Mobile Money Heats Up in India as Google Doubles Down

That’s the headline of my most recent story, which came out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI–Alphabet Inc.’s Google is raising its mobile-payments game in India with new functions and services as global players race to woo the nation’s legions of consumers who are skipping credit cards and transacting on smartphones instead.

A day after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said it had invested in the parent company of India’s largest digital-payments firm, called Paytm, Google said it is expanding its mobile money service in the South Asian nation. It is partnering with several local banks to offer consumer loans from within its app in the coming weeks, aiming to assist users seeking cash to cover expenses such as school fees.

Google is also expanding its tie-ups to more online merchants as well as to physical retail shops such as India’s ubiquitous mom and pop stores.

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By Me Today: Google Wants a Piece of Mobile Payments in India

2017-09-18rupee

The story begins:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is aiming for a piece of India’s booming—but increasingly crowded—mobile-payments business.

The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant on Monday launched its first-ever smartphone app that lets users transfer money to individuals and businesses in the country without the use of a credit or a debit card, a crucial factor since many here lack plastic.

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So, to re-cap the state of play as people leapfrog from cash (over credit cards) to payments via smartphones here:

  • Paytm — which we profiled back in June — is the market leader, with more than 225 million users. There are other popular services here, as well, like Mobikwik.
  • WhatsApp, with 200 million users in India, is exploring a payments feature.
  • Hike, India’s biggest home grown app, added a payments feature a few months ago.

Watch this space.

New Story: Mobile Wallet Paytm Hits Pay Dirt Amid India’s Cash Crackdown

A new story out Wed., which I wrote with my colleague Corinne Abrams, begins:

MUMBAI—India’s second-most-valuable startup, the mobile-payments app Paytm, has a new target after proving itself more popular than credit cards.

“We’re competing with cash,” said Madhur Deora, Paytm’s chief financial officer. “In India, we’re not competing with cards.”

The company’s boast isn’t a stretch, given India’s crackdown on cash over the past six months has left citizens and merchants searching for cashless payment alternatives. Paytm has seized the opportunity and become the market leader through timely partnerships, simplifying the app’s process and dispatching an army of up to 10,000 trainers to reach out to the tiny shops that dominate the Indian economy.

The results have been impressive. Five million merchants in India accept payments using Paytm, five times the number that accept credit cards, Mr. Deora said. In addition, Paytm has 225 million mobile wallet customers, more than Snapchat’s 166 million daily active users world-wide and four times as many as rival mobile-payment competitors MobiKwik and FreeCharge, which each have 55 million users.

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By Me Yesterday: India’s Paytm Sees Surge in Usage After Demonetization

The story begins:

Indian online payment firm Paytm says it has added 8 million new users in the two weeks since the government announced the replacement of the country’s highest-denomination bank notes.

In a bid to root out corruption, counterfeit money and tax evasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Nov. 8 announced the replacement of notes worth 500 rupees ($7.30) and 1,000 rupees ($14.60). That move has resulted in a cash shortage, with scores of people lining up outside ATMs and banks to deposit their cash, exchange old notes or withdraw new bills.

The inconvenience has also pushed people to sign up for digital wallets.

“This is the golden age of investment in digital payments in India,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma, chief executive of Paytm parent company One97 Communications, said at a news conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Patym, which is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., makes a popular mobile app that can be used to pay for everything from auto-rickshaw rides to groceries.

The Noida, India-based firm is adding about 500,000 new users daily following Mr. Modi’s announcement, according to Mr. Sharma. It added 100,000 a day last month.

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