The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Freedom from cash tyranny

Easy option

Mumbai, Jan. 21: It’s a product popularised by Square Inc, the start-up founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

And now India has its own plug-in device that can facilitate credit or debit cards transactions using their mobile phones or tablets — promising to usher in a huge revolution in mobile payments solution.

Made by Ezetap, a mobile-based payments service provider for emerging markets based in Bangalore, the product is a lightweight device that can be plugged into smartphones and tablets. While a credit or a debit card can be swiped on this device, the solution is integrated to the back-end system of businesses. The customer also gets a confirmation on his mobile phone after a successful transaction.

Citibank will be the first bank to introduce the solution in India in partnership with Ezetap. It is expected to benefit more than 32 crore card customers in the country, enabling them to make payments through their debt and credit cards at the point of payment.

The solution will be a win-win for both the consumer and the enterprise, says Anand Selvakesari, country business manager (global consumer group) at Citibank India.

If it catches fire, this solution will give customers virtual freedom from the tyranny of cash — and the scramble to stump up the exact change every time you need to close a small transaction at the neighbourhood store or the marketplace.

While merchant partners using the device for customer payments and collections will be given real time information during the payment and collection process, customers will also be able to make purchases, pay insurance premiums or buy movie and event tickets at the convenience of home or office with their cards.

Flipkart, Shoppers Stop, Bajaj Allianz, Vodafone and BookMyShow are some of the brands that are already testing and planning to use this payment solution across the country.

Abhijit Bose, CEO and co-founder Ezetap Mobile Solutions, said the device would be made in India and priced at just Rs 1,500. A Harvard Business School alumni, Bose was earlier director for telecommunications at Siebels Systems for the Asia Pacific market.

The company is also in talks with other entities that include banks that are looking to launch convenient mobile payment solutions.

Selvakesari indicated that Citibank would not be charging any additional amount from customers whose credit or debit cards are swiped on the device. Incidentally, Citibank India is the first country franchise within the group to launch the mobile payment solution.

There are around 700,000 credit or debit card terminals in India, far lower than the 5 million in China. Most small transactions in India are closed in cash and this has been one of the reasons why these payment solutions haven’t caught on. With the convenience that this device brings, Selvakesari said India had the potential to create anywhere between 10 million and 20 million acceptance points across industries over the next few years.

Square logged annual payment transactions worth $10 billion in the US last year.

Ezetap is funded by top investors, including the Social Capital Patnership, which is led by former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya and AngelPrime, a leading incubator.