Carrying small change is always a trouble in India. Esp. Years of inflation has resulted in a user having to carry 60 One Rupee coins to buy something worth a dollar. Some of the smaller denomination coins have been smelted because the metal in them was worth more. Cash-handling in India is so cumbersome that the owner often has to work as a cashier rather than a minimum wager as in most developed countries.
All this makes India an ideal market for a tap and pay solution. Also with the country having one of the highest cellphone tower installations and one of the cheapest telecom costs the market is ideal. Digital payments also install a healthy transparency & billing volume visibility for the owner making it difficult for the employees to pilfer the cash-register.
Many companies & educational institutions have been using ID cards for the cash-less payment in their premises. The RFID chip in the card, photograph of the user & the monthly salary/settlement cycle makes it an ideal. However due to integration issues and the fact that most ids are not compatible with each other (across different organization) this solution has limited applicability outside the premises.
Mobo-Money is TechM initiative to solve this problem. They have launched a sticker which can be affixed anywhere (mobile/id cards etc.) and have received RBI’s approval as a wallet. Hence can be used as universal payment device for all petty transaction.
The product is still in its alpha launch stage and is being tested in the Tech Mahindra (TechM) premises across the nation. The few issues that I faced were:
1. Manual process: Rather than automation reducing the human effort involved in billing, there are still no self-help Kiosk for automated recharge/online recharge
2. The POS does not have a printing mechanism. This makes results in additional attention of the cashier and not saving their time.
3. Unlike the metro cards, these RFID don’t have the balance information. This creates an issue because the server connectivity (over cellphone network) has a latency similar to that seen in Credit card payments… but it is a lot more frustrating when you are waiting for a 10/- (20 cent) payment.
4. Too many sms are going around (on each loading and on discharge). This would be adding a lot to the transaction cost.
5. One of the cafeteria merchant was complaining about the delay in payment. Most vendors and food stall operators work on daily cash & carry model with working capital of 1 day only. Any delay at this end would hurt their business quite bad.
6. Lack of overdraft/credit facility would mean that there would be an additional burden of keeping track of the balance and last minute recharges.
7. Although they are talking of features like online recharge & mobile recharge, I was unable to use them. Also I faced some issue in checking my balance online.
8. Classic chicken and egg situation. The utility/value of this RFID chip increases when more merchants are integrated. Right now I doubt it has any use beyond the cafeteria but things might change by next year.