To make the use of digital cash more prevalent and convenient, a digital wallet user would soon be able to accept cash from the user of another e-wallet, because of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) tweaking its guidelines.
For example, a Paytm wallet user would soon be able to accept cash from a PhonePe wallet user.
Opening up the strings of digital wallets, the RBI on Wednesday said it would issue revised directions by October 11 to allow “inter-operability” among prepaid payment instruments (PPIs). These include digital wallets, prepaid cash coupons and prepaid telephone top-up cards. PPIs are a substitute for paper currency.
It is expected that PPIs can inter-operate within six months of the revised directions, the RBI said in its “Statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies”.
The RBI said the feedback received was examined and it was decided to rationalise the operational guidelines with a view to encouraging competition and strengthening security of operations, besides improving customer grievance redressal mechanisms.
The first guidelines for issuance and operation of PPIs came in April 2009 with the objective to create an ecosystem. In March, the RBI asked for feedback on the PPI industry. At present, two people using the same digital wallet can do transactions; in less than six months, people using digital wallets from different companies would be able to send and receive money from each other.
Companies are already making plans to cash in on the opportunity. Many said this would not only increase the places where the wallets could be used, but users might also migrate from one wallet to another.
“We believe this will allow users of all wallets to transfer their money to Paytm to access the largest set of use-cases and merchant points that Paytm has built,” Kiran Vasireddy, Paytm’s chief operating officer, said. “This should act as a strong boost for the digital payments ecosystem.”
Inter-operability has been one of the key challenges in increasing the adoption of digital payments in India as it limits the points where a person can use his/her wallet.
“RBI’s latest direction in this regard will provide a homogenous environment for the growth of mobile wallets,” Bipin Preet Singh, MobiKwik’s founder and CEO, said. “For the user, this means that they do not have to download another wallet if they already have MobiKwik. They can pay across the merchant network of any other PPI. This helps us widen our reach and brings enormous value to our business.”
Industry experts said the PPI segment might see five-fold growth in six months as it would not take much time for bigger players to revamp their systems. “Inter-operability is not so complicated. A bigger better company can do it in a month. The move will help the user base grow five times,” said Naveen Surya, chairman of the Payments Council of India.