While demonetisation might have pushed people towards digital payments, the challenge remains how to reach out to people who don’t have a data connection. With India having internet penetration of just 34.8 per cent, Paytm has come to the rescue of non-internet users with its latest feature to make digital payments seamless. It has announced a toll-free number 180018001234 to enable consumers and merchants to pay and receive money and even recharge mobile phone without internet. This strategic move by the Alibaba-backed e-wallet allows them to tap areas without internet connection. They bombarded the announcement of this new feature with front page ads in major publications across the country.
To avail the service, users first have to register their mobile number and set a four-digit PIN to use the service. Once registered, they can transfer funds between wallets. Mobile recharge facility is also reported to be available over the toll-free number as claimed by Paytm. Currently offline transactions can only be done through a bank’s phone-banking service. Over a million offline merchants across India accept Paytm as their preferred payment mode.
It must be mentioned that Paytm has turned out to be the biggest benefactor of demonetisation among the digital wallet companies. Till the end of last month it has been witnessing over seven million transactions worth Rs 120 crore a day, helping it cross USD 5 billion GMV sales, months ahead of its target, courtesy demonetization. Its founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma in an interview to us earlier mentioned that this year they are expected to clear Rs 300 billion worth of payments and on their way to complete 2 billion transactions this year too. With over 500,000 users being added to the platform every day Sharma’s dream of reaching out to 500 million customers in couple of years is only getting closer. Add to that, the launch of Paytm’s interface in 10 languages other than English will only hasten the process. So inevitably it’s a no brainer that the latest step will enable Paytm achieve their mission.
Other players are also stepping up their game and cashing on this scenario with different tricks up their sleeves. In fact MobiKwik addressed a similar scenario by launching a light mobile wallet app called MobiKwik Lite to ease the digital payment process for retailers and shopkeepers with iffy connection (EDGE). Less than 1MB in size, the app is available Hindi and English and can be downloaded by giving a missed call 80971-80971.
On the other hand FreeCharge is expanding its footprint through its partnership with ICICI Merchant Services that enable will enable its users to pay from their FreeCharge wallet account at over 1 lakh ICICI Merchant Services merchants across 700 cities and towns in India. Customers can use their mobile phones to make payments and complete the transaction with a secure On-The-Go-Pin in less than 10 seconds.