Payment gateways, e-wallets, banks, microlenders… the list of fintech players in India goes on and on. It’s an exciting time and something new seems to happen every day. Here’s our weekly roundup of what’s happening in this fast-moving space.
ATMs that use fingerprints
A bank in Mumbai now lets people withdraw money with just a fingerprint. DCB Bank on Sunday launched an ATM that uses biometrics to authenticate people.
It’s powered by the Aadhar database, which is a project launched by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) that hopes to collect the biometric information of every single person in India.
As of March 31, 999 million people have signed up for an Aadhar number. The government promises that Aadhar will never be mandatory, but it’s rolled out plenty of reasons to sign up for it, including scholarships and subsidies on utilities.
DCB claims to be the first bank in India to do something like this. It’s a small-sized lender, which means that it works primarily with small and medium-business and individuals. Once fingerprint technology is set up, it requires minimal documentation, which is why it’s ideally suited for the demographic that UIDAI expects will be using Aadhar – non-urban and low-income communities.
Paytm and Freecharge move in opposite directions
Paytm is considered India’s largest e-wallet, and FreeCharge India’s fastest growing one, so there’s always something brewing between the two.
FreeCharge announced a partnership with payment gateway CCAvenue last week. Payment gateways aggregate different payment options – from debit cards to net banking to mobile wallets – and provide them to customers on a single interface.
This new partnership means that FreeCharge will be an option whenever CCAvenue is used to pay for things online. CCAvenue claims to offer over 300 different payment options.
Govind Rajan, COO of FreeCharge, explained his reasoning simply in a statement: “We want to make FreeCharge wallet ubiquitous in both the online and offline space by creating an ecosystem of partnership.”
What Govind means is, the more the merrier – having more payment options does not necessarily correlate to less customers for FreeCharge.
This is the exact opposite of what Paytm announced a few days earlier. It’s shutting down all affiliations with payment gateways – including CCAvenue – which means that any transaction that involves the mobile wallet will have to be done on Paytm’s own platform.
Kiran Vasi Reddy, senior VP at Paytm, was quoted saying that the move was made to “…improve the overall user experience and success rates for merchants because they will be using a customized integrated system.”
Paytm’s strategy seems to involve getting users hooked to using its app by making sure it’s the only option from beginning to end – a contrast with the FreeCharge move.
Flipkart moves in on mobile wallets
Flipkart announced its acquisition of PhonePe, a payment startup that operates on the UPI.
The UPI is a tech platform proposed by the NPCI, the country’s retail payments arm, which lets banks transfer money to other banks and mobile wallets with just a few identifiers. These identifiers include phone numbers and Aadhar numbers. PhonePe hasn’t officially launched yet, and UPI should launch sometime this month.
In some ways, that’s a blow to mobile wallets, many of which came up as answers to banking inefficiencies. Flipkart launched its own mobile wallet, Flipkart Money, a month earlier – its second one after it shut down PayZippy – but word on the street is that it hasn’t had much traction.
With Aadhar reaching nearly a billion users, and money transfer between banks becoming easier than ever before, it’s smart to innovate on the UPI. The UPI means that a large part of India’s population can continue keeping their money in banks. Mobile wallets also hold much less money than bank accounts.
Those who run mobile wallets do claim to have some advantages though, like the ability to change fast, be more intuitive for users, and ensure high security.
Nobody has taken the lead in getting the millions in India who still pay with cash online, so it’s anyone’s game.
Limit on ATM use may help get India off of cash
The government is considering limiting ATM reloads after 8PM.
It claims that it’s doing this for safety issues. In Kenya, startups like M-PESA have gained popularity because they’re so much safer to use than carrying cash around. M-PESA lets individuals transfer, hold, and lend money.