Sabina Kamal

Transforming India's Loyalty Landscape Through Innovation

Sabina Kamal

COO & Chief Digital Officer

Paytm m’Loyal - MobiQuest

Step into the captivating world of Sabina Kamal, a true maestro in the interactive media and eLearning industries. A young, aspiring artist, a Fine Arts gold medalist and university topper from AMU University, takes her first steps into the professional arena in 1992 with Nirula’s Corner House Private Limited. As a visualizer, Sabina’s artistic prowess contributed to the company’s marketing and advertising endeavours, but her journey was destined for a fascinating twist.
In 1997, Sabina embarked on a transformative journey, transitioning from traditional brushes to digital mastery. An opportunity with an MNC in telecom, guided by visionary Dr. Gopi, introduced her to network programming and a monumental online marketplace project, redefining her career. Crafting Telegraph India’s first website posed challenges due to nascent web development tools, but their innovative approach earned acclaim. Sabina’s journey continued with the co-pioneering of’m’Loyal,’ India’s revolutionary mobile loyalty marketing platform with 90+ million users. She ventured further, establishing BrandQuiver, WPP/Times Internet’s inaugural online ad agency, and managing India’s largest Ice Cream Birthday Club. Her influence expanded into eLearning and digital consulting, leading teams of 150+ professionals.
Sabina’s corporate impact extended to creating ‘Digital Centres of Excellence’ for Fortune 500 giants and producing thousands of hours of multilingual eLearning content. Driven by an enduring vision, she aims to leave a digital legacy fostering intelligence and a nation thirsting for knowledge, wisdom, deep reflection, and responsible action. Her journey is one of mentorship, professional evolution, and inspirational transformations. Join us for a deeper dive into her remarkable odyssey. 

What drove your shift from marketing to network programming, and how did this journey influence your career?

My transition from marketing to network programming was serendipitous. During a programming interview, I expressed admiration for companies like Walt Disney and Microsoft, sparking a pivotal question: did I want to join them or build one myself? Inspired by this, I embraced the unknown, joining the company and later establishing their eLearning and digital consulting practices. This venture grew into a 150+ strong team, setting up Centres of Excellence for global giants like Domino’s, Best Buy, and Canon APAC and Europe. Our work spanned learning management systems, content management systems, and eLearning courseware. Notably, my experience with Best Buy emphasised usercentric design and catering to consumer preferences, exposing me to diverse teams and refining my skills in application curation and design.

Can you describe the challenges you encountered while establishing India's first multi-award-winning mobile loyalty marketing platform?

Our journey with m’Loyal started in 2008, recognising a unique opportunity in India’s loyalty landscape. Loyalty programmes were traditionally limited to airlines, major hotels, and large retailers due to their complexity and cost. These programmes operated in isolation, lacking access to critical marketing data. Our breakthrough idea was to tag each bill with a mobile number, providing deep insights into consumer behaviour at the SKU level. Initially met with scepticism, as many believed such technology had to come from outside India, we persisted. We educated retailers on the transformative power of data insights, simplified complexity, and proved that innovation has no boundaries.

What is your perspective on data privacy and cybersecurity concerns, particularly in light of recent legislation?

Data privacy and cybersecurity are paramount in the digital age, and we’ve taken them seriously from the start. Each loyalty programme is compartmentalised for data separation and security. We’ve engaged top auditors like PwC for rigorous system audits and established strong client agreements for data protection. Recent legislation reinforces the importance of data security, and we’re unwavering in our commitment to upholding the highest standards. Our dedication to safeguarding customer data evolves with advancing technology.

Can you share a specific failure or challenge from your entrepreneurial journey that taught you valuable lessons?

In my entrepreneurial journey, a valuable lesson emerged from a challenging project. We aimed to create a unified loyalty programme for a diverse medical group with multiple businesses. Despite complexities like distinct profit and loss accounts and reconciling loyalty points, the project didn’t fail outright. However, it underscored the importance of making bold decisions as an entrepreneur. Sometimes, you must stick to your vision and principles, even if it means parting ways with a valuable customer when a workable solution isn’t possible. Staying committed to your business’s vision remains crucial.

Are there any causes or initiatives you are passionate about?

I am deeply passionate about several causes and initiatives. Foremost, I am dedicated to empowering women, particularly in STEM fields, to achieve financial independence through education and skill development. Additionally, I am committed to addressing socioeconomic disparities and promoting equal opportunities by leveraging technology to empower individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, focusing on initiatives that drive growth and create meaningful opportunities.

What advice would you give to young professionals who have a strong passion for creativity and technology?

Embrace your unique skill set and remain open to endless possibilities. Regardless of your industry or domain, harness the power of your imagination to develop innovative solutions to substantial challenges. Your ability to simplify complexity is an asset, so wholeheartedly embrace innovation to shape a brighter future, not only for yourself but also for your community and the world at large. Recognise that technology can be a potent tool for positive change, and your creativity holds the potential to drive significant advancements.

In hindsight, would you have made any different choices in your career?

Reflecting on my career, I regret not handling bias in fundraising differently. An investor’s discouraging comments about women in business affected me deeply, causing me to step back from such events temporarily. In hindsight, I wish I had used it as motivation to build a successful business that would attract investors. My advice, especially to women entrepreneurs, is to maintain unwavering belief in your abilities and vision, not letting bias or stereotypes deter you, but using challenges as motivation to achieve your goals.

What do you think will be the impact of your digital legacy on the future of customer loyalty in India?

I believe my digital legacy will profoundly impact customer loyalty in India by fostering personalisation and meaningful engagement. Through innovative loyalty solutions, we can empower individuals and businesses, bridging socioeconomic gaps and shaping the future of loyalty programmes for the better.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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