India Payments Research

The financial services sector in India is at it again; at least the regulators and the mainstream business publications are. Talking up UPI (Unified Payments Interface) as a panacea for India’s challenges with financial inclusion, cash economy (read black money), plateauing digital ecosystem and you name it. 

Ecommerce major Flipkart’s acquisition of UPI based startup PhonePe Internet Pvt Ltd shows that the payment space is heating up at a rapid pace. Incidentally PhonePe, the Bengaluru based startup was launched by three former Flipkart executives just four months back, and is focusing on peer to peer payments, bill payment and merchant payments- areas of interest for ecommerce companies.

Earlier this week the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) came out with guidelines allowing for 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in online retail of goods and services.

Last week saw the first ever IPO by an Indian e-commerce company. Infibeam’s IPO however, might not provide an accurate baseline for the booming Indian ecommerce industry.

The payments space in India is heating up. Smaller players are looking at exits through consolidation into bigger players. The bigger players have challenges of their own.

The recent move by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to initiate a ‘Unified Payment Interface (UPI)’ which aims to simplify and provide a single interface across all banking payment systems is a welcome decision. It is understood that 30 banks have evinced interest to commence UPI-based services in the new financial year (April 2016-March 2017) in India.

Currently Indian IT companies draw between 25-40% of their revenues from the Banking and Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector. This revenue size of about $35-45 Billion implies that Indian IT continues to draw its sustenance from the BFSI universe.

The last few months saw some big announcements in the e-wallets space in India. Wallet adoption, particularly on mobile, has been quite rapid in India, with wallet based transactions doubling in both number of transactions (153 Million in 2015 vs 67 Million in 2014) and value ($820 Million in 2015 vs $329 Million in 2014) as compared to the previous year (Q4 comparison from RBI data).

The 11 applicants were given a go ahead last year by the RBI to start payments banking services in the country and are readying to start operations around the middle of this year. This will be the Indian central bank's first tryst with pure play fintech enabled service institutions in the country. This will also be a first for several of the licensees planning to operate in this space.

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