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Price Waterhouse Coopers Looks to E-Commerce in India

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) Thursday said that e-commerce, particularly the use of technology for trading, is a serious area of concern for the company's plans in India.

"The disintermediation process brought about by the Internet raises basic questions as to what the existing players ought to do to survive and thrive," according to PWC partner European Financial Services spokesperson Arun Aggarwal.

The trend towards consolidation will continue as the global marketplace integrates into a single market until there are only a few major global players left, he added.

"In comparison to other industries, the financial services industry is still in many regards very fragmented and with the commoditisation of markets, scale will become key," said Aggarwal.

According to Aggarwal, scale is also needed because the reduction in margins and intensifying competition necessitates increasing investments in technology. He says this is because the era in which product innovations drive profits is coming to an end, and economies of scale and service levels will drive profits in the future.

Towards this end, Price Waterhouse Coopers aims to make India the outsourcing base for back-office processing of bank services in the U.K. and France. Aggarwal believes that the back-office processes of both investment banks as well as other financial service providers could be sourced from India.

Aggarwal said that PWC has already spoken to banks which were interested in the proposal.

Aggarwal, who is in charge of the capital markets practice for the Europe, Middle East and African regions, said that within the capital markets practice, strategic mergers and acquisitions is one of the key areas.

PWC is currently working on a number of such large post-merger situations. Aggarwal cites the back-office system as another area where great amounts of rationalization, streamlining and cost reduction are needed.

PWC itself runs a large back-office processing division which has so far been concentrating on running the company's finance function for multinational concerns, but is increasingly extending to business process outsourcing.