Spice Money : Bolstering India’ S Digital Payments Industry

CIO Vendor Digital Payments in India have been growing exponentially over the past few years owing to the increase in smartphone adoption, availability of favorable regulatory policies and a thriving and innovative fintech ecosystem, which together are supporting a leapfrog growth. According to research reports, the Indian Digital Payments market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 53 percent and reach USD 1 trillion in value by 2023. Apart from the interoperable payment platforms and other emerging innovations that are driving this shift, the Government of India has also been playing a significant role in helping the country increase its cashless transactions. As a part of the ‘Digital India’ campaign, the Indian government has been promoting and encouraging various modes of digital payments including internet banking, mobile wallets, and digital payment apps, in a bid to make India a digitally empowered cashless economy.

However, despite these dedicated efforts and the flexibility and convenience offered by these payment methods, digital payments are yet to witness widespread adoption in India, particularly in rural India where only 16 percent of customers opt for cashless transactions. This disparity in adoption can be mainly attributed to factors such as variation in literacy levels, changing language preferences, and the lack of adequate awareness and bandwidth which prevent rural customers from moving to digital payments. Moreover, consumers are also faced with information security challenges as well as a lack of trust in digital transaction service providers and are in need of assistance to remove the adoption complexities and simplify the on-boarding onto digital platforms.

Perfectly understanding these challenges and demands, Noida headquartered Spice Money steps forward to address them with a comprehensive suite of Financial and Payments services, to improve the effectiveness of Digital Payments in rural India. Incepted in 2014, Spice Money, a business unit of Spice Digital, has been focused on leveraging technology to enable its customers with ‘Mini Bank’ branches in the form of next door Kirana stores. With an objective to bridge the gap between the served and underserved sections of society, the company has built a one-stop shop solution portfolio of seamless financial services to bring banking to the customers’ doorsteps. Today, the company stands as one of India’s largest tech-enabled Hyper Local Payments Network which serves 4 million unique customers and processes over 30 million transactions annually through its network of 70,000 transacting agents.

Spice Money has established a strong presence in India with nearly 85 percent of its cumulative Customer Service Points (CSPs) in semi-urban and rural India and dense footprints in the BIMARU states. Besides a strong presence, the company is also backed by strong tech DNA and a scalable, modular and secure technology platform architecture through which it offers the relevant solutions and superior user experiences to its customers. Spice Money has also created a Cloud Infrastructure with cutting edge technologies to empower its 100,000 + VLEs (Village Level Entrepreneur) with products and services pertinent to them.

The company’s expansive portfolio of offerings includes services such as Cash Deposit, Cash Withdrawal, Balance Inquiry, Bill Payments, Aadhaar Enabled Services, Air Time Recharge, POS Services, and Railway Ticketing Services, offered through its authorized agents. Spice Money has also partnered with leading Banking Institutions across the country such as SBI, Federal Bank, ICICI Bank, Yes Bank, RBL Bank, IndusInd and Kotak Mahindra, to deliver its services more seamlessly.

Targeting Semi-urban and Rural India
When it comes to delivering Digital Payments solutions to Indian customers, Spice Money specifically targets urban-rural and rural India where the company caters to a wide range of segments including government executives, professionals such as teachers and doctors, local traders, retailers, agriculture workers, and those receiving subsidy support from the government. Recognizing that these segments lack traditional financial products and services relevant to them, the company offers hyper local payments with cash-in & cash-out, bill payments, airtime recharge and mPoS services.
Moreover, as traditional asset-heavy banking infrastructures have been unable to create a feasible reach and relevance in these parts of India which are spread out with much lesser density, the company has built an asset-lite model of using the existing infrastructure coupled with technology, to solve the problems of reach and relevance. “While some banks have a rural presence, they are typically focused on the urban customers and do not provide the banking and financial service infrastructures with relevant products for these areas,” opines Saket Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, Spice Money. “At Spice Money, our core value proposition is reach, assistance and relevance.
In alignment with these objectives, we have created our asset-lite model which enables us to create reach to the next door of our customer. We have also devised a unique ‘Phygital’ (digital with a human assist) business model through which we have been able to establish more trust with our customers and enable them to deposit, withdraw and remit money more effortlessly,” he adds.

“At Spice Money, Our Core Value Proposition Is Reach, Assistance And Relevance. In Alignment With These Objectives, We Have Created Our Asset-Lite Model Which Enables Us To Create Reach To The Next Door Of Our Customer”

Spice Money’s main growth drivers in this segment include Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) - Micro ATMs using Aadhaar number as payment address, Domestic Money transfer (DMT) – Cash based money transfer and deposit to any bank account in India, Bill Pay – Anytime, anywhere bill payments including Mobile, DTH, and utility bills for electricity, water and gas, and mPOS- Payments using debit and credit cards.

Simplifying Transactions with Aadhaar-based Payment
The Banking Industry today has been simplifying transactions with Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AEPS) which have emerged as simple, secure and user-friendly platforms that not only enable seamless financial transactions but also offer benefits such as cardless/PIN-less transactions, lifetime validity and the lack of requirement for smart phones. Endeavoring to bring these benefits to customers, Spice Money has introduced its Aadhaar-based Digital Payment Solution - Spice Money Aadhaar Pay, to enable agents to accept payments for goods and services from customers with Aadhaar seeded bank accounts. The payment solution which has a host of features, offers ‘Nil’ MDR for transactions below INR 2000, thereby making payments economical for both customers and agents. Moreover, the app’s requirements for customers as well as merchants are very minimal with customers being required to use an Aadhaar Number and a bank account linked with the Aadhaar, while the merchant requirements include a smartphone, bank account, a reliable internet connection and a finger print scanner.

With these unique features, Spice Money Aadhaar Pay facilitates fund collection from customers in a seamless manner, while also ensuring safe and secure transactions at a very low transaction charge. The app also allows instant account-to-account fund transfer to increase customer satisfaction, reduce time consumption and eliminate cash handling costs and risks. “One of the biggest advantages of Spice Money Aadhaar Pay is its ability to address the challenge of literacy across rural areas. With customers having to only submit their Aadhaar number, bank name and fingerprint, the app completely eliminates the need for PINs and passwords as well as the usage of credit/debit cards, thereby removing literacy and awareness challenges that often accompany these processes,” adds Saket.

Moving towards Financial Inclusion and Literacy
Since its inception in 2014, Spice Money has been involved in a number of prestigious projects including a partnership with IRCTC to launch ticket booking as well as an association with YES Bank to facilitate Domestic Money Transfer. The company also introduced its own Micro-ATM and Bill Pay services in 2017, as well as the mPOS service in 2018, which earned Spice Money the NPCI National Payments Excellence Award. Through such engagements, Spice Money has gained extensive industry expertise in not only understanding different customer challenges but also addressing them with relevant solutions. This expertise combined with the technical adeptness of the company’s team, has helped Spice Money emerge as a distinguished solution provider in the Digital Payments domain.

Moving forward, the company has devised an elaborate blueprint for the future, where Spice Money intends to move from the basic product line of cash-in and cash-out products, to launch the next level of products from savings to investment, insurance and credit. “We have built phenomenal transactional data for our channel to be able to become a part of the formal credit economy, and hope to move to the next level of financial inclusion and literacy in the coming years,” signs off Saket.