RBI has been advocating the use of digital payments due to the coronavirus crisis. Do you see a rise in the adoption of digital payments as a result of this, specifically at the bottom of the pyramid?
Consumer confidence to embrace UPI as a form of payment has seen a consistent growth in the last few years, and for us, the majority of the people are actually from the smaller cities – 2 out of 3 transactions come from beyond the top 7 cities in India. With the Covid-19 crisis, and the lockdown that followed, consumer’s preference to do contactless payments has gone up for essential services like mobile recharges, utility bill payments, and buying things online, even though the total volume of UPI transactions fell.
Google recently released search trends for digital payments, and we have seen searches like “how to pay bills with UPI” types of queries in Indian languages are rising very fast. This is very encouraging and points to the future where we will see wider adoption of digital payments, and consumers will continue to opt to do more with digital payments as new user experiences come online.
Cyber fraud has been a matter of concern for many to migrate to digital platforms. A lot of measures have been taken by regulators, banks, and service providers to ensure safe transactions, however, such notorious actives still exist. What is your suggestion to the ecosystem on protecting data and regaining the trust of the users to make India a pioneer in digital payments?
The single most important factor in growing the overall adoption of digital payments is consumer trust – people want reliable, safe, and secure ways of transacting online. With UPI, India today has revolutionized the payments flow from bank to bank, and the value that players like us bring to this is the ability to make it simple and safe for people across the country to transact confidently. We have invested in advanced and sophisticated fraud and security detection technology that ensures all transactions are safe and if our systems detect anything unusual, we alert our users, so on the product side, we have the solutions that work.
What we have seen though are cases where unsuspecting users have fallen into the trap of social engineering. And it is incumbent upon us as an industry to come together to ensure that people are as alert when using digital payments as they are when dealing with cash.
We have partnered and invested in efforts like the ‘UPI Chalega’ campaign by the NPCI, and the Digital Payments Abhiyaan which is an industry-wide undertaking, and our own campaign are some of the ways the industry is trying to ensure that users are alert and don’t fall prey to fraudsters.
According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, the Indian digital payments industry is estimated to touch $500 billion by 2020, contributing 15 percent to the country’s GDP. The Indian start-up ecosystem and microtransactions are expected to play a crucial role in enabling this industry as it can leverage the opportunities by addressing a multitude of challenges. What are the steps taken by your organization to create a robust digital payment ecosystem to move towards a cash-lite economy?
India has made huge progress on connectivity with improved infrastructure and low-cost data, which has enabled over half-billion Indians to come online. And we feel very privileged that we have had the opportunity to contribute to this journey. But access is only useful if there are helpful products that users can gain from. We’re thoughtfully building products that can help Indians get more out of the Internet.
We have launched a number of India first products and continue to build solutions that work for everyone. GPay, which was launched as Tez in India is one example of this approach built on top of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). The success of GPay with both users and merchants has shown that we can bring a unique set of experiences to solve for the needs of the payments ecosystem. We see ourselves as a complementary partner to India’s well-established banking ecosystem and are working on a unique set of solutions to move towards the vision of a cash-lite economy.
About the respondent
Sajith Sivanandan is the Business Head – Google Pay and Next Billion Users initiative, India