Terminals are no longer needed in India. You can now just install an app to accept payments

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What happens when you peek out from the European business environment and have a look at what’s going on in Asian countries? Well, you can find massive differences and fascinating business solutions.

Have you ever wondered  how fintechs cope with a population of almost 1.4 billion people, massively growing economies and millions of small merchants? We did.

Marcel Klimo, the host of Inside the Vacuum, had a chance to jump on a call with Jajit Bhattacharya, CEO of the cutting edge Fintech startup, Zerone Microsystems. Marcel met Jajit during the Virtual Fintech Fair in Hong Kong  and had a chance to ask about the market Zerone Microsystems operates in.

Number of terminals versus number of payment cards

There is no doubt that market conditions in India are completely different than in European countries. With almost 1.4 billion Indian citizens, can you guess the number of card holders? The number has recently rose thanks to the government intervention in the last few years. For people that didn’t own a bank account before, around 360 million new accounts were created. Altogether, there are around 850 million debit card holders and 50 million credit card holders in India.

 ‘So there are 900 million card owners, which means practically every adult in India has a card and therefore they can make a payment as long as there is a payment terminal on the other side.’ – Jajit Bhattacharya

And this is where the issue arises. Even though the number of merchants is incredibly high in India, the penetration of payment terminals is only 5%. Hard to believe. Why is that? Because small merchants such as taxi drivers or doctors, who also need to accept card payments as it’s crucial for their business, are not officially counted as merchants.

So how do they cope with such a high number of payment cards and low number of terminals?

Quite a challenging situation for fintechs, right? This is where Zerone Microsystems comes to the scene and takes advantage of the fact that these days nearly everyone owns a smartphone.

They developed an application that enables everyone who install it to accept payments.

‘We convert a smartphone into a payment acceptance POS, and it’s able to accept payments from any digital phone.’ – Jajit Bhattacharya

This way, every small merchant, taxi driver, carpenter or fruit seller, can accept payments and run their business.

Android over iOS

For now, the focus of Zerone Microsystems is on Android as this operating system has the biggest market share. The expansion to more platforms is already planned since  iOS application usage was requested by the market. So far, the application is usable only in India, but according to Jaijit, they are working on extending their business to Singapore. They also keep looking for other business opportunities. As every country has its own regulations, the company realizes that partnerships might be the right step to take.

‘In fact, we are looking forward to partnerships in other countries where the payment aggregator work is done by a partner and we provide the technical.’ – Jajit Bhattacharya


If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear more interesting stories of founders, technology providers, or vendors from the fintech, payments, and banking industry, don’t forget to subscribe to Inside the Vacuum on one of the major podcasting platforms. If you have any recommendations for more guests, please don’t hesitate to contact Marcel Klimo.

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