With Tier I and Tier ll cities adapting quickly to digitization, the rural areas of the country are availing digital services through PayNearby and have covered 16,722 pin codes out of 19,000.
In an interview with BW Businessworld, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder & CEO, PayNearby discusses the opportunities in exploring rural India which is now going mobile-friendly. Financial institutions across the country, along with PayNearby, are focusing on delivering digital services to a large part of the nation.
What according to you are the biggest challenges for the retailers in India, especially post demonetization?
From our research and understanding of ground during and post demonetization, we understand the retail is evolving and retailers are catching up. The problem of cash availability and convenience of digital payments, enabled many consumers to start ordering to online / eCom players, thereby damaging the business flows of the mom-and-pop kirana shops. The situation has two elements to it. First is the capability to digitally service customers through online platforms providing the convenience of placing an order from Apps, getting AI-based recommendations, prices, offers, and delivery experience. Second is the mindset to adopt technology in the changing times. When we polled retailers during our research, we were delighted to get corroboration of the fact that the community is intelligent and sees value in upgrading with times. The fact that they are there to do business, they were able to see the point we made to enhance their business.
Many inputs received by us are purely value addition done by our early retailer partners who have taken efforts to help their community evolve. The core portion of our engine was conceived and designed by us, but the usability nuances of BuyNearby came from our retailer friends. Challenges have been solved through features for example, the location of customer, aggregating few orders, language barrier with transliteration/picture based orders and so on.
How can PayNearby increase digital spending in rural areas of India?
JAM trinity, the India stack is powerful and work being done by NPCI under the leadership team is an assurance of India transitioning from Krishi Pradhan Nation into Digital Pradhan nation. We have seen India leapfrogging into mobile phones instead of landlines, likewise, watching TV on mobiles rather than buying TV sets or listening to music on mobiles rather than buying CDs anymore. Many intermediary/past technologies will be surpassed by the Pratyakshamev Pramanan movement of India where AEPS platform and Aadhaar Pay built by NPCI, relayed to the masses by PayNearby. The delight is that this is the true auth module which is non-deniable by a customer and most secured payment option like tokenization for the digital-savvy user. India will surpass the cards, POS, mobile payments and leapfrog / retro into thumb-based payments again, but this time, digitally.
PayNearby App enables most of the financial services for most of the people with simple to use, assisted digital service platform. The system of records with easy-to-integrate architecture and APIs is serving as a go to market strategy for many partners like Insurance, NBFC, Micro Finance, FMCG companies.
Could you explain your key strategies and mediums to amplify digital transactions in the remote and rural regions of the country?
We are today present in 16,722 pin codes of the 19,000 pin codes and relay our services through 4 lakh retailers pan India. Our strategy to deepen has worked well and we have been able to service 4 crore customers till now on our platform. 11 of our 18 key services which will digitize India, are already live and people can today access these services in assisted mode at a retailer nearby. The remaining 7 and other modules which are evolving with time and learnings are in progress. We are able to offer these services to the common man at a local kirana shop, without occupying their shelf space or blocking their capitals.
Our retailer partners are already credible locals in the towns/villages where they serve and our financial and other digital services are not only bringing additional incomes to our partners, they bring smiles to the customers too. In a way, we are granularizing the Trust of Banks and taking to the common man in satchets. Soon at a retailer shop, one would be able to ask for 2 kg aaloo, 1 kg pyaaz and Rs. 100/- ka insurance.
How do you monetize your services? What are the opportunities that reflect profit in the avenues of digital lending and spending?
Monetization opportunities will come later. Right now our focus is on digitization. The clarity and focus needed to penetrate digital into heartlands of India is a must. If one does good work, one will end up making money. We come across monetization events and keep evaluating them for relevance. We do make money out of few of these good opportunities where we can add value in true sense and customer is happy paying.
How far has PayNearby grown in India? What are your expansion plans?
Our aim remains “Har Dukan Digital Pradhan”. You will agree that of the 1.50 crore shops in the country and another 1 crore commercial engagement enterprises, there are enough tracks available to relay our services. With the current 4 lakh registered retailers, we believe we would like to reach citizens through 50 lakh shops in the coming 2 years.
Where would you see the digital spending market of India in the next 5 years and how would PayNearby contribute in this journey?
We see India evolving from assisted service economy to self-service economy and we would want to be responsible for this good work. You would relate to the actual number of eCommerce in the country today. But indicatively, about 80% of eCom is cash on delivery. Probably 48% of this is return as well and 42% of the land mass in India is not serviced for cash on delivery. Bank branches are less than 2 lakh and similarly, the ATM count is around this number. Card payment POS too is not present beyond 15 lakh retailers. To my mind, India itself is a startup when it comes to Fintech opportunity. The population is a boon for making a solution viable sooner than the digitized nations. This time, India will pole vault into a leadership position with digital engagements which include payments only as one component.
Publication – Business World
Published Date – 14 March, 2019