Meta-commerce platform PayNearby Mall witnesses less than 10% Return on delivery, one-third that of traditional online shopping

Human intelligence in terms of retailer assist at last mile optimizing purchase process

Mumbai, 09th October, 2023: PayNearby, India’s largest branchless banking and digital network, announced that its meta-commerce platform – PayNearby Mall, has registered exceptionally low return rates, helping its partner brands optimise costs. The platform which enables easy availability of goods and services in an assisted mode at the last mile has generated a return rate of ~10% when the average rate typically ranges between 20-30%.

In the last six months, over ~25,000+ retailers have enthusiastically embraced the platform. Interestingly, when compared to the urban and metro areas, where e-commerce penetration is high, PayNearby Mall registered a 46% GTV in rural regions, closely tailed by semi-urban areas, with 45%. This shift in consumer behaviour suggests that rural India is increasingly embracing the e-commerce revolution and is as aspirational as its urban counterpart. The most sought-after categories include grocery at 35%, followed by mobile and accessories and cloths at 14% and 9% respectively.

In the e-commerce industry, returns frequently arise from prevalent issues such as impulsive purchases, inaccurate item selection, or unmet customer expectations. However, a substantial number of product returns can significantly impact the financial performance of e-commerce operations. Each returned item incurs expenses associated with processing, restocking, and potential damages, increasing operational costs and logistical complexities. It erodes the profit margins significantly. PayNearby Mall’s innovative assisted meta-commerce model, which blends the convenience of digital commerce with the personal touch of PayNearby retailers, allows partner brands to optimise the costs associated with processing returns.

In areas where e-commerce adoption is low, PayNearby Mall allows partners to bring their products at neighbourhood stores. Customers can walk into these nearby stores and with the help of the local retailer access products on an aggregated e-platform of 100+ partner sites, and shop easily for the products they need. The personalised approach of this unique model helps customers make the right decision and buy the right products, reducing the likelihood of returns due to impulsive buying or incorrect item selection. It results in enhanced cost efficiency for e-commerce players, preserving profit margins and contributing to their overall financial sustainability.

Speaking on the development, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “E-commerce has transformed how people shop. But with it comes the challenge of returns. Studies show that 54% of buyers consider free returns as one of the biggest factors influencing their buying decisions. However, high return rates often impact the financials, customer satisfaction, and overall operational efficiency of businesses. PayNearby Mall’s low return rate underscores the effectiveness of our approach. On one hand, our meta-commerce model empowers rural consumers by bringing the products they want within their reach. On the other hand, with our retailers offering the human touch in helping customers make informed decisions, our e-commerce partners are seeing reduced returns rates, optimised costs and increased revenue.”

PayNearby and Grameen Foundation India Collaborate to upskill 150,000 Rural Business Correspondents and Generate Employment Opportunities for Women and Youth

The partnership aims to serve more than 6,00,000 customers with banking and beyond services

  • Make rural Business Correspondents and women catalysts of change in their communities by upskilling them as financial and digital counters
  • Onboard 15,000+ women business correspondents and provide them with sustainable self-employment
  • Upskill business correspondents to generate additional income beyond their regular cash-in and cash-out services, and make them viable change agents for long term impact

Mumbai, 04 September 2023: India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, PayNearby, today announced that it has collaborated with Grameen Foundation for Social Impact (GFSI), a leading non-profit organisation dedicated to uplifting underserved communities, to upskill 150,000 business correspondents (BCs) across Indian hinterland and upgrade them to provide digital and financial services beyond cash-in/cash-out to the underserved and tech-shy last mile population. This will strengthen rural BC counters with long term viable business solutions and make them sustainable change agents at the grass root level. The partnership will also work towards providing employment opportunities to the women and youth of Bharat.

As part of this collaboration, PayNearby and Grameen Foundation for Social Impact will launch a pan-India scale-up project titled ‘Scaling Agent Viability and Quality in India’ supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The initiative will be completed over the span of next two years. It marks a significant step towards amplifying the impact of BCs’ in enhancing financial accessibility across the country, by expanding their financial product offerings beyond traditional cash-in and cash-out services. Expanded product suite will increase customer retention and empower these correspondents to generate supplementary income streams.

This collaboration between PayNearby and GFSI is not only a strategic step in expanding financial accessibility but also a crucial initiative for empowering women within the financial sector. This initiative places a strong emphasis on skill enhancement among BCs and also gender sensitivity. By offering the necessary skills, knowledge, and support, this initiative will foster increased opportunities for both rural BC counters and women’s professional growth and financial empowerment. The goal is to enlist 15,000 female BC agents, thereby promoting gender inclusivity within this sector.

