Merchants can accept payments from any app without a transaction charge or monthly subscription
Spotted: Startup BharatPE makes it easy and cost-effective for India’s small business owners to accept multiple types of digital payment.
Once a predominantly cash-based society, India has seen steep growth in digital payments in recent years. This has been further accelerated by COVID-19 which forced the country to adopt strict lockdown measures such as social distancing and curfews. As a result, cashless payments are penetrating deeper into the Indian economy than ever. They are no longer the sole preserve of India’s biggest e-commerce giants, malls, and supermarkets. Nor are they solely an urban phenomenon. Digital payments have not only seen growth in tier 1 metropolises like Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai – they are also being rapidly adopted in smaller regional cities.
At the heart of India’s real economy are the neighbourhood kirana stores that many customers turn to for daily staples. Kiranas account for a massive 75-78 per cent of the Indian consumer goods market, and they too are entering the digital payments game. These stores are small or medium-sized and their priorities for payment technology are cost and trustworthiness. QR codes do well on these criteria and have become the most popular option for small businesses.
BharatePe’s technology is ideally suited to meet the needs of this market sector. The company offers a single QR code to accept payments from multiple apps including PayTM, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM, and over 150 others. These apps are based on the UPI (unified payments interface) network, an instant payment system created in India and popular in several other South and South-East Asian markets, and the UAE. The main appeal of BharatPE for small businesses is that it offers a convenient way to accept many payment types with no costs in the form of transaction charges or monthly subscriptions.
BharatPE is also expanding into complementary services. This includes a P2P lending solution that enables alternative financing options that are not available through a traditional bank. Other solutions include a credit cum debit card, and a zero-fee card machine. Most recently, the company announced that it will begin offering gold loans.
As new technologies are rolled out worldwide, it is important that solutions are tailored to the characteristics and structures of different markets. Another recent innovation that uses new technology to complement existing market practices is a B2B retail platform for Africa’s informal sector.
Written by: Matthew Hempstead