Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

Cash Is Culture in India, but It’s Not Going to Be the Future

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Cash is not just the norm but also embedded in culture
  • New systems like mPOS terminals are making digital more convenient
  • Apps like BHIM help bring payments from India to Bharat as a whole

In India, cash is culture. It’s everywhere, inspiring Hindi film songs, being doled out by loving grandparents, occupying a key role in religious rituals, and even fuelling a parallel economy. So resistance to any alternative method of payment is only to be expected.

This is amply evident from the way digital transactions, which had spiked from 672 million in November 2016 to 958 million in December 2016 because of demonetisation, plummeted to 763 million (February 2017) once the new currency came back in circulation, as per RBI data. The latest numbers show some growth, but it’s a far cry from the peak in December even now.

It’s a challenge that Digital India is up for. Driving the shift from cash to digital payments are a host of factors – a huge population of young, aspiring people embracing the digital lifestyle, the “India Stack” of four technology layers (presenceless, paperless, cashless, consent), and a robust real-time payments infrastructure in which the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is the crown jewel. But beyond doubt, policies such as banning the use of cash for transactions amounting to Rs. 200,000 or more are also making an impact. In his budget speech this year, the Minister of Finance announced a mission tasked with achieving 25 billion digital transactions in the year 2017-18 through various means including Aadhaar Pay, UPI, USSD, IMPS, and debit cards.

payment systems

That’s a tall order for an economy where 98 percent of consumer payments are still made in cash. Before this can happen though, several barriers lie in the way. The “cash habit” is at the top of the list, followed by the complexity of using digital payment methods.

Cash is easy
The second factor is telling. A huge reason why cash still rules as a medium of exchange is that it is simple and convenient. Digital payment mechanisms, which might be convenient in some ways – (they save a trip to the bank and are easy to carry around) – are actually less convenient at the point of use. To understand this, visualise the process of using a mobile wallet – log in, authenticate yourself, scan code, enter amount, authorise payment – and now compare it to the ease of handing out cash.

Currently, there is friction on both sides of the digital payment transaction. The abundance of payment options with their different POS hardware and procedures is confusing merchants, who don’t know where to draw the line. This isn’t making life simpler for consumers either.

Clearly, digital payments must become frictionless before they can find mass acceptance.

mpos machine eze

Technology and innovation can do much to facilitate that. For instance, Ezetap has introduced a mobile-based payments acceptance device that merchants can use for all types of digital payments. Another good example is Tonetag, one of our partner firms, which has found an alternative solution to NFC technology with a communication mechanism that uses sound waves. Merchants can even accept cards in much the same way as before; customers need to authorise the payment like they do with NFC, with a swipe, password or OTP.

Ezetap, Tonetag, and others like them reduce the friction in payments, but they don’t eliminate it altogether. Some other forces need to come together to make digital payments as convenient as cash.

Bharat, and not just India
One of these is the digitisation of low-income consumers, which received a shot in the arm when the BHIM app was launched a couple of months after demonetisation with the goal of enabling those with a bank account but no cards, to make digital payments. Another factor is the growth of e-commerce players, who, by accepting card or wallet payments on delivery, have eased even reluctant cash customers into digital payments. The next level of e-commerce, namely smart commerce, will drive digital payments even higher, using AI and analytics to spur consumption.

bhim full

To see what that looks like, you need only look to Amazon, which has mastered the use of consumer analytics to anticipate needs, personalise recommendations, or simply remind customers of something they had shown interest in.

These forces are still brewing at present. When they take firm hold, India will make more meaningful progress towards digital payments. While the timeline for that is uncertain, once the conditions fall into place, the shift from cash to digital will be swift and irreversible.

Venkatramana Gosavi is Senior Vice President and Regional Head, Infosys Finacle, and has been working with Finacle for over 15 years now.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Going Mobile: Does Your Small Business Need an App?

Mobile is the new digital frontier for any business looking to succeed. With more smartphones than people in the United States, and a greater percentage of your customers searching for businesses like yours on mobile devices, you can’t afford not to have a presence that’s optimized for mobile. But do you need a dedicated app for your small business?

When it comes to mobile, most businesses offer a mobile website, a mobile app, or both. It’s important to understand the difference between a website that’s optimized for mobile and a mobile app, so you can make an informed decision about which is the best option for increasing your company’s mobile presence.

Mobile Websites Are…

Just like a regular website, a mobile website is hosted on the Internet and accessed through a Web browser. Mobile visitors get to your website by clicking on a link on their device (such as from an email or search engine) or typing the address into a mobile browser. The difference is that mobile and mobile-optimized websites are designed for use with smaller screens and touch screens, instead of static desktop or laptop monitors.

Mobile websites are often streamlined and simplified, with clean layouts and responsive design principles. In other words, they’re designed to translate seamlessly between devices, so that visitors have the same experience whether they’re viewing your website on an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Mini. Responsive mobile websites automatically detect a viewer’s device settings and adapt appropriately to the display.

Mobile Apps Are…

Unlike websites, mobile applications (apps) are independent programs. They are downloaded and installed on a mobile device, rather than accessed through a browser. Typically, apps are obtained through an app marketplace like the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Mobile apps can be free or paid, but most companies offer their apps free to consumers in favor of marketing value.