Under this initiative, GFSI will leverage PayNearby’s Distribution-as-a-Service network and expertise to streamline operations and enable BCs to offer a diverse range of sachetised and tailored digital and financial solutions across domains such as, commerce, education, entertainment, credit management, insurance and more. In addition to right capacity building, PayNearby will invest in awareness and upskilling of this network to seamlessly enable multiple digital and financial services through local counters. BCs will be made aware of the financial advantage of a diversified product portfolio, and how more loyalty and value per customer can be derived through that.

Speaking on the development, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “In the dynamic landscape of Bharat, achieving mass transformation necessitates mass mobilisation, and the formidable BC network is ideally positioned to embrace this challenge. BCs have been playing a crucial role in bridging the financial and digital gap at the last mile.

We are extremely honoured to work with Grameen Foundation for Social Impact to upskill BC network and make them viable multi-service counters, beyond cash-in/cash-out services. This is critical not only for the long-term financial viability of rural BC counters, but also the overall growth of communities at the grass root level. A diversified product portfolio will not only drive more value per footfall, but also enhance customer loyalty and retention.”

Alok Kumar Jha, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, PayNearby further adds, “We are extremely honoured to be a facilitator for empowerment of women BCs, who are the drivers of rural progress. This collaboration echoes our commitment towards our Sashakt Naari, Sashakt Samaaj, Sashakt Desh mission. Through this, we aim to not only provide sustainable self-employment to Women BC Sakhis, but also ensure more women from Bharat’s hinterland are brought into the formal financial fold through them, thus bridging the gender gap at the last mile.”

Arindam Dasgupta, Director – Innovations In Digital Finance, Grameen Foundation for Social Impact, said, “With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), we are delighted to embark on this impactful collaboration with PayNearby. Our shared vision to drive financial inclusion and enhance women’s empowerment is at the heart of this partnership. By leveraging our combined strengths, we aim to drive meaningful change by enhancing agent quality, expanding product accessibility, and fostering a more inclusive financial landscape. Together, we are charting a path toward a brighter and more empowered future for all.

The collaboration is underpinned by a shared commitment to enhance women’s capacity to shape and thrive in a more connected business environment, demonstrating the benefits of inclusive development, women’s economic empowerment, and fostering participation from all key stakeholders.”

Bharat spends an average of 15-20% of household income on medical expenses: PayNearby Study

On the occasion of India’s 76th Independence Day, PayNearby releases its first edition of ‘Bharat Health Index’ – a study of healthcare awareness in Bharat

  • 15-20% of yearly income spent on medical expenses in Bharat households
  • 55% of those surveyed have never heard of insurance
  • 70% did not have a health insurance cover
  • 23% relied on informal loans or borrowing to take care of hospital expenses
  • 45% travelled more than 10 kms to avail doctor services
  • 35% of respondents expressed interest in online medical purchases
  • 32% have shown interest on telemedicine consultation

Mumbai, 11th August, 2023: Only 25% of the semi-rural and rural population in India have access to modern healthcare within their localities, highlighted a survey titled Bharat Health Index (BHI) 2023, released by PayNearby, India’s largest branchless banking and digital network. The accessibility index saw a major dip as one moved from urban to rural India, with only 10% of the rural respondents citing that they had access to healthcare within a 10km radius.

These findings are based on survey responses of 10,000+ retailers across semi-rural and rural India over a month.

Lack of skilled healthcare providers at the last mile pose a significant challenge for accessibility. Only 15% of respondents confirmed having a doctor’s clinic or healthcare facility within a 5 km radius. In terms of medical practitioners available, while 25% had access to general physicians in their area, 92% lacked specialised doctors, such as cardiologists, gynaecologists or paediatricians, impacting medical care.

For specialised treatment such as cancer, neurological or blood disorders, 90% needed to travel to a different location for treatment. 5% reported loss of a loved one due to unavailability of specialist doctors at the local healthcare facility. The survey also evaluated the accessibility and convenience of medical stores at the last mile. A notable 52% of respondents had a pharmacy within 5 km radius of their residence, making essential medicines relatively accessible. However, 85% of the respondents had to travel more than 10 kms to obtain specialised medicines, indicating potential challenges for those with specific medical needs.

Interestingly, 47% of the respondents possessed a thermometer at home, while only 7% had instruments to check blood pressure and blood sugar, suggesting room for improved self- monitoring and prevention.

