You have just entered the Indian market with a joint-venture company. How do you rate your chances of success there?
We won't be looking at credit cards for a while. Initially, we will be offering consumer financial loans or what are called non-banking financial services—like installment loans and revolving lines of credit. And when the insurance sector opens up, we will certainly want to go in there as well.
To what extent will your marketing strategy and approach in India differ from those you have so successfully employed so far in the US?
Even as we speak, our office in Bombay is conducting market research to find out what will appeal most to the Indian client. Our approach in India will be our usual one, driven by behavioural studies of consumers. Another thing we will definitely examine is popular opinions and beliefs versus actual behaviour. For example, it is a commonly-held belief that Indians don't like to borrow. But we will examine whether in reality, Indians behave like that. We will also look at affordability levels and work out the most efficient payment systems.
To what extent does the current nebulousness of the political landscape in India faze you?
Some of our top directors have expressed doubts, in view of the ongoing rhetoric there. But I keep pointing out that a lot of our present political leaders (in India) still carry the memory of British colonial rule. Their fear of liberalisation—that India will be ruthlessly exploited—stems largely from that memory. This is the reason why we, like many other American companies, are going in a much smaller way than we might have done. We are being cautious so that our capital does not get stuck in India.
How can you—an American now, with a jetsetting lifestyle—be so confident of...