Is India ready for the mobile wallet industry's tidal surge?

Retailer Media talked to its CEO, Ankur Saxena, who discussed the reasons behind the wallet industry's success (or the lack of it), India as a market and the future (growth) plans.
Ankur Saxena, CEO, eOxigen

The mobile wallet space has a huge ground to cover, considering the total number of mobile subscribers in the country: 900 million. Although the Internet-on-mobile lovers still fret at the mention of transacting through mobile, adoption to wallets is meant to surge.According to TechSci Research report, “India Mobile Wallet Market Opportunities & Forecast, 2020”, mobile wallet market in India is projected to reach US$ 6.6 billion by 2020. Amidst the rising excitement in the industry and plausible speculation from the customer’s end, there is flurry of activity.

Oxigen Wallet, a company that claims to be India’s first non-bank Mobile wallet app, approved by RBI, has over 150 million customers and allows them to send and receive money through social networking sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. From launching a campaign around the upcoming India-South Africa’s The Mahatma Gandhi-Nelson Mandela Series, for which the brand is known to set about Rs 100 crore as a marketing budget, to having a physical retail network that connects the unbanked rural population, the Wallet App is leveraging the best of online and offline commerce.

Retailer Media talked to its CEO, Ankur Saxena, who discussed the reasons behind the wallet industry’s success (or the lack of it), India as a market and the future (growth) plans.

Excerpts from the talk ...

Why would a person with a Debit or a Credit card need a mobile wallet?
Mobile wallets are essentially digital wallets in which you can store your money. It is accessible online through a mobile wallet website, or increasingly as smart phone apps. They have a winning hand over debit cards/credit cards any day. In addition to this convenience, the speed of doing the transaction with a mobile wallet is a benefit.
You do not need to enter the personal details each time you transact. You experience a faster checkout and transactions are just a click away. Additionally, those who don’t have a credit card or a debit card can go to their nearest wallet top up retailer, if they have a physical presence offline and get their wallet loaded by paying cash over the counter. Since each transaction is password protected and since the wallet is not linked to any bank account, there is no risk of exposing bank details.

The adoption rate is quite less even after mobile wallets offering to solve so many purposes of the customer. Why is that?
There are a number of reasons behind the low adoption of mobile wallets. There is a massive unbanked population of smartphone users that could be a huge user base for mobile wallets per say. People are either not aware of the technology itself, or are not fully ready to give up their physical wallets. They should know the fact that the transactions done on a digital wallet are fully secured, as security may also be one of their concerns. This lack of awareness about the benefits of mobile wallets is hindering the overall market growth.

What are your company’s wallet adoption numbers – has it increased or have the numbers gone down?
In the last one year we have seen over 10x growth for Oxigen wallet; post our ‘Give Selfishly’ campaign we saw a major spike in our user base. We are designing our campaigns based on use cases which is not only educating the public but also giving them a good experience about the wallet usage. Today, we have over 7 million wallets and are growing at an exponential rate.

Who is your target audience?
Our target audience universally appeals catering to the needs of the urban youth to the migrant population. With Oxigen wallet, we have services that cater to the needs of the urban lot as a one-stop payment solution provider for online shopping, money transfer, recharges and bill payments. We are the only company to have the largest offline network in the mobile wallets industry with its physical presence at 2,00,000 retail touch points, which caters to the needs of the rural and rural urban pockets lot, which is unbanked and wants a safe, secure, reliable and instant method to send money home.

What lies ahead for you in the mobile wallet space as a whole?
Mobiles are set to become predominant platforms in view of the smartphone population touching 100 million+ users including Android, Windows & iOS. As per a recent study by IAMAI, total Internet users have already touched 300+ million mark. This gives us reason to believe that Mobile Money and Mobile Commerce will dominate the use cases for mobile payments in 2015-2016.
The market for digital wallets is still in its infancy and is expected to reach $90 billion by 2017. Today’s mobile phone users need to unlock the vast potential of the smartphone itself. They need to discover that apart from messaging and social media, the utility of smartphones are manifold. Once the users start seeing the benefits of these m-wallets, they will become more receptive and accepting. This will give the industry players further scope to explore new features like partnering for loyalty programmes, coupons, product discovery, gift cards, and promotions to create powerful and new brand experiences in the mobile moments of their customers. And most importantly, as aforesaid, the success lies in connecting the consumer with offline to online (O2O) and vice versa.

Ankur Saxena