The survey also examined the funding mechanism for medical expenses and how affordability could be improved at the last mile. The report indicated that an average household in Bharat spent approximately 15-20% of their yearly income on medical expenses. 23% relied on informal loans or borrowing for hospital expenses, while 6% resorted to selling assets to pay off their medical bills. A significant 53% utilised some form of savings to cover these expenses. Given the dependence on out-of-pocket expenses for medical costs, the survey emphasized the urgent need for setting up a financial funding mechanism to address the escalating medical expenses at the last mile. The penetration of financial products such as insurance emerged as crucial for enhancing healthcare affordability and accessibility. However, the report highlighted the abysmally low insurance awareness among Bharat’s last mile. A substantial 55% of the respondents had never heard of insurance. Among those aware of insurance, only 32% had opted for insurance at some point, with a mere 28% possessing health insurance for themselves or their families. Among those with insurance, 88% obtained it from government or state sponsored schemes, while less than 10% obtained it from private insurance providers.

For those without insurance, reasons varied. A substantial 38% cited affordability as a major hindrance, while others mentioned uncertainty about where to buy insurance (36%) or its benefits (24%). Respondents identified limited availability of health insurance providers and lack of information (32%) as the primary challenge. This was closely followed by high premiums (28%), complex documentation processes (15%), limited coverage for specific healthcare needs (18%), and language or literacy barriers (7%).

To improve overall accessibility of healthcare services, the survey also evaluated the affinity for online medicine purchase and teleconsultation among this population. 35% expressed interest in online medical purchases, 32% favoured telemedicine consultations, and 32% showed keenness for online awareness programs and diagnostics/lab tests- online appointments.  The encouraging response towards digital adoption highlights the need for tech-led innovations and distribution models to broaden healthcare reach across the country.

Commenting on the findings, Mr. Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby said, “Over 70% of India resides in rural and semi-rural regions. This survey reinforces the urgent need to scale healthcare services for the masses.  More than 80% of doctors, 75% of dispensaries, 60% of hospitals are concentrated in urban India, leaving out marginalised population in SURU to fend for themselves. While infrastructure scaling takes times, leveraging technology for   distribution breakthroughs is crucial to cater to a wider audience. Reliable tele-consultation platforms and easy to use online pharmacy modules can greatly contribute. Our recently launched Health Correspondent program, is a step in that direction. Together with our retailers, the mission is to spread medical awareness and create local health hubs, ensuring the reach of critical primary health services through technology.

The survey also highlights the low penetration of insurance among our populace. To address this, more dialogue and action are needed to facilitate better insurance penetration in the country. This Independence Day, PayNearby has introduced Risk se Freedom Pao campaign, to not only build awareness but also eliminate roadblocks that keep people from availing insurance products. It’s critical that people perceive health insurance in the right light for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. “

Commenting on the report findings, Jayatri Dasgupta, CMO, PayNearby, said, “As India celebrates its 76th Independence Day, an important yardstick to measure the health of the nation is to understand the state of health infrastructure and awareness among the country’s last mile. Affordable and accessible healthcare is pivotal for country’s progress. PayNearby’s Bharat Health Index (BHI) 2023 initiative addresses gaps in existing healthcare infrastructure and outlines ways to enhance it.  The survey highlights the need for more trained medical professionals in rural areas, a better financial support system for medical expenses, accelerated insurance penetration, and the strategic use of technology for distribution breakthroughs.”

Protean & PayNearby team up to democratize credit through ONDC; What could be India’s unique credit marketplace built on the ONDC Network

Mumbai, 09th August, 2023: Protean eGov Technologies Limited, a pioneer and leader in Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), Regulatory Tech (RegTech) and Open Networks, has joined forces with PayNearby, India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, to make credit services more accessible and affordable for Indians across the country leveraging the ONDC network. This marketplace will be launched soon for last mile borrowers and MSMEs. Once launched the market place will also allow for easy discovery of various lending products at affordable pricing to its borrowers.

In this partnership, Protean will serve as an ONDC technology service provider that facilitates availability of credit for last mile borrowers across the country through PayNearby’s well entrenched Distribution as a Service (DaaS) network. By making this service available through 12+ lakh active PayNearby outlets, the partnership aims to broad-base credit access for India and Bharat both and lay the foundation of a more inclusive society. Smart data modelling and use of frameworks like Account Aggregator (AA) will ensure credit extension to thin-file/new-to-credit underserved citizens, driving breakthroughs in the way India and Bharat lends. Protean will also aggregate multiple Loan Service Providers (LSPs) onto a single platform, thereby giving citizens and businesses the convenience of choice and affordability.

