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Our Editorial Associate Ayanangsha Maitra in conversation with Pradeep Lankapalli,  South Asia MD, Thomson Reuters 

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GST: Opportunities and Challenges

Our Editorial Associate Ayanangsha Maitra in conversation with Pradeep Lankapalli,  South Asia MD, Thomson Reuters 

The CEO Magazine: GST is all set to become a law in India. What are the key opportunities and challenges for India Inc? 

Pradeep Lankapalli: GST is arguably the most ambitious and biggest economic reform our country has witnessed since liberalization. It will subsume various central and state indirect taxes, boost compliance and curb tax evasion. This tax reform promises to facilitate ease of doing business in India and most economists predict, the Indian economy will get a boost from the GST.  However, the implementation of this new tax regime will be quite challenging, considering the size, complexity and diversirty of our economy.

TCM:Do you think India Inc is well prepared to be GST complaint? Are there any gaps?

Pradeep Lankapalli:While the government signals roll out of GST from April 01, 2017, adequate preparedness in terms of infrastructure and tax technology remains a key challange. Countries such as Malaysia have taken as long as 18 months to complete GST implementation. Indian corporations will require robust and comprehensive tax technology solutions that will streamline their tax requirements, including compliance, determination filings, management and reporting.

TCM: Thomson Reuters has a big play in Fintech. What are the opportunities you see in that space?

Pradeep Lankapalli:We have a unique perspective on FinTech: We know that this sector is not new. In 1851, Paul Julius Reuter saw the potential of technological development and started his financial information business – a FinTech start-up for the Victorian Age. The history of our company is a history of innovation and of rapid, accurate communication, whether that is by carrier pigeon, transatlantic cable or high-speed fibre network. We have more than 160 years of experience in this. In fact, we consider ourselves as the world’s oldest fintech company!

We continue to enable innovators, providing them with the means to build their businesses alongside our financial platforms. Earlier this year, we introduced Eikon App Studio that enables users to create apps bringing together Eikon’s leading news, market data and analytical tools with proprietary research and other third-party data.

TCM: Are you investing in FinTech companies? Which are the specific industriesyousee valuein?

Pradeep Lankapalli:We are engaging with a variety of start ups and technology companies. We recently launched a program called FinTech Innovation Challenge, to engage of relevant start-ups in the areas of banking technology, foreign exchange markets, and investment technology and insurance markets among others.

Through this unique initiative, innovative start-ups and technology companies with our open platform, Eikon App Studio, can leverage our proprietary data and create transformative applications thereby changing the way of doing business and serving customers. The aim of this program is to draw on open technologies to eliminate the barriers to efficient, collaborative workflows in the financial industry and help financial professionals generate fresh business ideas, respond rapidly to market changes and deliver new tools and services for our clients.

At the end of this program, the chosen winners will be on-boarded on to Eikon App Studio, which will provide the platform for global growth. They will not only have access to our content and datasets, they also have access to ~500,000 finance professionals across the globe, and this provides them an incredible distribution network. 

TCM: Both banking and Fintech companies today are poised to grow exponentially. What are your thoughts on this? Are there any specific risks you anticipate? 

Pradeep Lankapalli: It is absolutely correct to say that banking as well as Fintech companies have an extremely bright future ahead, particularly with the government taking strong steps to promote cashless transactions as well as financial inclusion. However, with growing user base both industries will increasingly be exposed to risks of fraud, money laundering, data theft, to name a few. 

TCM: Are there any mechanisms in place to counter these risks?

Pradeep Lankapalli: The industry is witnessing significant structural reforms and regulatory changes, which will impact how business is conducted.  While the government and regulators are setting up the right framework, it is key for financial institutions and corporations to continue to focus on corporate governance and review risks in their financial transactions and supply chains.

TCM: What are Thomson Reuters key focus areas for the coming future? 

Pradeep Lankapalli: At Thomson Reuters, we pride ourselves as The Answer Company. It is our constant endeavour to create solutions which help our customers take important business decisions. Indian economy is at a very interesting juncture. We are investing significantly into our India business. This includes renewed focus on our current core financial markets solutions, and also in helping non financial corporations in their GST technology, risk, regulatory and trade compliance.

[The interview appeared in Companies of the Year, November Issue in 2016]

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