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SapientNitro’s Alka Mahajan Chawla on mobile wallet adoption in India

Marketers must acknowledge the fact that the mobile-first India does not have the infrastructure to serve a billion laptops, but it is well on its way to serving data on one billion mobile phones. Mobile is  also the only connected device for many consumers in Tier 2, Tier 3 cities, and many rural parts of India. Tracking the sentiment, Alka Mahajan Chawla, Director of Mobility Practice at SapientNitro India shares her thoughts on mobile wallet oriented economy emerging in the Indian marketing scenario.

Currently, India clocks at around 180 million mobile data subscribers and a market size of around USD 2 billion, according to Forrester forecasts and the market will reach USD 19 billion by 2019.

Ms Chawla feels that the adoption of mobile wallets has been remarkable in India in the last couple of years. “Almost every brand that operates via the mobile channel has an associated mobile wallet to simplify payments. Not just online but offline and physical stores/services have also accepted mobile wallets in a big way,” said Ms Chawla.

Nevertheless, there are several obstacles in the mobile wallet story in India. Concerns such as shift in the behavioural patterns of Indian consumer and migration to digital cash, security and virus threats, tie-ups with offline merchant to fuel the payment ecosystem, and strict guidelines by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), restrict the growth of mobile wallet in India, Ms Chawla added.

However, mobile wallet has its set of merits too and Ms Chawla highlighted the most prominent one taking into account the marketing environment of a country like India. “In India, where credit card adoption is low and many services, including online retailers, process a lot of cash-based transactions, mobile wallet concept has helped overcome a lot of challenges. India has about 1.2 billion people while it is estimated to have only 450 million bank accounts and around 800 million mobile phones. Wallets provide greater reliability than cash, without requiring users to have bank accounts,” she added.

Going forward, on the digital marketing front, Ms Chawla pointed out that mobile wallets are redefining what it means to be omni-channel. “Mobile wallets are the starting point for financial inclusion and its adoption will make it happen. We have a huge unbanked population in India and mobile wallets will enable that group of consumers to shop online,” she opined.

Affordable mobile data tariffs , government’s initiative to fuel the mobile story in the India and blur the digital gap in the country, and efforts towards reducing black money and cash-dependencies of Indians are expected to give the much need boost to the mobile wallet environment in India.

Furthermore, payment banks set up will increase financial inclusion by providing small savings accounts, payment/remittance services to migrant labour, low income households, small businesses, other unorganised sector entities and other users by enabling high volume-low value transactions in deposits and payments/remittance services in a secured technology-driven environment, the mobile expert added.

“With mobile money pioneers such as Paytm, Mobikwik, Oxigen and Freecharge and another 40 more applying to RBI for licence for payment banking in India, we are the helm of a payment revolution in India. And these companies have already created a huge loyalty customer base for them by offering cashbacks for using mobile wallets both online and offline,” Ms Chawla concluded.