"Payments is not a subsidiary game anymore, it’s a revenue game"

The Techcircle Payments Forum 2015 held in Mumbai on May 14 saw a packed house of well over 250 participants spanning leading payment service providers, aggregators, emerging digital payment businesses and marquee private investors besides a host of emerging startups.

Speakers shared their experiences and views on the roadmap for digital payments in India, the key drivers in this space, mobile wallets and its potential in India, cash on delivery vs digital payments, opportunities in carrier billing and a few others. The day-long forum started with a plenary session on roadmap for digital payments and then went into different payment themes at length.

The first panel shed light on not just being a service provider but also being sensitive to the customers needs and providing a service that one can use.

India v/s Bharat

The bifurcation between India (people living in metros/towns) v/s Bharat (people living in rural parts of India) addressed the important issue of altering services for its audience to ensure complete customer satisfaction. “Payments is divided into India and Bharat, we need to come up with services to provide for both of these segments, said T R Ramachandran, group country manager, India and South Asia of VISA. 

Adding to this Sohini Rajola, SVP & head electronic banking of Axis Bank, said, “We need to come up with similar products but we have to come up with a different way to make it available for people in rural areas as the needs and requirements are different.”

COD here to stay

The consumer internet businesses have lived on COD. As COD remains an important mode of payment for large horizontal e-commerce players the conference focused upon the concept of cash on delivery and its effect and way ahead. 

India as a county is comfortable with cash, the panelists felt COD is the only way to ease the Indian consumers into e-commerce and this is the only way evolution in this space will take place.

“Having COD is very important to make people comfortable with e-commerce and will stay for a few years, said Rahul Chandra, MD of Helion Advisors Pvt Ltd. Adding to this Abhishek Sinha, co-founder and CEO, Eko India Financial Services Pvt Ltd said, "The supply chain of cash is complicated and expensive, it works on a hyper-local manner and is a tough supply chain to manage.” It concluded by saying as an industry it has to work harder to figure out how to make it simpler for consumers so that they choose online transactions and not COD.

Payment Banks

Payment banks have been the latest phenomena with leading telecom players, large Indian conglomerates, mobile wallet companies and other emerging payment firms. With an objective of achieving the last mile connectivity and offer banking services to the unbanked populations panelists deliberated on the advantages on payments banks.

Payment banks with its daily collection process have innovated this space which will help this segment grow exponentially. Payments is not a subsidiary game anymore, it is a revenue game, said Paresh Rajde, founder and chairman, Suvidhaa Infoserve. 

However, payment banks continue to face challenges in terms of trust and geographical expectation. To overcome these challenges payment banks need to come up with more touch points, more the touch points, more the convenience to the customer and more the acceptance. 

Also, it needs to provide services as per every geography, what would work in a metro city might not work in a tier III city. “We have a few challenges but we can overcome them, we need to work towards them diligently and the evolution will happen,” said Rajde.

Techcircle also saw three promising startups showcasing their solutions. The jury for the session consisted of Sumit Dhanuka of Ncubate Capital Partners and Hari Krishna of A-star Ventures. 

The three startups included Swipez, a startup that offers a billing and payments platform. Using Swipez businesses with or without their own websites can manage, collect and report payments made electronically or offline.

Kyash, an aggregator of payment networks across India, enables any business to collect cash payments remotely. Zebpay is a startup that offers mobile bitcoin wallets and allows users to send and receive bitcoins by using mobile numbers, it works just like instant messaging.

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