Why did I decide to build Sutradhar?

I started working on building my start-up Sutradhar almost a year back. Not a single day has passed when people have not asked me, “why I chose to create Sutradhar and not some fintech?” Not an unexpected question, considering I have been a part of banking and fintech ecosystem in varying capacity for good 15 years.

When I decided to start my entrepreneurial journey, building a fintech was the first thought that crossed my find. I brainstormed multiple Fintech ideas with potential co-founders and investors. I almost zeroed in on an idea, which had few supporters, but then something happened.

I always wanted to be a storyteller, having written my first play when I was 10 years old. I never stopped writing since then. Somewhere along the way I even wrote screenplays, hoping that some day movies will be made on my stories.

This was an opportunity to work on something that would bring real joy to me, something that I wanted to do and I decided to grab this opportunity. People who know me well enough can tell you about my love to History and Mythology. So somehow building Sutradhar started to look like a much better thing to do than building a Fintech.

As any entrepreneur would tell you, the first successful pitch you make for your start-up is usually to your co-founder. If you can manage to find someone else who believes in your idea so much that he is ready to take the same risks you are taking to make it work, you have won your first battle. So, I made a call to my friend for 18 years and told him what I wanted to build. It’s the same person who had passed on multiple pitches from my side in the past. This time it took around ten minutes and he was on board. In fact being someone who has been tracking consumer internet and commerce space for many years, he pointed out the massive business opportunity that can be captured by introducing community and commerce.

Thus, started the journey to build Sutradhar, first of its kind platform dedicated for stories from ancient Indian literature.

One of the most important thing that separates humans from other species and can be held responsible of our survival and dominance is our ability of construct stories. Stories are powerful and has been used to make or break civilizations across generations.

We are world’s oldest surviving civilization and by virtue of that, we also have an extremely rich repository of stories which have been passed on across many generations. These stories have defined every aspect of our lives right from the words we use to festivals we celebrate. Even things we do in our day-today lives can find their roots in these stories.

Do you know why earth is called Prithvi? Did you know that time taken to blink is called Nimish? Did you know that the red light in the sky just before sunrise is called Arunima? Why do we celebrate Dhanteras? What is the story behind Kumbh mela? Why Godavari river is called Ganga of the south?

There are millions of such questions with millions of stories. These stories are key to our cultural heritage and they must be told to everyone. That is the objective I had in mind when I decided to build Sutradhar instead of building a Fintech.

I hope with blessings from everyone we will succeed in our objective. You can download our app by clicking here. The app is currently for Android users only, iPhone user can watch some of our stories through our website or youtube channel.

Building Sutradhar

For last one year I have been busy building Sutradhar. It’s a platform for stories from Bhartiya Itihas and Mythology. Our ancient literature and oral folklore tradition is extremely rich and full of entertaining stories. At Sutradhar we are attempting to bring these stories to limelight by delivering them to your mobile phone.

I urge all of you to give it a try. Android users can download our app here.

We haven’t yet launched an iPhone app, but don’t feel disheartened; because you can subscribe to our youtube channel where we post some of our stories.

Here is one such story we did recently. Do check it out.

Conversation with a fraudster: Apparently I won an SUV on some Amazon Prime Lottery

Had the most amazing conversation just now. Brace yourself and read this:

Received a call from an unknown number telling me I have won lucky draw of Amazon company and have won a Tata Safari.

The generous caller gave me two options, either opt for the car or get the cash equivalent to the value of the car.

Since now I am in Gurgaon now, like any other person living here, I opted for the SUV.

The caller asks me to send my photograph and Aadhaar copy over WhatsApp and pay 8,000 Rs as processing charges.

At this point I asked the caller, “din me kitne logon ko aap aise bewakoof bana lete ho?”

The caller replied, “10-12.”

Me: Sahi hai boss, din ka 80K se 1L tak bana lete ho matlab.

Caller: Nahi. Dena bhi padta hai naa.

Me: Police ko? Kitna dete ho?

Caller: Din ka 10K.

Me: Matlab police bhi mili hui hai?

Caller: Police to 5 Rs me bik jaye, hum to 10K dete hain din ka.

Me: Aise gareebon ko lootna band karo. Nahi kisi din dande padenge.

Caller: Kaon marega dande. Police hi humare sath hai. Ab unse upar kaon hai?

Me: Police ke upar bhi hain log. Lootna acchi baat nahi hai.

Caller: Sir ab aap ek baat batao, abhi ek din ek vakeel ne hume 1L rupaye diye. Ab wo sabko lootta hoga. Humne usko loot liya to kya galat kiya.

Me: Hume to mat looto. Humari sab mehnat ki kamai hai.

Caller: Ab aapka number aaya to humne call kar diya. Aap aache admi lag rahe hain, warna loot to hum lete hi.

Me: Samjhdar aadmi ko aise lootna aasaan kaam nahi hai. Bewakoofon ko hi loot sakte ho. Ab tum Amazon bhi to dhang se bol nahi paate ho.

