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Worldline Rise 2021 India chapter is a global initiative powered by Worldline. The recently concluded event was based on 8th October 2021 was based on the theme ‘Driving Growth Through Innovation In Payments’ where industry leaders from across the spectrum of the payment value chain came together to discuss key developments in the ecosystem. Payment is one of the fastest-growing industries that thrive on innovation. We explore diverse aspects of this theme through insightful sessions and panel discussions.
Worldline hosted a panel discussion on Soft POS- an ideal acceptance solution for a less-cash ecosystem. Moderator Avinash Luthria (SVP and Business Head - Financial Institutions, Worldline) conversed with panellists - Thakur Bhaskar (Sr. Executive VP - Head Liability Products, Customer Program and Merchant Acquiring Business, Kotak Mahindra Bank), Mohit Bedi (SVP and Business Head - Acquiring and Commercial Cards, Axis Bank), Rajeev Kumar (SVP and Head Market Development - South Asia, MasterCard), and Yohan Wijesiriwardane (CEO and Co-founder PAYable, Sri Lanka). Here are the key takeaways from the discussion.
Soft POS is an ideal payment acceptance solution for small and micro-merchants wherein they can accept card transactions on an NFC enabled phone. It’s an innovative product available at a relatively low cost for merchants that are proving to be effective, especially considering RBI's recent guidelines related to approval of transactions worth ₹ 5000 without the need for a PIN.
Both payment aggregators and payment processors are looking to leverage the use of Soft POS. However, there are certain technical barriers in the journey that need to be overcome. These gaps can only be bridged through collaboration. Soft POS is bound to take off with the help of several telecom companies working in the background. A new chapter of payment acceptance in a mobile-first world is yet to be unfolded. All in all, it's a win-win situation for merchants, banks, and payment service providers who are involved.
Sri Lanka is a unique market with about 19 million credit and debit pieces, 50% of which are NFC enabled. By rolling out the Soft POS initiative to replace MPOS, the country is looking to make itself 100% NFC enabled. Soft POS is also empowering merchants in the ecosystem by enabling easy and affordable payment options like tap to phone, QR enabled payments, and card at doorstep payments, thereby eliminating the barriers in adoption.
With the nation being highly dependent on NFC enabled cards and the regulatory body (Central Bank of Sri Lanka) pushing for a cashless economy, Soft POS is bound to succeed. In such a conducive environment, Soft POS is said to become the sole payment acceptance solution and the go-to device in day-to-day transactions.
Since it’s a cost-effective device, there’s no resistance in payment acceptance, especially in rural ‘Bharat’ as opposed to urban India. Micro-merchants from tier 1, 2, and 3 cities of India are increasingly adopting the use of such a mobile-first acceptance device as Soft POS. With the inclusion of cash registers, value-added services, and khata (micro-accounts used for making payments), it has turned into a highly evolved, all-encompassing product in India.
While India’s large-scale adoption of Soft POS is evident, its adoption at a global level also looks inevitable. Considering the number of networks driving adoption of such payment acceptance mechanisms, banks fast-tracking the growth, and fintech companies helping on the technological front, 10-15% penetration is predicted in the digital payments space. Nonetheless, Soft POS is going to be a potential game-changer in the payment acceptance space.