India has a glaring inadequacy in capital access across all segments of the society. According to a TransUnion CIBIL research, the credit served population in the country in 2021 stood less than 22% of the adult population. Despite significant advances in financial inclusion through the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhar, and Mobile) trinity, formal credit access to rural and low-income households continue to be a challenge. Dependence of rural poor on money lenders continue, and is more pronounced in the case of marginal farmers, landless labourers, MSMEs and economically backward classes.

The Protean-PayNearby partnership will solve for many of the use-cases that inhibit last mile penetration. Formal institutions find it expensive to reach rural underserved due to their geographical remoteness and lack of access to customer data. Rural citizens are therefore left with very few choices, often informal and at very high cost. With PayNearby’s robust DaaS network, LSPs gain seamless access to local markets through digitally-enabled retailers, streamlining servicing costs. The Account Aggregator (AA) framework enhances credit scoring for accurate assessment of new-to-credit (NTC) and thin-file segments, enabling tailored credit to a wider audience.

For borrowers, credit shopping through a comprehensive marketplace will give them the choice to pick the interest rate and repayment terms as per their needs. The aspect of choice will rationalize pricing and make credit more affordable at the last mile. For the tech-shy and documentation-averse last mile customer, trusted PayNearby local retailers will streamline the process, ensuring faster and hassle-free loan applications and disbursals.

Suresh Sethi, Managing Director and CEO, Protean eGov Technologies Limited, said, “Protean has been at the forefront of building Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and population scale e-governance solutions for the citizens and has successfully created a pan-India assisted model to include the digitally excluded masses. However, Bharat is still underserved in terms of access to formal credit. We firmly believe that consent-based data sharing through Account Aggregator will digitally empower the individuals with their own data. Towards that, we have partnered with PayNearby to leverage the Account Aggregator and ONDC network to further accelerate financial inclusion and enable credit access for individuals and businesses at the last mile. This partnership will enable seamless discovery of borrowers and lenders and help create a more inclusive financial system in India.”

Commenting on the alliance, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “At PayNearby, we champion financial inclusion. However, true inclusion requires credit access at the last mile. Our integration with Protean through ONDC will revolutionize credit availability in Bharat. This partnership enables LSPs to offer formal credit to MSMEs and customers, with competitive pricing and tailored products. Multiple data sources enhance underwriting decisions, ensuring timely credit. PayNearby retailers provide human intelligence for seamless loan disbursals. We’re excited about the potential to create value for our retail partners and customers alike. Zidd Aage Badhne Ki!”

In the past, PayNearby and Protean joined forces to provide paperless PAN Card services at nearby stores across the country

PayNearby focuses on championing health transformation across Bharat through the launch of its Health Correspondent Program

Committed to make quality healthcare available at last mile by appointing 1 lakh Health correspondents by the end of FY23-24.

Mumbai, 24th July, 2023: PayNearby, India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, has launched the Health Correspondents* Program with an aim to make quality healthcare affordable and accessible to the country’s most vulnerable and last-mile population. This is in line with the company’s nation building pledge to make all essential services available for the country’s underserved population and ensure overall transformation of Bharat through a mass transformation approach. The company’s existing network of retailers, such as kirana stores, mobile recharge stores, medical shops, customer service point (CSPs) and travel agents, along with new appointees through Gram Panchayats and local institutions, will be leveraged for this initiative.

The Healthcare Correspondents (HCs) will act as intermediaries between healthcare providers and the rural population, aligning with the Ayushman Bharat vision of the Government of India to enhance primary healthcare in tier II regions and beyond. PayNearby plans to leverage its Distribution as a Service (DaaS) network to bring essential healthcare services to rural Bharat, ensuring equitable access across the country. The program includes promoting various healthcare-related products and services through its HCs, including a Health Card mapped to the citizen’s PayNearby account, to provide discounts on medicines, medical tests, basic medical equipments and doctor consultations via telemedicine. Furthermore, to safeguard citizens from financial risks and life’s uncertainties, the HCs will offer tailor-made healthcare insurance schemes as well.

PayNearby aims to recruit HCs in every corner of the country, utilising existing infrastructure like gram panchayats. By the end of FY23-24, the company plans to convert at least 1 lakh of its million+ active retailers into HCs, expanding the reach of telemedicine services.

