It’s not exactly reassuring to have Google as a competitor even if you are Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet company, or Airtel, the country’s largest telecom operator. Paytm, Airtel, and MobiKwik, among others, are trying to grab a sizeable chunk of mobile payments’ users, but they will soon have fight $659 billion-pound gorilla, Alphabet Inc, owner of Google and other Google subsidiaries.
AP Hota, CEO and managing director of the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), told reporters at conference in Bengaluru on Monday that Google has almost completed testing its UPI (Unified Payments Interface)-based payment service, which allows fast and easy transfer of money from one bank account to another through mobile.
Google isn’t alone, others like Amazon, Uber and Whatsapp are also in the fray. But Google might be the first international company to launch a UPI-based payment system.
“We are always looking for ways to make it easy for people to pay with their mobile devices, for instance Android Pay in some countries, and continually evaluating ways to expand those capabilities to the next billion users,” said a Google spokesperson.
Eyeing the next billion
Since demonetisation, the economic situation that sucked out 86% of the country’s currency, Paytm and other mobile wallet companies have added millions of users and lakhs of merchants on its platform.
For Google, getting the next billion users to use the internet is part of its agenda to drive revenue for digital advertising and payments. Emerging countries like India are a critical part of the “next billion” theme.
Google’s entry into payments, along with global competitors like Amazon and Whatsapp, can disrupt the market that Paytm, MobiKwik and others have built. For example, Amazon, which is already breathing down Flipkart’s neck to become India’s largest ecommerce company, is planning to launch mobile recharges and bill payments through Amazon Pay.
While Google is developing an India-specific app for UPI-enabled transactions, according to Hota, Uber, on the other hand, wants to allow its users to pay drivers using their choice of UPI-linked accounts. In the next phase, it will have a wallet integrated into the Uber app. Ola, Uber’s local rival, has already integrated UPI into Ola Money, its mobile wallet to pay drivers.
“The nation has taken a target of achieving 25 billion digital payments transactions mark in 2017-18. Last year, the volume of digital payments was 9.2 billion of which 3.5 billion had been contributed by the NPCI. This year, we are aiming to contribute about 11 billion digital transactions,” Hota said in a statement.
According to the NPCI, already one crore UPI transactions worth Rs 3,000 crore have been made, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.