Why India’s Hike Messaging App Adding Payment Services Matters

Hike messenger, a popular phone messaging service app in India, has recently decided to introduce payment services on its platform.

The payment service includes both peer to peer payments that do not require bank accounts and use in-app wallets, and bank to bank payments using the UPI platform introduced by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). In doing this, Hike has emulated the services provided by WeChat, a Chinese messaging app owned by Tencent. The latter is also an investor in Hike. Such payments cater to both ad hoc requirements between app users, and special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries on which people often send cash if they are not able to give a present.

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Mobile Banking Usage Increases in India

A recent study from FIS has revealed an increase in the use of mobile devices and digital banking channels in India due to demonetisation.

The report, Performance Against Customer Expectations (PACE), surveyed 1000 banking consumers in India and found that more than 60% of the respondents have used mobile devices in 2017 to check their account balances, view recent transactions, pay bills or transfer funds. The finding is up from 39% of survey respondents in 2016 and 34% in 2015.

Other key findings of the survey include:
• Nearly 18% of the respondents use their primary bank’s credit cards exclusively;
• The importance of the primary bank providing digital payment is on the rise;
• 30% say they use mobile apps to carry out their payments, compared to cash, cheque or cards;
• Gen Y consumers want to better connect with their banks at their convenience, at any time and from anywhere;
• The biggest pain point for banked Gen Y is getting time to physically visit a branch;
• Gen Y are less satisfied than older generations with their current banking providers.

The research also uncovers the fact that Indian banks continue to underperform their peers in other countries in terms of meeting their customers’ expectations. Indian financial institutions scored 75% in the 2017 PACE study, 1% higher than in 2016, but 7% below the global average PACE score.

Wirecard and Western Union Streamline Money Transfer In India

Wirecard has announced an agreement with Weizmann Forex, Western Union`s agent in India, to provide money transfers in India.

The service will be released to thousands of locations across all major cities and districts in India, as a part of the 150,000-strong SmartShop agent network of Wirecard in India. These agents provide access to financial services and retail-assisted ecommerce to people who do not have internet access, smartphones or bank accounts.

Through the SmartShop agent network, people will be able to receive remittances from Western Union even in rural areas of India, immediately after the money has been wired by the sender. Locations that the company is adding Western Union Money Transfer services to will also include travel agencies, foreign exchange houses and locations that currently focus on domestic remittances.

According to PR Newswire, India’s digital payments market is expected to more than double to reach USD 470 billion by 2020, making India the world’s largest recipient of remittances (World Bank estimates approximately USD 62.7 billion had been sent to India in 2016).

UPI Use Is On The Rise In India

The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has grown by 100 times in usage since the network was launched in April 2016.

Although transactions on BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money), the government-funded app, have decreased, use of private UPI-linked apps such as PhonePe and Chillr has surged. Banks and private institutions have taken the lead in demonetizing India’s economy through integration with the UPI network, reports The Economic Times.

Data from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) shows that UPI transactions have increased to 9.2 million in May from 6.9 million in April 2017 and 92,000 in August 2016.

UPI transactions made through the BHIM app have dropped to 42% in May from 44% in April 2017, but it saw an increase to 46% in the value of the transactions. The app has been downloaded 20 million times since launch, but use has slowed down in recent months, mainly due to the expanding UPI network which links together 50 banks.

Another factor that slowed down BHIM use is the entrance of new competitors, such as Samsung Pay, on the market, who adopted the payments platform and integrated their services with it. Other companies like Android Pay and Stripe are also planning to launch their mobile payments services in India through the UPI network.

Indian Banks Choose Microsoft Azure Cloud to Host Their Blockchain

A group of India-based banking companies including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and DCB Bank has opted for Microsoft Azure as their cloud blockchain provider.

All 20 members of the BankChain consortium, which completed its KYC, AML/CTF platform testing in May 2016, will use Microsoft’s Azure blockchain to host the nodes for transactions on their distributed ledger systems.

India-based Primechain Technologies will build the first project to use Azure, which will consist of a closed, permissioned blockchain. The tool will allow clients to share know-your-customer (KYC), anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing data.

Several new financial and fintech entities, including JP Morgan, Emercoin and Bitshares have been added to Micrososft’s Azure cloud computing platform. The companies will use the new available blockchain technology as a ‘sandbox’ development environment where partners can interact and experiment with different technologies.