortable with multiple modes of making payments —
- He actively uses his debit & credit cards affiliated with his primary bank account (HDFC). Although he doesn’t use his SBI debit card actively, he keeps it with him in case of emergencies.
- He uses his debit card (HDFC) once or twice a month exclusively for cash withdrawals
- He uses cash sparingly, only in situations where it is absolutely essential to do so.
- He prefers transacting via cashless channels — Digital Wallet (Paytm) & UPI Apps (Google Pay & PhonePe) for relatively small transactions (Bill payments, Groceries etc.) and his credit card for larger transactions (eCommerce, Petrol etc.).
- NetBanking was his first touchpoint with online Banking and he still uses it on Web and Mobile for specific activities like transferring his rent (SBI, web) and managing his loan account (Bank of Baroda, Mobile).
Some of his payment activities are based more on acquired habits as opposed to convenience —
S: How do you pay your Rent?
G: I use SBI NetBanking because my owner has an account there (SBI) and it allows instant account to account transfer so I pay the rent on that.
S: Why don’t you use UPI?
G: My owner does not have UPI. Also, I find the process too hectic. I also use NetBanking so that I remember my password, because I forget these things easily.
Payment Apps: Usage
- Gagan was an early adopter of Payment Apps. His familiarity with NetBanking made the transition to these applications a relatively smooth one, recognising their benefits immediately. External factors like Demonetisation and peer influence served to accelerate this process.
- His usage journey started with the Paytm Wallet but he is doubtful that he would have adopted UPI apps as well, had it not been for the offers and cash backs they provided —
S: How long have you been using Payment Apps?
G: I have been using them for 3 years. When Demonetisation happened I visited the ATM just once and used Paytm for everything. I have been using UPI since it started in 2017.
S: How did you learn about these apps?
G: Because of advertisements and their popularity and acceptance — a lot of shopkeepers started accepting payments through them. I started using Google Pay when I used to go out with my colleagues to eat and they pushed me to use it— there were a lot of offers on Google Pay too, at that time.
S: If these offers weren’t there, would you have started using these apps?
G: It would have been difficult.
- Although he started with Google Pay and uses PhonePe as well (which also has a Digital Wallet), the Paytm Wallet is his most preferred app for making payments —
S: Which App do you use most often?
G: Even now I prefer using the Paytm wallet. I can keep a track in my mind — when I put Rs 1000 in there I know how long it will last. I don’t have to think too hard about it. And also there is no PIN. In case of UPI, I cannot keep track of how much money is going from my bank account. Between Google Pay and PhonePe I prefer using PhonePe. The thing is on Google Pay, if I don’t use it for a month or something, I need to link my account again — now that has its own process which I find hectic sometimes.
Payment Apps: Security
Gagan has a reasonable working knowledge, albeit slightly imprecise conceptual model of how UPI based payment apps function—
S: Do you have an idea of how UPI works?
G: BHIM app is a verified govt app. When I transact from PhonePe or GooglePay it goes through their interface and BHIM, which is a govt. authority or whatever gives the permission. From there it takes the money from my bank account.
S: Are you familiar with the terms UPI and VPA?
G: I don’t know about VPA. I don’t remember the full form of UPI.
S: How many UPI id’s do you have?
G: I have one UPI id, I think it was made on BHIM — it was my number@UPI, I give that to everyone. I think that is actually linked to my SBI (Secondary account), so when anyone transfers money, that’s where it goes. If anyone wants to transfer money on GooglePay or PhonePe, my both accounts are linked but I guess when people transfer it is to the primary (HDFC) as far as I know.
S: So you have the same UPI id on all apps?
G: No they are all different but I only remember one.
His conceptual model for the working of UPI as well his awareness of brand value of its corresponding apps enables him to have a reasonable level of trust when it comes to using them, despite having faced issues with their use —
S: Do you feel secure sharing your personal information on payment apps?
G: Yes I guess it is all encrypted, so I have no problem with sharing it. And it is UPI I’m giving my information to, its going to Google in encrypted form through BHIM as far as I know.
S: Have you had any trouble using these applications?
G: Paytm money has some issue taking UPI payments. I don’t know what it is. I can’t understand it. That is why I didn’t use UPI and went with NetBanking for this.
S: Have you transferred money to someone who hasn’t received it?
