India has experienced some amazing shifts in the digitization of payments over the last two years. Demonetization brought about a strong impetus for consumers to switch to cashless methods of payment. There has been an increase in adoption of digital instruments which have been aided by a rise in merchant outlets, and proliferation of UPI which has simplified money transfer to banks. Merchants accepting card payments have increased by twice as many coming to about 3 million merchants with the number of UPI transactions rising up to 250 million in June 2018.
What’s interesting is that a major portion of the activity in digital payments has been led by non-banks. E-wallets and payment gateways in India have gained significant prominence. Digital payments are expected to evolve rapidly in the next few years to overtake cash spending by 2020.
Below are the top 5 trends that will drive this change:
The technology underlying UPI enables instant payments from one bank account to another and is path-breaking. Users are often inconvenienced when they have to log into websites or apps VPAs. Third party providers who offer payment apps on top of UPI using open APIs make this process convenient and almost invisible. This enables many consumers to access UPI and use it for peer-to-peer payments.
With the use of the QR code technology for digital payments at merchant outlets, the need for expensive EDC (electronic data capture) machines or NFC (near-field communication) devices is eliminated. This improves the economics of merchant acquiring. A rise in merchants accepting non-cash payments is expected owing to this advantage. Mobile phones will be the device of choice for payments using QR codes. Traditional acquiring models will get disrupted, and new-age acquirers will offer value added services to merchants in order to make acquiring business economically viable.
Zero transaction fees
Government incentives and competitive forces are driving the economics of payment transactions to a decline. The RBI (Reserve bank of India) has capped merchant discount rates for debit card transactions at 0.4%. Most fintech firms are giving their payments services for free. This downward trend is expected to continue and will lead to payments being offered for free with players looking to monetize data through sale of other financial and non-financial products.
With greater focus being placed on customer acquisition and driving adoption of digital payments, risk management and fraud control haven’t been as stringent as they should be. Cyber-attacks have been reported to have caused alarming financial damages of more than $500,000 to Indian companies in the last 12 months alone.
It is imperative for digital payments players to embrace new technologies like bio metric authentication, AI, ML and pattern matching for real-time fraud prevention for digital payment transactions.
A large number of new players have ventured to join the space of payment gateways in India in the last couple years. Some of them offer niche solutions. From the perspective of consumers ubiquity is important, as they look for instruments that can be used for both purposes online and offline.
This space is expected to witness consolidation with a few large players dominating the market in the coming years.