Speaking on the occasion, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “Healthcare is one of the most important parameters of a country’s progress. The true growth of a nation lies in its ability to provide comprehensive health services to its population. PayNearby understands the importance of prioritising people’s health and empowering them to take care of themselves and their families. By introducing Health Correspondents Program in our portfolio, we seek to bridge the gap between urban and rural healthcare services, enabling citizens in Bharat to access all the necessary facilities available to their urban counterparts.

Our retailers are the flagbearers of the massive inclusion mission that we have undertaken. In times of crisis, they have always been at the beck and call of the citizens. Their role during the pandemic, as community managers bringing government’s relief funds to the masses or ensuring mass registration for the immunization program, gave us the confidence that our retail partners can double up as HCs and use technology to enable quality healthcare services in their communities. With time and adequate handholding, HCs will be trained to bring about a behavorial shift so that technology can be used for all primary healthcare needs, whether it is teleconsultation with specialists, ordering medicine at discounted rates or health related awareness and training programs locally.

With this initiative, we are committed to help the country achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and take the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Swasthya’ mission a notch higher.”

During the pandemic, the local trust of PayNearby’s retailers came into play when they doubled up as frontline warriors and ensured DBT and other relief funds reached the hands of the intended. In addition, they also helped people register on the CoWIN app for vaccination, creating large-scale community awareness for the immunization program. Success of societal welfare programs like these has augmented the trust and reach of the PayNearby network and elevated them as community managers in their territories, which will now be leveraged to enable affordable healthcare at the last mile.

*Disclaimer: Health Correspondents are concerned individuals, only assisting in making health tech/health services accessible to rural India and do not provide health/medical-related services on their own (i.e. as health workers/ RMP/ caregivers or any other authorised service provider).

PayNearby launches PayNearby Radio on its app, aims to make it Bharat’s most preferred infotainment channel for merchants and small businesses

Aims to provide bite-sized content that offers both entertainment and livelihood enhancement tools

Mumbai, 19 July, 2023: PayNearby, India’s largest branchless banking and digital network, has launched PayNearby Radio, a platform curated exclusively for its million+ active retailers in Bharat, to provide them with snackable content that helps them grow unabated in life. It is aligned with the company’s vision to mass-modernize the retail sector across the country and create a thriving ecosystem for its retail partners, bringing them at par with the current times.

PayNearby Radio enhances retailer engagement, providing tips on shop modernization and income augmentation, health and lifestyle care, and news updates that are relevant for this cohort. The platform marries entertainment with valuable life-skill recommendations that will help retailers further their life-goals. Available on the PayNearby app, the platform has already registered ~150,000+ total events within days of its launch.

Currently available in Hindi, the content will be made available in other regional languages as well. PayNearby Radio has a familiar interface, similar to popular social media platforms and enables retailers to like and share content, fostering collaboration and amplifying reach. PayNearby aims to evolve radio into a valuable two-way conduit for retailer communication.

Speaking on the launch, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby said, “Our retailers are the heart of our business, and their growth and well-being are central to how we operate. At PayNearby, our motto is to create a conducive environment that helps our retail partners grow unabated in life. PayNearby Radio is an initiative dedicated to empowering their personal and economic well-being. Content that are tailormade for our retailers will ensure that we are able to add substantial value to their livelihood and lifestyles. Overtime, we are working to evolve this platform into a medium that allows our retailers and their families to showcase their talent and create the go-to engagement channel for them.”

Commenting further, Jayatri Dasgupta, CMO, PayNearby said, “In today’s world of high decibel noise and hugely fragmented media-space, getting the mindshare of a targeted cohort becomes really challenging. More challenging is to hold their interest and create stickiness, without being intrusive and lack-lustre. Marketers today are vulnerable to the pitfalls of a high-churn media environment, that doesn’t make appropriate allowances for the specific requirement of a target cohort.

PayNearby Radio will help us beat some of these challenges. By ensuring tailored content for our retail community, the idea is to establish a meaningful two-way communication that holds their attention and engages them better. For retailers who lead a very busy life, and may not have the time and bandwidth for text, banner or video content, a world of information and entertainment will open up just by plugging in the ubiquitous ear-phones. The content is designed to be very simple, upfront and sharp so that we can relay the message easily to a wider audience in a non-intrusive engaged format. We will constantly innovate and partner with relevant stakeholders to bring in a medley of content that is relevant for this community. We believe this medium will play a crucial role in disseminating critical information like subsidy announcements, allowing for a deeper sense of credibility and grassroots connection through voice-based communication. Zidd Aage Badhne Ki!”