Features of Mobile Websites and Apps

Though mobile optimized websites and mobile apps are not the same thing, they typically offer the same features—especially those that make it easier for mobile device users to find and reach your small business. Some of these common features include:

  • Mobile Marketing: Both mobile sites and apps offer capabilities for email and text-based marketing campaigns, such as loyalty programs and permission-based email lists.
  • Social Sharing: Mobile viewers can easily share content from your app or mobile website with integrated social sharing buttons.
  • Mobile Commerce: More customers are purchasing online and using their mobile devices to shop. Mobile apps and optimized websites allow your visitors to purchase your products or services from their smartphones or tablets.
  • One Click Calling: For those viewing your app or mobile site on a smartphone, this feature lets visitors call your business with a single tap.
  • Click to Map: This feature lets mobile device users tap to locate your business and get instant directions using their devices’ GPS, without having to manually enter your address into a GPS program or website like Google Maps.

So, which mobile solution should your business choose? Below are the advantages of each type of mobile access for your small business.

The Benefits of Mobile Websites

With a mobile optimized website, both PC and mobile device users can easily access and interact with your small business website. A mobile site can include all the features and elements of your regular version, but incorporate a mobile-friendly layout for better functionality and readability from a mobile device.

Mobile websites help you to ensure a seamless experience for all of your visitors, no matter where or when they access your website.

The Benefits of Mobile Apps

Because they are downloaded and installed, dedicated mobile apps can give your business the advantage of greater presence on customer devices. Mobile apps can give you more control, with features such as geo-targeted push notifications that alert device owners when they’re near your business, and data collection capacities that help you personalize your marketing.

In addition, mobile apps are easier to access on devices, and can help to streamline marketing strategies such as text-based loyalty programs and single-platform mobile payments.

Whether you’re developing a mobile website or a mobile app, there are generally two avenues to choose: you can do it yourself with the many tools available for mobile optimized website and mobile app development, or work with a professional developer to create your mobile presence.

The choice of whether to use a mobile site or a mobile app depends on the needs of your particular business, and the amount of emphasis you want to place on mobile marketing.

Businessman Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Going Mobile: Does Your Small Business Need an App?

102714 small biz app

Mobile is the new digital frontier for any business looking to succeed. With more smartphones than people in the United States, and a greater percentage of your customers searching for businesses like yours on mobile devices, you can’t afford not to have a presence that’s optimized for mobile. But do you need a dedicated app for your small business?

When it comes to mobile, most businesses offer a mobile website, a mobile app, or both. It’s important to understand the difference between a website that’s optimized for mobile and a mobile app, so you can make an informed decision about which is the best option for increasing your company’s mobile presence.

Mobile Websites Are…

Just like a regular website, a mobile website is hosted on the Internet and accessed through a Web browser. Mobile visitors get to your website by clicking on a link on their device (such as from an email or search engine) or typing the address into a mobile browser. The difference is that mobile and mobile-optimized websites are designed for use with smaller screens and touch screens, instead of static desktop or laptop monitors.

Mobile websites are often streamlined and simplified, with clean layouts and responsive design principles. In other words, they’re designed to translate seamlessly between devices, so that visitors have the same experience whether they’re viewing your website on an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Mini. Responsive mobile websites automatically detect a viewer’s device settings and adapt appropriately to the display.

Mobile Apps Are…

Unlike websites, mobile applications (apps) are independent programs. They are downloaded and installed on a mobile device, rather than accessed through a browser. Typically, apps are obtained through an app marketplace like the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Mobile apps can be free or paid, but most companies offer their apps free to consumers in favor of marketing value.

Features of Mobile Websites and Apps

Though mobile optimized websites and mobile apps are not the same thing, they typically offer the same features—especially those that make it easier for mobile device users to find and reach your small business. Some of these common features include:

  • Mobile Marketing: Both mobile sites and apps offer capabilities for email and text-based marketing campaigns, such as loyalty programs and permission-based email lists.
  • Social Sharing: Mobile viewers can easily share content from your app or mobile website with integrated social sharing buttons.
  • Mobile Commerce: More customers are purchasing online and using their mobile devices to shop. Mobile apps and optimized websites allow your visitors to purchase your products or services from their smartphones or tablets.
  • One Click Calling: For those viewing your app or mobile site on a smartphone, this feature lets visitors call your business with a single tap.
  • Click to Map: This feature lets mobile device users tap to locate your business and get instant directions using their devices’ GPS, without having to manually enter your address into a GPS program or website like Google Maps.

So, which mobile solution should your business choose? Below are the advantages of each type of mobile access for your small business.

The Benefits of Mobile Websites

With a mobile optimized website, both PC and mobile device users can easily access and interact with your small business website. A mobile site can include all the features and elements of your regular version, but incorporate a mobile-friendly layout for better functionality and readability from a mobile device.

Mobile websites help you to ensure a seamless experience for all of your visitors, no matter where or when they access your website.

The Benefits of Mobile Apps

Because they are downloaded and installed, dedicated mobile apps can give your business the advantage of greater presence on customer devices. Mobile apps can give you more control, with features such as geo-targeted push notifications that alert device owners when they’re near your business, and data collection capacities that help you personalize your marketing.

In addition, mobile apps are easier to access on devices, and can help to streamline marketing strategies such as text-based loyalty programs and single-platform mobile payments.

Whether you’re developing a mobile website or a mobile app, there are generally two avenues to choose: you can do it yourself with the many tools available for mobile optimized website and mobile app development, or work with a professional developer to create your mobile presence.

The choice of whether to use a mobile site or a mobile app depends on the needs of your particular business, and the amount of emphasis you want to place on mobile marketing.

Businessman Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]