One year of Demonetization | Views from Atom Tech, EbixCash, Zeta and PCI

Author(s): 

Mr.Dewang Neralla, MD & CEO, Atom Technologies


Atom Technologies specific

 

Demonetization was a big boon for India’s cashless and digital agenda. Months following it saw renewed vigor among people from different walks of life to join the digital movement. Government played a key role during this period in creating awareness among people about the benefits of a cashless society. For Atom, the last 12 months have been a wonderful period where in we saw an over 3X growth. Before demonetization, we were processing monthly transactions of Rs. 3000 crores which now stands at Rs. 6800 crores across all our verticals. The major contributor to this growth was our online payments business. Our focus has been largely on the education, travel ticketing financial services, C2G payments and cable&wireless industries and we have seen all round growth both in terms of enrolments as well as transactions. Payment processing volumes have grown three times to what they were since demonetization and we still continue to see a healthy growth of around 20% on a month on month basis in transactions in our online payment gateway. Today we process payments of about Rs.6800 crores per month across more than 100000 merchants which we expect this figure to grow at least 3 Times further in the next three year. We have also seen huge traction in the POS segment. During the period, we have associated with 3 banks and have powered 50000+ POS terminals. We have seen huge demand for POS spread across Tier II and III cities like Lucknow, Varanasi, Pune etc. Yes, there have been lot of noise around PoS devices becoming redundant owing to mobile based payment options. However, we ought to realize that cards and POS payments are still the easiest payment option after cash. Mobility will of course drive the next generation of payment technologies.

 

Given the varied demography in India, there is a requirement and a demand for every possible payment method. Hence we saw a number of players entering the industry ith variety of options on offer. The year was also driven by innovation and in sync with it we too launched our own ‘mGalla’ which is a multi-acquiring mobile application allowing merchants to receive digital payments through a number of options ranging from, UPI, Link Based, Bharat QR Scan&Pay to mPOS, imparting customers the convenience of making quick payments in whichever mode they are most comfortable at. It also allows merchants to accept payments by sending links to your customers on Whatsapp or SMS and receive payments through link based payment method. Our target is to acquire over 10,00,000 merchants over the next few months.

 

Industry specific

 

From an overall industry perspective, the last one year post demonetization was very exciting. Competition has also been intensified with the entrance of many new Indian and foreign players. This will drive innovation which ultimately is good news for customers. However, there have been concern that with cash back into the system, the sustenance of digitizing payments has taken a hit. However, we believe that structural reforms like the GST has in fact given the much needed boost to the digitization initiative. It will be difficult to make cash deals anymore with digital trails of every transaction now. While we haven’t seen any slow down owing to cash in the system, we are sure that even if there is any lag or slow down, it is just temporary.  

 

I think the two major technological advancements which will drive the industry going ahead are Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. AI and ML will transform the overall generation of payment technologies right from analytics to on demand payment processing aside to changing the shopping behaviour. It will help study the consumer patterns to rollout better financial products for them.

 

To summarise, globally this is one of the most exciting times for fintech especially payment processing. My belief is that India would take the lead in leapfrogging the global community for payments technologically whether it is instant payments or anything else. We would see a lot of innovations emerging to solve problems at the granular level.  This augurs really well for India.

 

Mr. Bhavik Vasa – Chief Growth Officer, EbixCash

 

“Demonetisation has been a catalyst event, which created an inflection point in the eco-system, where the government, regulators, industry players are now driving towards a common vision.

This is only Round 1 completed (first year post-demon) ... the cashless match has only just begun and it's gonna be a long one!

Post-demonetisation, the rhetoric has now changed from bank v/s non-bank or wallet v/s bank, with the industry witnessing an increased mind share for its digital and cashless journey.

We have always maintained and it's the past year has only more definitively confirmed that the path ahead is Collaborative Innovation

At Ebix ItzCash we now have more than 2,00,000 retail touch points across the country, our ability to be an omni-channel player, has helped us clock a growth of 35-40% across sectors.

For us it has been about enabling more and more of ‘Bharat’ to come on-board and transact in a digital economy and today we do more than 6,00,000 transactions daily across a healthy of all my instruments.

 

10 years ago nearly 2% of all transactions were in cash, today approximately 12% -15% of the transactions are done digitally and we are very optimistic that now the industry is all set to witness an accelerated growth during the next decade.

 

With demonetisation, every small shop owner now has got either a digital payment instrument or a Bharat QR code or a payment gateway solution and same has been the case with every consumer who now knows that he needs to have a digital option as well. So this was round one where the inertia which was missing has been put in place and the infrastructure has been created and from here on the industry is going to witness an increased growth.

 

Every player in the industry has made multi-fold investments in the sector in the last one year in infrastructure, brand, marketing, creating awareness. Last year at ItzCash we received investments worth Rs. 800 Crores from the US based Ebix, World’s Largest Insurance Exchange. Since then we have been completed multiple acquisitions and consolidation the space. After so many years of witnessing organic growth at ItzCash, in the last year we have driven inorganic growth at a very healthy pace.

Ebix and our group CEO Robin Raina has further committed US$ 200 million fund for investments and growth in India. 

 

Post-demonetisation, we believe the top categories to drive the momentum have been bill payments and travel bookings with more and more spends being made in these sectors. Besides corporate disbursements is also a critical segment as transactions in this segment is rapidly moving to prepaid cards and other forms of digital mode.

 

We think, this is only round one… It is a long marathon and the game has just begun!”

Mr. Bhavin TurakhiaCEO & Co-founder at Zeta

 

"Demonetisation was a turning point for the Fin-Tech industry which witnessed a phenomenal growth. We also felt a ripple effect with more corporates opening up to digital payments at cafeterias to digital tax benefit programmes.  The industry too experienced the emergence and integration of several innovative payment methods, like UPI, Bharat QR and Aadhar Pay in all forms of digital payments.  Demonetization has given a much-needed push to the digital payments industry as more and more people are opening up to the convenience of digital payments.

 

Mr. Navin Surya, Chairman, Payments Council of India

 

“The growth rate of the digital payments industry which was earlier in the range of 20-50% has accelerated post demonetisation to 40-70%.”

“However demonetization is just one of the milestones towards our country's cashless journey and not the final destination. It conveyed a strong psychological message to our countrymen that cash is not welcome and digitization of cash is inevitable. This also resulted in doubling of the number of PoS machines in just one year which was one of the weakest links prior to demonetization. However for further accelerating this growth momentum and moving towards a ‘Less Cash Economy’ both the government and the regulators need to continue the initiatives taken by them. Principle based policies, regulation v/s current approach of product or entity based regulations, seamless access to payments network and other critical payments infrastructure like UPI and RTGS among other to all the authorized payments players will make sure that incentives continue to grow for digital transactions. Besides this will also put in place an appropriate mechanism which will make cash transactions more expensive. These critical steps can further drive our current industry growth of 10% transactions to 50% in the next 5years.”

Date: 
Friday, November 3, 2017