For the past many months, I’ve come to rely on Ola and Uber cabs for my commute within the city. As all of you must have experienced, in the course of a long commute, we invariably end up talking with the cab drivers. You could talk to them about almost anything under the sun. All of them have an opinion to share and an interesting perspective of the world since they meet and converse with so many different types of people during their journeys.
The one difference I noticed between Ola/Uber car drivers and their yellow-black cab brethren was the overall optimism and positive vibe you got from these smart-cab drivers. This stood our for me almost every time I spoke to any of them. The Uber/Ola driver would always talk with hope about their future and the plans they have for their families and kids.
I could think of many reasons of for this particular disposition they had: from having a more secure source of income to having the backing of cash-rich companies to dealing with mainly white-collared executives to being involved in a very digital, new-age set-up and so on. They also had a comparatively better experience with their passengers and owners.
Since I’m always curious about how people invest, I veer the conversation towards their investing habits. I found that although most of them were earning well and sounded savvy about money, they still had old-school habits about investing. A few still took loans from local money lenders at exorbitant rates; they couldn’t differentiate between monthly/annual interest rates; many hadn’t heard about PPF or mutual funds, and so on. The one positive part was that most of them were aware of life and medical insurance and many had even got their insurance done.
But for me, the surprising part of the conversations would happen when I suggest corrective measures on their investing habits. I would half expect them to ignore what I say, or not understand, since it would be something entirely new for them. But no, almost everyone I spoke to would want to know more about what they hear. Some of them would be so interested, they would immediately take notes – sometimes even stopping a few extra seconds at the traffic lights to get it correct. They keep asking you the right questions and there is a huge desire in them to know more about the subject.
From my experiences, I feel there is a huge need for a financial literacy campaign that’s aimed at the labour class that includes drivers, maids, security guards, etc. Most of them are hard-working, honest people trying their best to give a better future to their families, especially their children. Either their owners – Uber/Ola and so on should take the initiative or an institution like SEBI, RBI or a private player should look into this need. There’s an audience out there that is eager and waiting to learn. Someone has to just take the initiative.