Bitcoins First Emerging Payments Conference in India with @bensonsamuel

Mobilecozy.com

Mobilecozy came into the payments market earlier this year and have been pursuing an effective & steady drive to network and promote their white label mPOS product. They are currently in a pre-launch phase.

Sainath Gupta is founder & CEO of MobileCozy. An entrepreneur and businessman from a remarkably early age, Sainath is forging a path through rough regulated waters to simplify card payments.

Sainath Gupta, CEO Of Mobilecozy @sainathgupta

As with any software company, Mobilecozy is also working on a SaaS project with a European client. The project they are working on is an NFC + Bitcoin initiative. As a consultant to their Bitcoin project, I was requested to present Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin & Paradigm shifts in the Indian Payments ecosystem at the summit as part of a panel discussion.

 

The Event

 

Knowledgefaber

Knowledgefaber is facts based consulting and research firm. With technology advancements, consumers today can pay for their transactions in more than one way. But 97% of people in India still complete their transactions using cash. This is seen by them as a huge opportunity for new methods & technologies for payments and is the reason behind this summit.

The summit aims to bring together experts from Prepaid, M payments, other payment players, BFSI, Payment tech enablers & software companies and discuss the way ahead.

The conference had a mix of traditional bankers and emerging payments companies in the audience.

 

The Panel Discussion

The topics of discussion were:

  • Emergence of new payment methods – How the increasing use and adoption of payment methods like prepaid cards, m-payments ( Mobile card readers, NFC based payment systems, mobile wallets etc.), electronic payment gateways and e-wallets are challenging incumbent methods (credit/debit cards etc.)
  • Payment landscape in developed v/s emerging countries – How the affluence and technology maturity in various countries affect the choices of payment methods (Special emphasis on India)
  • Which payment methods will face least resistance in terms of consumer adoption and why – globally and in India?
  • Which segment of new payment methods will see maximum competition? What will be the niche areas to target for new entrants?
  • How various entities/stakeholders, currently active in payment industries have to evolve to stay relevant? (Banks, Visa/Mastercard, Payment gateway companies, merchants etc.)
  • Conclusion: Identifying next winners in the payment industry – globally and in India.

 

I was honored to be a part of the panel which included:

Vipul Vohra – Engagement Manager at Knowledgefaber & Moderator

Neel Chowdhury – Co-founder and COO, Giftloop and Former CMO, Obopay

Kunnal Sharma – Business Head, Global Remittances, TimesofMoney

Bhavin Satikunvar – AVP, Internet and mobile banking, Dhanlaxmi Bank

 

Vipul Vohra started the discussion by presenting us with a few numbers from the global cash based economies.

  • USA has a cash usage of 60%.
  • EU has a cash usage of 78%.
  • India stands at 97% cash usage.

This outlines the number of opportunities for players who want to involve in the payments landscape. Electronic & Mobile wallets, gateways and micropayments are forming a strong area of opportunity.

Kunnal Sharma

Speaking about the global trends in payments, Kunnal painted a picture of the payment landscape in the US. He also spoke about mPesa in Kenya and how the landscape was shifting in India. He spoke about the history of payments and the evolutionary path.

He felt that people were not ready for Mobile in India and going mobile will not solve too many immediate problems. He had an approach which was to respond to demand rather than to create demand. He attempted to drop a few case studies similar to Brett Kings Bank 2.0 in terms of future bankers of our youth.

He spoke about the lack of infrastructure and the poor 3G networks in India. He mentioned that most phones in Japan were waterproof because most youth bring their phones to the shower. He felt that the RBI was progressive, supportive and willing to enable more players in the money market.

He reacted negatively when he heard about Bitcoin being open source. He mentioned “If trust and convenience is there, the payment industry lets you make money. I am of the firm opinion and I don’t really like the players who come to the market and say that it’s free to the consumer. No, the consumer wants to pay money. The payment industry need to make money at the end of the day and if we start to discount products, then the industry is not going to make money.”

Neel Choudhary @neelspeak

A thought leader in India today, Neel is the Co-Founder and COO for Giftloop. A social payments company, Giftloop is in a pre-launch stage. His vision for emerging payments rests with Mobile & Social payments.

He was vocal about the success of mPesa in Kenya and spoke of the issues regarding India. Adoption and Awareness are two areas of opportunity in India. He stressed on the security of Mobile Payments, when he stated correctly, ‘is Safer than Cash’. He feels that cash will never die, however transactions with cash will reduce.

Mobile payments will take off; it is only a matter of time. He feels strongly that mobile payments and mobile money will explode in India due to its 1.2B population. Neel rightly pointed out that technology builds are not a high cost problem these days.

He predicts social payments with mobile as a principal driver in payments. Collaboration will play a pivotal role in bringing in newer payment methods to challenge cash.

Bhavin Satikunvar

A banking veteran, Bhavin brought forward several consumer level problems such as ease of use and adoption. He maintained a non-opinionated stance and spoke about a progressive India. He mentioned areas of awareness as well. Customer on boarding is also a problem being faced by Banks today.

Bhavin rightly pointed out that the B2B payments market is yet to explode in India as well, and there is a dire requirement for it. The interchange charge reduction was also proposed by Bhavin.

He praised the RBI (Reserve Bank of India), mentioning that they were extremely cooperative and are working closely with Banks to encourage more initiatives to cover the unbanked population in India.

Benson Samuel

I presented my views of unbanked Indians. At 41% of the population unbanked, it is a huge opportunity for Cryptocurrencies and emerging payment methods. I spoke of the viral growth of Bitcoin in the recent years and its inevitable entry into India.

I mentioned the paradigm shift across the planet, bringing forth new technologies in banking such as Dwolla, Carrier billers and even the cash based network in Pakistan got a mention. Mobile money is inevitable. It is safer, faster, cheaper and more pervasive than cash or cards.

I spun a few heads when I went through a checklist of Bitcoins features.

  • No POS required.
  • No Chargebacks
  • Open Source
  • Over US $ 100mn in circulation in just 3 years
  • Instant Money Transfer
  • Powerful P2P network
  • Global Ledger Book
  • No Double Spending
  • No counterfeiting

I finished my bit by evangelizing the movement of even lower income individuals from feature phones to Smartphone’s. Bitcoin & Mobile are here to stay was my prediction.

Closing

Inspiring to hear that the RBI is open yet cautious. ‘RBI is the most progressive regulator in the world.’ was stated by all my co-panelists. I would most certainly want to see what they have in store for Bitcoin in the coming years.

Needless to say that Bitcoin is way ahead of its time in India. The traditional bankers were certainly not ready for Bitcoin, and the emerging Payment companies had a smile when they heard about it.

Our 3rd Meetup in Bangalore

We wound up our 3rd successful Meetup with 5 Bitcoiners last Thursday. We discussed easy ways to get merchants to adopt Bitcoin and several points of true value were discussed during our meeting. A few monetary systems were discussed post which, we were teased with the knowledge that a working INR – BTC exchange was around the corner.

Post the Meetup I received a mail from a friend in a neighboring state requesting me to represent his company at an Emerging Payments Summit in Bangalore. Due to a last minute shift in plans, the CEO of the progressive mPOS solution company called Mobilecozy was unable to make it to the event.

 

Links

Mobilecozy pre-launch Site – www.mobilecozy.com

Knowledgefaber Conference Sitehttp://knowledgefaber.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=74&Itemid=42

Giftloop Websitewww.giftloop.it

Bangalore Bitcoin Meetup Page: http://www.meetup.com/Bitcoin-Bangalore-Meetup-Group/

 

 

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