PayPoint India: Leveraging Robotics, Automation to Enhance Rural Banking Experience

During the pandemic, the Government had rolled out a huge relief package primarily through direct benefit transfer (DBT) in bank accounts. Our retailer-driven assisted model was instrumental in reaching out to this bottom of the pyramid population. Our low-cost tech-enabled platform disbursed more than 10 million subsidies and NEREGA payments to needy people in a span of 90 days “, asserted Ketan Doshi, Managing Director, Paypoint India in conversation with Poulami Chakraborty of BW Businessworld. Excerpts Below:

How is the mobile-payment solution helping rural India? 

Post-launch of PMJDY schemes, rural India has seen growth in banking activities in terms of transactions. A new breed of customers in the banking system is now pivoting to the next level of services like usage of Cards, ATMs, and the most popular mobile payments. Mobile payments in rural India is catching up fast and will dominate the rural payments over a period of time due to its availability. Unlike other payment options, where the cost of deployments like hardware etc and cost of operations (deployment & maintenance) is very high, mobile payments are easy to roll out in even the remotest locations of India with negligible cost. The availability of 4G networks and smartphones further enhances the benefits. UPI, wallet, and QR-based Mobile payments are the future of payments in rural India.

However, the full potential of mobile payment solutions cannot be realized any time soon, due to low digital-literacy in rural India who still needs handholding. Business Correspondents or Bank Mitras, retail agents, providing banking services to the last mile, still play a crucial role in ensuring the financial products and services are availed by the un-served population of the country. Similarly, through a retail partner-assisted model, we provide a robust network of tech-enabled offline stores to deliver financial services like PMJYD accounts, micro-ATM, e-wallets, remittance, bill payments, insurance, merchant QR, and others to the remote areas in India. 

What is the growth and outlook of the Industry?

While the adoption of digital payments during the COVID-19 period has been linear and this behavior change is like to stay and accelerate in the coming days. There was a general slowdown in consumer spending during the initial period of lockdown and an overall drop in the number of transactions in the initial four months until July 2020. Post that we have seen a 20% growth in digital payments in Industry.  

Consolidation has been a prominent theme within the global payments industry. In India, this profound shake-up will reshape the landscape of the payments industry as players will look to augment this to capitalize on economies of scale.

Additionally, businesses are looking at integrating their online and offline channels to provide an omnichannel experience to their customers, thereby deepening its market presence. In similar lines, we at PayPoint India have partnered with more than 100 service providers plugged into our offline-to-online (O2O) platform to interact with the under-served in rural India. Our platform is a digitally connected network of more than 48,000 offline stores in India, serving the last-mile.

How did Digital India help in the times of pandemic especially in the area of service your company is in? 

Our company is focused on the delivery of financial services to the last mile. During the pandemic, the Government had rolled out a huge relief package primarily through direct benefit transfer (DBT) in bank accounts. Our retailer-driven assisted model was instrumental in reaching out to this bottom of the pyramid population. Our low-cost tech-enabled platform disbursed more than 10 million subsidies and NEREGA payments to needy people in a span of 90 days.

Not only during the pandemic crisis, but also recent floods in Assam, Paypoint has enabled people to access regular banking thereby showcasing strong customer-centricity. Our representatives innovatively sailed on a local boat carrying all necessary equipment such as laptops, dongle for internet connectivity, fingerprint scanner, basic printer, etc. in the dangerous waters of Brahmaputra to provide banking service. This was commended by the Govt. of Assam and Govt. of India.

What are the role of automation, robotics, and other technology to enhance user experience in the mobile payment sector?

Robotics is playing an important role in customer acquisition and customer support. This is likely to improve the turnaround time by almost 90 percent, and dependency on manpower will reduce by 50 percent over the period. Robotics also increases the customer experience by miles. Automation, done correctly and strategically, can help deliver a customer experience that improves customer acquisition and retention while increasing sales and lowering costs.

Through PayPoint, we are committed to providing world-class services to our customers, "24X7". By consistently bringing change to the industry, we hope to deliver ahead of the curve products and services and reimagine finances alongside the changing future of mobility.

For instance, at the core of PayPoint's operations, we have an innovative Conversational-AI, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool with an integrated Chatbot system.  Additionally, we have also deployed mATM handheld devices in areas where people don't even have access to basic banking services. This helps our customers access banking services conveniently at their local Kirana or grocery store.

Does the Industry get enough support from the Government? What more can the government do in order to enhance the user experience of the domain?

The Government of India is spearheading the digitization drive, thereby boosting productivity, creating new jobs, and radically enhancing the ease of living particularly for those sections of the society whose aspirations are impeded by social barriers and geographic constraints. The various initiatives taken by the government to boost digital payment like the BharatNet, Jandhan Aadhaar Mobile, DBT has been a runaway success.

However, while the digital space is evolving very fast, regulations need to be strengthened with regards to cybercrimes, trademarks, the creation of awareness in investigating agencies with regards to digital transactions, and how to deal with it.

What are the voids in payments infrastructure that create spaces for payment frauds to occur? How can these challenges be mitigated?

Cloning of websites is one of the most significant issues faced by any payment aggregators and the customers. Most of the time, unknown unscrupulous elements fraudulently float a website with similar page names and email IDs to execute fraudulent activities. These websites are counterfeit of the registered company ones and have the same photographs and information mentioned over there with the sole purpose to cheat and misleading innocent people. Since PayPoint and various other similar brands are into payment aggregation and payment service providers, most of the aggregation is rooted through them. The fraudulent happened through these clone websites leads to the freezing of the company's accounts, and the whole process takes it own time to get resolve. In India, it's challenging to pull down a clone site legitimately, and by the time the entire process and legal proceedings are completed, a new site is played.

The whole ecosystem around this needed to be strengthened with fresh thinking in terms of judicial and law enforcement to get this thing in place. The right KYC to register a website can stop this kind of fraudulent activity.  

With the regulatory focus on reducing payments frauds, what are the suggestions that can be taken forward?

A centralized agency to coordinate between the entire stakeholders right from regulators to the local police station, the central police station and the home ministry equipped with the latest technology can effectively reduce the numbers of frauds in a successful resolution.