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An Interview with
MILIND LABHE
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
MOVI

Movi is one of the leading Fintech organizations in Vietnam with a rich legacy. The company (Mobivi) started in 2007 as a digital payments company. In 2013 it was rebranded as iCare Benefits, which became a very popular brand in Vietnam. We created employee benefit program for the blue collared workers in the factories across Vietnam. In 2019 it was rebranded as Movi due to change in the ownership.

Our aim is to bring affordable financial services to our customers and help them realize their dreams using balanced financial solutions that Movi provides.

Movi wants to be leader in the financial services space, focusing on the segment where customers are not served or underserved by the large banks or financial institutions. We want to create a niche space for our Company in the market through our customer friendly products & services.

Publish Date: 
3 August 2021
Executive Interview
   Executive Interviews   

Tell us about your background, and what are you most passionate about?

I have been in banking & finance industry for over 2 decades. I was fortunate to start my banking career with one of the best banking organizations, HDFC Bank when they were launching their consumer banking business. After that I worked with some other leading brands like IDFC FIRST Bank, Fullerton Financial, FSS etc.

My specialization has been in retail banking, more specifically in digital banking, digital payments, and customer experience. For me digital banking started 20 years back, when we introduced products like virtual cards, payment gateways, net-banking etc in early 2000. In these 20 years I worked in different geographies like India, UAE and Vietnam.

I enjoy working with start-up organizations. I joined most of the organizations when they were launching their businesses. I love the process of creating something from the ground-up. Working with start-ups is stimulating, challenging and helps you understand and learn the various aspects of Business Management.

My passion is about learning new things, especially in the digital payments, digital lending & customer experience space.

Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?

Like for most of us, the last two years have been difficult. I left a good job in India and joined my current organization in Vietnam. It was a  exciting opportunity as we wanted to create one of the best financial institutions in the region. I was hired to lead the digital transformation from the technology standpoint. We started well but then  got derailed because of the Pandemic  early 2020 and that created a lot of challenges for us. We had to change our business strategy and had to put some new initiatives on hold.

We continued to focus on our core business and created products & services that were relevant for our customer segment. Launched multiple CSR programs to support our customers in these tough times, introduced financial literacy program. We did some interesting digital marketing campaigns to reach out to our customers. We are optimistic that our handwork will pay off and will see fruits of our handwork in the next couple of quarters.

How would others define your communication style? Do you prefer to be close to your employees or maintain a healthy distance, and why?

In the past 20 years I don’t remember getting any feedback (negative or positive) about my communication. I guess others are fine with my communication style 😊

I personally feel my communication style is assertive and direct. I keep my communication clear and to the point.

I maintain a friendly & open relationship with my employees. I give them necessary space & freedom. I empower them so that they can take decisions and back them if some of their decisions go wrong. I trust them and I expect the same from them. This style always worked for me and I always remained friends with most of my ex colleagues even after leaving those organizations.

How has the industry been changing in recent years? What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years?

The banking & finance industry has changed a lot in the past few years, especially in the last 2 years mainly due to Covid-19. Digitization, remote working (WFH), cloud computing, business continuity planning,  cybersecurity etc have become top priority items. Most of the traditional banks are getting into digital banking. We have seen an exponential growth in digital payments and on-line transactions. Banks & FIs don’t see Fintechs as competition anymore. We are seeing collaboration, which is helping the end customer.

I do not have a crystal ball to predict what will happen in next five years, but I don’t see any major challenges for Fintech industry in the next 5 years as long as they keep evolving. They need to be innovative and come up with solutions that will help consumers. They have to stop working in silos and believe in collaboration.

What personality traits make a good leader?

According to me the following traits are important to be a good leader.

  1. Ability to take tough decisions & stand by them. This is very important in today’s uncertain times.

  2. Lead by example

  3. A team player. Must show confidence in team and back them

  4. Clear vision about business. Must know what’s happening in the business, the challenges and a clear vision for the future

  5. Transparency, Openness & Honesty

  6. An effective communicator

  7. Fostering creativity & innovation

What does the future hold for your company?

Like all other businesses we are also going through a difficult time. We hope that things will change for good very soon.

We see a huge potential for our organization when things get back to normal. We serve the people who are unbanked or underbanked. A large section of Vietnam population is unbanked. They do not have access to credit. The understanding and awareness about financial services is missing. We want to help this customer segment. We want to provide quality financial services through our products and services that are built for them through our innovative, user-friendly and safe distribution channels. We want to be a brand they can trust.

We want to be one of the leaders in this space in the next 2-3 years.

Contact

MILIND LABHE

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