Click here to watch the launch video:

PayNearby launches ‘PayNearby Mall’ – a meta commerce platform for small businesses and consumers ahead of ONDC rollout

PayNearby, India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, today launched PayNearby Mall—a meta commerce platform to enable easy availability of good and services, in an assisted mode at the last mile. This will soon be integrated with the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) platform. With this initiative, PayNearby aims to upgrade every retailer, in its million+ active network, to benefit from the ongoing e-commerce revolution, including the ONDC platform.

Within hours of the launch, the company shared that more than 6000+ retailers have upgraded themselves into a mall. More than 100+ retailers have ordered over 250+ orders. The most popular categories included mobile phones and accessories, home appliances, groceries and textiles while many searched for two wheelers also. PayNearby Mall is envisioned as a meta-commerce platform that will empower every retailer and seller, from big merchants and e-commerce platforms to local sellers and small businesses (through ONDC) meet the unmet demand of their customers, both locally and across a wider market PAN India. It will help retailers expand their market, run a more profitable business with no additional working capital requirement and use technology to make all forms of services available at the last mile.

It will also benefit crores of consumers in Bharat with wider choices, giving them a seamless, affordable one-stop-shopping experience at a nearby store. Customers can walk into their nearest PayNearby store and with the help of the local retailer, discover any seller, product or service at the most optimal price point. It will enable an optimal demand and supply match, fuelling the growth of our local economies and overall financial health of our country.

Commenting on the development, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “With the past 18 months of work, we are finally thrilled to present PayNearby Mall, an initiative to elevate every trusted small store in Bharat into a super mall. With this feature, we look to empower local sellers and buyers and give them a user-friendly platform to discover products and sellers, compare prices, and make purchases with ease. It will help digitally overhaul small businesses gearing them towards a better livelihood and bringing them at par with the current times. Trust augmented.

With PayNearby Mall, e-commerce will now be accessible, easy and pocket-friendly, allowing retailers in Bharat to offer ‘Sab Kuchh’ from their stores. Retailers will no longer be limited by working capital, store size or shelf space. All they would need is their PayNearby/NeoDukaan app to offer worldwide inventory to their customers, supported by 50+ brands/ partners, at the click of a button. We will soon integrate with ONDC too, so that local goods and sellers can reach their full potential and serve the growing demands of ambitious and unstoppable Bharat at the last mile.

PayNearby Mall is an important step towards our vision of creating a truly digital ecosystem for retail in India. It comes at a time when the retail industry in India is undergoing a rapid transformation. It is a forerunner to our upcoming ONDC initiative, which will further democratise access to digital commerce for businesses of all sizes. We are excited about the potential of this platform to create value for our retail partners and customers alike. We believe that by empowering local retailers, we can accelerate the growth of the digital economy across Bharat and soon make ‘Digital India’ a reality. PayNearby Mall brings every retailer in the country an opportunity to succeed and actively contribute to India’s digital economy and fulfil their Zidd Aage Badhne Ki!”

55% of MSMEs use mobile hotspots to connect to the internet for day-to-day business operations: PayNearby Study

­­PayNearby releases its first edition of ‘MSME Digital Index’ – a detailed analysis of tech awareness among MSMEs in Bharat

  • 71% of MSMEs in Bharat use technology in some form for their day-to-day business operations
  • 80% MSMEs said that the adoption of digital technology has had a positive impact on their businesses and personal lives
  • Most digitally adept small business owners fall in the age group of 18-30 years
  • 32% earn more than ₹15,000 per month
  • Smartphones are the most preferred digital device among the MSMEs, followed by desktop/laptop
  • Accounting & Point of sale (POS) are the top software/applications used by MSMEs to manage their businesses
  • 65% chose English as their preferred language to understand technology and conduct business transactions
  • 30% said that cost was a deterrent while adopting technology and 28% grappled with poor internet connectivity
  • Facebook is the most popular social media app and YouTube the most preferred entertainment app
  • 57% of the respondents did not use any gaming apps on their smartphones

The MSME sector in India is on an ambitious growth curve and in recent years, there has been a progressive change in the mindsets of small business owners towards technology adoption. In an interesting insight, PayNearby, India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, today said that more than 71% Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in retail, use some form of digital technology for their day-to-day business operations. The report further highlighted that more than 80% of MSMEs admitted that the adoption of digital technology has had a positive impact on their businesses and personal lives.

