The Seamless & Touchless Digital Payment Experience for SMEs

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App-based touchless payments will help fill the digital payments gap in a safe, secure, and affordable manner. Businesses can today accept touchless payments with an application download upon completion of KYC requirements. In an exclusive conversation with SMEStreet, Mr. Seshadri Kulkarni, CEO, DigitSecure explains trends that are influencing SMEs specifically with respect to digital payments landscape around them. Here are the edited excerpts:

What are the biggest challenges SMEs are facing now, and how will technology adjust to the new needs of the SMEs?

Seshadri Kulkarni: Currently, there are several challenges faced by Indian SMEs including GST filing and financing. Businesses have to file their GST returns every month wherein automated GST calculation- and filing- based solutions can bring about a tangible difference. It can reduce a significant workload of SMEs. Such solutions can be easily integrated to the digital payments data of a business and can also enhance its digital footprint for financing-related needs.

Acceptance of digital payments can help an SME to maintain sales history for financial institutions to review and underwrite loans. App-based touchless payments will help fill the digital payments gap in a safe, secure, anf affordable manner. Businesses can today accept touchless payments with an application download upon completion of KYC requirements.  This application-based payments solutions also gives SMEs real-time view of daily sales, thereby saving time on accounts and getting a true reflection of business performance.

Seshadri Kulkarni, DigitSecure, SMEStreet, Faiz Askari, Interview

Many different sectors are adapting to contactless options, but what does contactless mean for SMEs, especially during the festive season?

Seshadri Kulkarni: Being one of the most celebrated festivals in India, there will inevitably be a large number of people out shopping in the neighborhood and central markets for purchases.  They also want to exercise social distancing to ensure health safety.  The small businesses will have to make additional effort to incorporate practices that give consumers the comfort of shopping in a safe and hygienic environment.  Small businesses should find ways to minimize contact between and with customers during the entire shopping activity.  According to recent global surveys Visa and Mastercard have conducted, customers are increasingly switching to touchless payments – contactless and QR payments – for health safety reasons and convenience. Small businesses should start accepting touchless payments to not just enhance payment experience but also to address customers’ health safety concerns.  This will preclude handling cash, which could potentially be tainted, and also help customers complete payment without handing the card over to cashier.   It ensures safety for both customers and cashiers.

Digital payments, including UPI and other eWallets, are increasingly becoming the payment method of choice amongst a broad spectrum of consumers in India. Consumer spending at shops, including those in shopping complexes and malls, has fallen drastically after the COVID-19 outbreak due to fear of contagion and lockdown restrictions.

There were visible signs of recovery for small businesses in August and September. 

How DigitSecure is redefining the contactless payments space in India?

Seshadri Kulkarni: DigitSecure addresses the need for an affordable payment solution with an app-first SoftPoS platform that meets PCI security standards and regulatory requirements while facilitating the growing preference for touchless payments. Our primary objective is to disrupt the SME segment by displacing the high-cost, dedicated payment terminals.  Financial institutions can white-label our O/S and device-agnostic DUNN App or seamlessly integrate into their own app.  Large enterprise merchants can also do the same.  

With social distancing restrictions, what role are digital payment channels playing in business continuity?

Seshadri Kulkarni: There is no denying the fact that COVID-19 has changed the way we work, shop, and communicate. Notions of speed, convenience, and safety are being re-examined and redefined. Finding the balance between the need to protect ourselves and the need to interact to maintain our daily lives is a challenge faced by everyone. 

Achieving this balance means raising awareness about the choices we have. That includes how we choose to pay — by using cash, touching a PoS (point of sale) machine when using a card, or going contactless with a card or mobile device. As many countries have imposed lockdowns, the majority of consumers turned to digital payments for necessary purchases. This crisis has changed the payments landscape, and the industry has a critical role to play in the COVID-19 containment efforts. According to a recent consumer survey, the usage of digital payments among Indian consumers in the current scenario was the highest around the globe. It has further revealed that Indians will adopt digital payments more actively over the next six to nine months.

What are your business priorities for the next year?

Seshadri Kulkarni: The past 12 months, we had focused our energies in building a safe, secure and future-proof platform for accepting touchless payments. We have also established significant partnerships with global payment networks and leading banks in India and UAE. In the next 12 months, our priority is to expand into 10 – 12 markets in Asia-Pacific and CEMEA regions through bank and merchant partnerships.  We will continue to strengthen our product factoring in SME needs for financing, loyalty, and sales promotions.

We aim to empower SMEs to accept touchless payments the same day in a simple, affordable, safe, and secure manner. 

Which are the industry segments that you are targeting for digital payment adoption?

 

Seshadri Kulkarni: DigitSecure SoftPoS platform supports diverse use cases across industries. The capabilities we have built serve SMEs, government, and large enterprise businesses.  We estimate that at least 25% of the 40M+ SMEs in India alone qualify for, but less than 1% of them accept card payments because of friction in documentation and KYC verification, onboarding, and high cost of terminals.  We aim to empower SMEs to accept touchless payments the same day in a simple, affordable, safe, and secure manner. 

We are targeting government institutions across the country that are focused on digitizing payments and building smart cities.  Our ability to support biometric verification supplementing digital payments offer governments one-stop for extending multiple services to citizens.

Finally, we are targeting enterprise businesses in transportation, logistics and delivery segments with large numbers of cash transactions. DigitSecure has built unique capabilities to meet specific needs for these segments including seamless integration into their apps, reconciliation, and single device for accepting payments for multiple merchants across categories.

 

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