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Indian citizen is being pushed willy nilly into embracing the e-wallet

Bangalore, November 24 2016: Amidst the  hassle and pain of having to  push and shove in unending queues  for hours on end,  to   get back a fraction of our own hard earned money, there was a brighter moment or two.  
The infinitely patient aam aadmi  applauded the government's  move to flush out  black money, even as the same government  visited  needless agony on millions of citizens, through its  poor planning for demonetization.
Yet the innate jugaad  or frugal engineering of  ordinary Indians   surfaced here and there to  sustain  small businesses for whom cash was king. Nowhere more so than in Pune. A PTI report highlighted that  Laxman Kachi a  tea seller, in the Sangvi area,  faced with  zero  customers,  harnessed technology to  get back into business.  He  signed up  to register as a merchant with  an e-wallet service  so that customers -- at least those who themselves patronized the same service-- could buy his tea again. From zilch, his business grew again to some 600-700 rupees a day: not great but enough to survive.
In an unintended side effect the government's  ham handed arrangements  in banks and ATMs  has  spurred popular acceptance of cashless e-payments in a way no amount of  normal marketing could have achieved.  |
The advantage of the  half dozen or so e-wallet apps available in India is that you don't need a debit card, credit card or access to an  internet banking password for making payment  You  need a way of loading your e-wallet   ofcourse and that is easiest done  by an online transfer. But once your wallet is loaded, you can make a variety of payments at merchants,  taxis,   theatres,   restaurants  as well as paying almost all kinds of monthly utility bills.
But  one  caution:   Each e-wallet brand has links with a fixed number of enterprises that  accept payment. Some are primarily for mobile recharge  and TV bill payments.  Also  you have to lock up your money in the wallet --and once the current crises is over  -- in 50 days as the PM claims --  will you still use the e-wallet?
There are in fact 3 types of wallets:|
1. Closed.  This can be used only for one merchant: like Flipkart,  Olacab, Jabong etc
2.  Semi closed:  All e-wallets listed below   fall in this category: They  work at multiple but not at all merchant sites.
3.  Open. These are created by banks  ( HDFC Chillar, ICICI Pockets, SBI Chillar, DBS Digibank,   ICICI Pockets etc) and additionally can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs through a physical card  ( hardly a plus point right now!). All of them are now part of government's Universal Payments Interface.
Some Indian e-wallets
Paytm. Possibly the most widely used and has the largest tie ups with merchants
PayUMoney.   Offers fixed discounts on payments .Claims over 1 lakh merchants
MobiKwik claims 25 million users; has recently taken a lot of grocery chains and food outlests on board
Oxigen  is one of the first in this business. Money can be transferred to any mobile number  -- which is great for small vendors and friends.
FreeCharge as the name indicates was primarily a "recharge with benefits" service  -- but it has expanded into other  vendors.




    


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