The insight was shared as part of a detailed survey titled – MSME Digital Index 2023 – a Pan-India report showcasing technology consumption by MSMEs at the last mile, released by PayNearby today. In its first edition, the report was prepared basis a nationwide survey conducted by the company among 5,000+ MSMEs in the retail space (kirana stores, mobile recharge stores, medical stores, customer service point (CSPs), travel agents, among others), recording their tech awareness and tech consumption patterns in their professional and personal lives.

According to the survey, the small business owners within the age group of 18-30 years were the most digitally adept, with over 75% of this age bracket owning a smartphone to run their day-to-day business operations and accessing digital content through it. It was immediately followed by the age group 31-40 years. Notably, 32% of them citied that their monthly income is more than ₹15,000. The uptake of smartphones underlines the critical role played by the internet in helping bridge the infrastructure gap and drive tech inclusion at the last mile by onboarding MSMEs on the digital bandwagon.

Among all digital devices, smartphones were cited as the most popular category, with 68% of the users claiming them as their most preferred choice. 66% MSMEs claimed to use smartphones for business activities consuming 2GB -5GB of the internet in a day. More than 52% of these small businesses spend less than ₹500 per month on internet consumption. Thanks to the Digital India mission and the BharatNet initiative of the Government, internet penetration in Bharat has accelerated. It is now accessible to citizens at affordable prices, thus helping bridge the digital divide. In terms of connecting to the internet, approximately 55% cited that they used mobile hotspots to connect to the internet at work. This was followed by Wi-Fi routers at 30%. The use cases of ethernet cable and dongle were a mere 10% and 5%, respectively. 73% used mobile internet to connect to the internet at their homes.

The use of digital devices was primarily for work purposes, with 32% spending 4-6 hours on their phones. However, when it came to leisure activities like social media or online entertainment, the report noted that 60% were spending less than 3 hours. Among the social media apps, Facebook took the top slot with 27%, and YouTube was the most preferred entertainment app with 47% usage. Interestingly, 57% of the respondents said that they did not have gaming apps of any kind installed on their phones.

The report further stated that of all the tech-savvy MSMEs, a majority of 25% used accounting software, followed by POS software and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software at 20% and 17%, respectively, to manage their business operations. When asked about the purpose of the usage of digital devices, 25% used them for account keeping and payment acceptance, while 20% stated that technology was used to process transactions. It validates the need to create a thriving tech ecosystem to empower MSMEs so that they can be brought up the growth curve for a stronger India.

In the financial services category, Aadhaar banking and UPI were the two most popular banking services availed by MSMEs at the last mile. Additionally, WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business, cumulatively, were the most widely used messaging apps with 97% usage.

On being asked about the positive impact of technology on their businesses, 32% said that it has helped grow their business by improving efficiency in business operations and 28% said that with technology they have seen an increase in their sales and income. When it comes to the main challenges faced in using technology for business operations, 30% said that they could not afford the high cost of technology, and 29% grappled with poor internet connectivity. Remarkably, 65% chose English as their preferred language to understand technology and conduct business transactions, followed by Hindi at 24%.

Commenting on the report findings, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby, said, “The findings in the report are inspiring and emphasize the fact that Bharat is gearing to walk hand-in-hand with India. The digital gap in the country is gradually getting bridged. Riding on the back of the smartphones, internet and fintechs, MSMEs at the last mile are increasingly embracing tech. However, this is just the start. We need to create a strong eco-system where not only access to technology is made cheaper and easier, but also provide an infrastructure where people can be skilled and their tech inhibitions and apprehensions suitably addressed. For this, technology has to be form factor agnostic, easy-to-use, easy-to-manage and easy-to-scale.

At PayNearby, we focus on providing new-age technology solutions—such as providing data insights, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and machine learning (ML) – to help MSMEs in Bharat harness the full potential of tech deployment in their operations. Our innovative, tech-led Distribution-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform has encouraged small businesses to explore novel revenue streams, which has, in turn, fueled significant growth in the MSME sector. This digital transition will usher in a new era of commerce and create millions of livelihood opportunities in the hinterlands and small towns, thereby driving economic growth and social upliftment in the real Bharat.”

Commenting on the MSME Digital Index, Jayatri Dasgupta, CMO, PayNearby, said, “India is at the cusp of a tech revolution. However, for this to happen, MSMEs need the necessary tools to get inducted into this fast-moving economy. The MSME Digital Index is our effort to understand the uptake of technology in the MSME segment and highlight areas that need to evolve to bridge the digital divide in our industry.

