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SoftPOS Is Mobile First, Mobile-Only Acceptance Solution
Deepak Chandnani, Managing Director, Worldline South Asia & Middle East tells Ashish Sinha of BW Businessworld explains the feature of Soft POS and much more.
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The lockdown situation has changed and forced people to resort to online modes for payment. Worldline India recently partnered with Mastercard India, Axis Bank Ltd. to launch a digital point-of-sale solution, SoftPOS to help offline merchants and kirana stores accept payments using their smartphones. Deepak Chandnani, Managing Director, Worldline South Asia & Middle East tells Ashish Sinha of BW Businessworld explains the feature of Soft POS and much more. Edited Excerpts:
What is the vision & mission of SoftPOS application? Please elaborate how it will change the on-ground scenario for small businesses?
In India, although we have over 900 million card holders in the country, about 80% of purchases are still executed in cash. One of the reasons is that there are only around 5 million POS terminals to accept payments through cards. Over the years, while consumers were empowered with several payment modes, number of merchants capable of accepting digital payments did not rise significantly and its reach primarily limited to cities. Hence there is a need for more innovative and alternative solutions at merchant locations to bridge this gap. SoftPOS application comes as a classic use case that can contribute to a great extent thanks to growing number of smart phones and internet connectivity. The idea was to build a mobile application that will not only facilitate card transactions but also cater to emerging payment modes, especially in tier II, III cities and below. By simply installing the application, local merchants can be on-boarded in the digital payments ecosystem and offer options to consumers to pay digitally.
Has the pandemic forced the launch or this was the original timeline for the launch
Contactless payment technology has been gradually picking up in the country. We collaborated with Mastercard and Axis bank about 10 months ago and developed several features and value added services while designing the app. We envisioned it to be a futuristic solution that will be relevant for years to come. Coincidently, it has gained distinct prominence now due to pandemic as merchants and customers prefer digital payments, especially contactless payments due to pandemic.
Please explain in detail how the SoftPOS application operates?
SoftPOS is a mobile first, mobile-only acceptance solution that works on all NFC enabled Android smartphones. We’ve built an app with high focus on merchant UX to provide a seamless way to collect payment and we will be distributing it as a white labeled solution via our partner banks and other partners in the merchant acquiring space. The contactless payments acceptance through ‘Tap on Phone’ feature is the stand out feature which is fully compliant with existing regulatory restrictions of accepting contactless payments without Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA) up to Rs. 2,000 and is currently certified with individual schemes under the scheme specific pilot program guidelines. It helps as majority of transactions at small retail stores are under Rs. 2000. We also plan to provide the tap on phone core capabilities as a standalone offering for partners who would want to integrate it within their existing merchant app. Special focus has been on the merchant on-boarding experience. It is entirely DIY (Do It Yourself) in nature so one can download, install and register seamlessly and start using the application in a matter of minutes.
How will SoftPOS benefit the Kirana, small store owners, any cost benefits?
As SoftPOS enables smartphones to be used as POS devices, it offers an asset-less card acceptance solution for all micro-merchants and SMEs and eliminates the need for them to invest in a traditional POS device. Kirana store owners are empowered with multiple payment acceptance modes likes BQR, UPI, SMS Link Pay in addition to cards so that they can facilitate all type of payments that are preferred by customers. The app supports multiple regional languages that ensure ease in its usage. Apart from this, when merchants come in ambit of formal payments ecosystem they also improve their credit worthiness.
With the introduction of SoftPOS, is there any change or impact on the regular Point of Sale industry (Long-term impact)
As mentioned earlier, number of POS terminals is still very low in India. The country needs more solutions from acquiring standpoint like SoftPOS, BQR, and UPI etc. to cater to increasing number of digital payment users. Traditional POS terminals are also being upgraded to accept contactless transactions. On the other hand, there is an increasing demand for Android based POS terminals as well. At this stage SoftPOS will only contribute to the ecosystem rather than creating any negative impact on other existing acquiring solutions.
What are the additional features of the application for a merchant and his customers?
We analysed current collection behavior of small merchants and introduced features in the app like E-Khata that records customer level credit ledgers and also send reminders for collections to the merchant and Cash Register that can record cash transactions and makes it convenient for the merchant to keep a track of all collections. The merchant also has an access to reports section to view transaction details and also to initiate void and refund requests. Moreover there is a feature called Online Dukaan which creates a virtual store front and catalogue of merchant’s inventory so that customers can make online purchases. We’ve intentionally provided features which invite the merchant to use the app as much as possible and convert their day to day business operations from offline to digital.
What are the after sales support services that Worldline provides for the application? Are there any additional fee?
Worldline provides technical and operational support to banks and merchants and addresses their queries at no additional fee or a minimal fee, depending on the situation. We also help resolve their issues should they face any difficulties regarding settlement, merchant payout and other operational queries.
How is this SoftPOS different from those of the competitors?
We focused exclusively on merchant experience to ensure ease of use and also provided features like cash, e-khaata which brings a digital experience for a traditionally offline method of managing receivables. Features like online dukaan help merchant become more digitally present. Such features make this solution unique.
Your plan going forward with stakeholders, partners for SoftPOS?
Multiple banks have expressed their interest to leverage this asset-less acquiring solution and features and we will continue to provide value to our partners as well as merchants.