G: Once I paid at a shop and the money went from my account but they didn’t get it. So I kept in touch with the shop owner, I asked him to confirm if he received the payment (he eventually did). I knew the money would either come back or eventually get deposited to his account.
S: Do you have a limit on the size of payments you make on this app?
G: No. I made the highest transfer when I had bought my car — I transferred 1 lakh from my SBI (secondary account) to my HDFC (primary) account. When I bought my laptop I also transferred Rs 75,000.
Financial Products: Investments
As mentioned earlier (Expenses), Gagan invests 20–30% of his monthly income. Saving on his taxes was the initial nudge that started his investment journey. He consults friends, colleagues, does online research and after trying several online platforms, he now uses Paytm Money exclusively to manage his investments —
S: What is your investment strategy?
G: I wanted to do some tax savings. So I had 3–4 options. I put my money in PPF and Mutual Funds. It’s been a little more than a year — I started in December 2018. Now I am working on diversifying my portfolio.
S: Do you consult anyone before making these investments?
G: I consulted a few friends, a few colleagues as well. One of my colleagues used to keep investing his money, I used to see him looking at something or the other on his phone and talking about his investments. I spoke to him and felt I could take his opinion. I have another friend from college who is working at a bank — I spoke with him as well. I also asked another friend of mine who puts money in the stock market. It was a tough decision, so I talked to 4–5 people. All these 4–5 people asked me to start with tax saving funds, come to equity and debit after that.
S: Do you research your investment options in other ways?
G: Initially I went and read about them from websites like CRISIL and Morningstar. There are these youtubers — Pranjal Kamra and Bhatia Uncle, I saw their videos and understood a few things. I also read about them because there are so many youtubers — tomorrow even I can sit and start giving advice, but I saw these guys had a good record and knowledge so I checked them out. Then I downloaded some mobile applications — I started with ET Money and also tried Goalwise, Zerodha, Paytm Money and Kuvera. I had also looked on Cleartax, but ultimately I used to follow three websites — Crisil, Morningstar and one more — the combination of these I found in Paytm Money, so I started investing from there and now this is the only one I use.
Financial Products: Loans
Gagan has taken a single loan so far, to purchase his first car. As mentioned earlier (Banking), he took it from a National Bank so he could pre-close it without any surcharge.
S: How did you decide on taking the loan?
G: I discussed it with a colleague at office — he was a senior and had taken a loan before so I consulted him first. He said I could improve my CIBIL score so if I need to take say a house loan in the future, it would be easier for me. Credit card is one thing, but they also want to see how much time you have taken to pay back a bigger loan. The car showroom gave me the option to take this loan.
S: What are the terms of your loan?
G: It is a 3 year loan at 9–10% interest
S: What is your repayment plan?
G: I’m going to pay it off early — maybe within the next 5–6 months. Although the repayment plan is around Rs 10,000/month, it is flexible — If I have a lump sum of say Rs 50,000 I can drop them a mail saying, ‘Please debit Rs 50,000 this month for my current EMI, instead of Rs 10,000.’
S: How do you transfer your payments?
G: My Bank of Baroda account is for the loan only, I transfer the amount in it every month by UPI from my salary account. I check the balance in the Baroda account on their mobile app which I have downloaded.
Financial Products: Insurance
Gagan has subscribed to 2 Health insurance plans — a basic one he has taken out himself and a more comprehensive one provided by his employer —
S: Why do you have 2 Health insurance plans?
G: When I was starting my post graduation, it was mandatory for us to have health insurance. I consulted a friend and got this — it is fairly basic but it covers the critical diseases. Now the office also gives, but I have still kept this going.
Gagan’s choice of phone reflects his ambition and lifestyle —
S: How did you select the phone that you are using now?
G: I had heard of iPhones — let us call it a desire of the heart. I had the money to buy one, so I did.
Gagan has a number of aspirations — he wants to get a taste of the experience of living and working abroad, nudged by his family, he is also thinking about getting married and settling down and amongst other things he also dreams of owning a Mercedes Benz one day. At present, his focus is primarily on his career and financial growth, while he plans for what lies ahead —
S: Do you have any events or goals you are planning for in the immediate future?
G: I want to have 2, 5 and 10 year goals. I haven’t though about it that much yet, but I’m working on it.
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.
Psst! We are looking for collaborators and contributors to D91 labs. If you are interested, please drop your details here, and we will reach out to you.