While it is heartening to see that there is an uptake of technology, in some form, among MSMEs, much needs to be done on upskilling, connectivity and cost of infrastructure to make it more affordable and accessible at the last mile. The MSME report is an eye-opener as it will help us create the right solutions for this sector, in a form that is of most value to them. At PayNearby, our commitment to connect Bharat with India and bridge the digital divide remains stronger than ever.”

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YES Bank’s Saif Khan joins PayNearby as Chief Growth Officer

PayNearby, India’s largest branchless banking and digital network, announced the addition of Saif Khan to the executive team as Chief Growth Officer (CGO). The latest appointment is tactically aligned with the company’s ambitious plans to drive growth, through Distribution as-a-service (DaaS), across emerging businesses and channel partners. Saif will aid in accelerating and expanding PayNearby’s footprints by identifying market needs and opportunities to scale the business while delivering greater value to stakeholders. He will work in tandem with PayNearby’s sales team to achieve growth momentum on planned and new initiatives.

Saif is a seasoned business leader with 20+ years of experience in the banking industry. He comes with a proven track record of building and executing strategies that drive growth and scale businesses. He most recently served as the Country Head of Private Banking, YES Bank, where he was instrumental in conceptualising and implementing the Business Design of Private Wealth. Prior to his time at YES Bank, Saif worked with IndusInd Bank, ICICI Bank and Citibank across functions in branch banking and distribution roles and in a variety of leadership capacities. As PayNearby’s CGO, Saif’s endeavour would be to augment the company’s already solid business model and scale exponentially on the top line as well as the bottom, keeping the interest of all stakeholders and customers at heart. By enabling the best strategies to digitise Bharat and bridge the urban-rural divide, he will be responsible to make PayNearby the benchmarked financial service provider in the country.

Speaking on the appointment, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby said, “I am thrilled to welcome Saif into the PayNearby family. Saif will be a key player in rapidly growing our company to achieve our growth targets while gaining more reach at the last mile. At PayNearby, we are witnessing stellar progress, riding on the back of our cutting-edge, tech-led DaaS network and various product offerings designed to make Bharat financially and digitally empowered. Continuing our trajectory, we have plans to fast-track our progress while introducing new lines of business and product offerings, helmed by Saif. He shares a deep passion for our mission and has demonstrated a strong track record of transitioning businesses to full scale, which will be crucial as we enter the next phase of our journey to make India inclusive. We have an ambitious and aggressive growth plan in the coming months, and he is the right fit to make the impact and lead this initiative. Saif is a great addition to PayNearby’s future initiatives, and we look forward to achieving more with his expertise.”

Talking about the new role, Saif Khan, Chief Growth Officer, PayNearby, said, “PayNearby is on a swift growth path, and I feel honoured to be a part of this remarkable journey. We are on a mission to make financial and digital services available to everyone, everywhere, and with our DaaS network, we are taking high-end technology to the last mile. We are ready to move to the next stage of growth as we strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of all in Bharat and empower them. I am determined to help PayNearby reach even greater heights while fostering inclusive growth.”

‘Indian Sign Language (ISL) is crucial’, says PayNearby’s World Hearing Day campaign

PayNearby, India’s leading branchless banking and digital network, today released an awareness campaign on the occasion of “World Hearing Day”. The campaign promotes the importance of sign language and looks to spread awareness about the importance of maintaining good hearing health. It urges people to be aware and learn basic Indian Sign Language (ISL) gestures to communicate better with people who have hearing difficulties. It is in sync with World Health Organization’s (WHO) theme for 2023 – Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality!

According to WHO estimates, there are approximately 63 million people in India who are suffering from hearing impairment. Communication barriers can cause social isolation, exclusion, and discrimination, which can affect the mental health and well-being of people with hearing difficulties. Learning basic ISL gestures is an essential step towards breaking down these communication barriers and helping build inclusive and diverse workplaces. PayNearby’s campaign features Rahul Bhosale a PayNearby employee, who shows how easily everyone can communicate with him using ISL. A special colleague himself, Rahul shares common gestures in the video, including simple signs for common phrases such as ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’, and ‘goodbye’.

On the campaign, Jayatri Dasgupta, CMO, PayNearby, said, “Staying true to our brand philosophy ‘Zidd Aage Badhne Ki’, we have always stood and taken a stand for social causes. This campaign is reflective of that. We are an inclusive and diverse organization where we want all our colleagues to feel included. By featuring our colleague, Rahul, in this campaign, we want to send out a message that even with a disability, nothing is impossible. All it takes is empathy on our part and a little bit of sign language. All this can go a long way in facilitating communication with people with hearing difficulties and help create a more inclusive and accessible world for all.”

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