Caller: Aap manoge nahi kitne bewakoof hai. Vakeel se lakh rupaye loote hi nah humne.

This went on for some time and the caller kept justifying himself and was confident that he is doing nothing wrong and nobody can harm him. So I terminated the call wishing him all the best.

My only advice to anyone receiving such calls – Don’t Overestimate Your Luck.

ProTalks : Fireside Chat with Gaurav Tripathi

Join the Fireside Chat featuring Gaurav Tiwari, the founder of Sutradhar which is building an ecosystem to support storytellers focused on telling stories from Indian mythology and ancient history, legends and folklores.
Earlier he held senior roles at various banks with a focus on FinTech products and investments.

Protalks is a series hosted by Gaurav Tripathi to feature professionals who can inspire others.

Register here for FREE: https://bit.ly/36Vumw6

Save the date – 28th November 2020| Sunday| 06:00 pm

Protalks #firesidechat #superpro #entrepreneur #business #webinar #live #discussions #covid19 #technology

Facebook Acquired Minority Stake in Jio – My Views

First thing I came to know in the morning today, after I managed to figure out it was actually morning and not afternoon, was that Facebook has acquired 9.99% stake in Jio; making them the largest minority stake holder in Jio. Afterwords I spent the entire day reading tweets and news reports talking about how this is the greatest thing to have happened to India’s digital ecosystem since the launch of Jio itself and how this can potentially be the digital moment India has been waiting for. Many talked about how this can help Facebook, while other spoke about the benefits Jio will make from this deal.

Few obvious things people pointed out, how Jio can sort out Whatsapp Pay’s troubles in going beyond pilot stage by pulling the weight of Mukesh Bhai (as some tried to suggest), while few meant that Jio’s massive cloud infrastructure can be taken advantage of. As this article from 8th Feb suggests that Whatsapp had already cleared the permission hurdle and was on its way towards a phase-wise launch of Whatsapp Pay in India. They would have moved with or without this deal; selecting Jio Cloud as storage partner will now have added advantage.

Then there were others who talked about how this could mean that we can now finally have India’s version of WeChat. Airtel has been trying to do that through Hike messenger for years with very little success. Even Jio has been pushing their own Jio Chat, which is an exact copy of WeChat since much before the launch of Jio, with very little success. The one mammoth disadvantage these earlier two attempts by these Telcos, was that they were competing against Whatsapp. Whatsapp has built their entire loyal user base based on the simplicity it offers and people were finding other alternatives too cluttered for the base function of messaging as compared to Whatsapp and didn’t move, despite these apps offering so many other features and functions.

One thing very few people deny that Indian consumer is extremely value conscious and doesn’t mind using multiple apps for same functions depending on, which is offering better value at that time. This is one of the reasons there is so much overlap between customer base of PayTM, PhonePe and GooglePay and these apps have so far found it difficult to build a loyal customer base. Now comes the question of adding additional functions to Whatsapp and make it into a super-app capitalizing on its loyal customer base. Well, you can try, however if you think it will see as much success as WeChat in China, you must be dreaming. India doesn’t want a WeChat. Stop pushing it down our throats.

Jio has their homegrown apps for almost everything the apps are being used for, be it payment (Jio Money), chat (Jio Chat), reading (Jio Mags), OTT (Jio Cinema), Music (Jio Saavn), Education (Embibe), E-commerce (AJIO); there are more. The idea is to tell you that they have an app for everything and they are all copies of the leading apps in that particular category barring a few exceptions which they have not built but acquired. Yet, none of these apps are market leaders in their respective categories despite the massive distribution advantage Jio telecom brings to the table. Very simple reason for this is, unlike telco, there is no friction when it comes to selecting the app you want to use for any of the other services. A customer finds these apps pre-installed and he/she tries to use them only to realize that there is a better alternative he/she was either already using or can switch to and promptly discards the Jio’s versions of apps.

The point I am trying to make here is that you can make an app; you can even push the app to consumer’s mobile phones, however you cannot force them to use that app for a prolonged period of time unless it offers better value than the next available alternative. This cannot be created by just copying the best available option in the app-store.

You can click here to read about my prediction on WhatsApp Pay.

Another extension of above argument it looking at it as a massive Fintech play encompassing other Financial services beyond payments. The opportunity clearly is there, and it will depend on execution. What I mean by this is that they need to think beyond copying Chinese models and build something inherently Indian. They clearly have the resources to do so. They also have a very robust distribution channel, very superior to what anyone else has. All they need is the right product and execution strategy and they can clearly become unstoppable.

Last point, which I believe is the real game-changer is combining Facebook’s online strengths with Jio’s offline presence. Together they can completely transform the O2O game. Jio has sellers and they are working on enhancing that network, combine it with the massive customer base that Facebook brings to the mix and it can build a highly efficient low cost O2O marketplace that any other player would find difficult to compete with. The only problem I see with this though is that till now Facebook has spent massive efforts on teaching the customer a behavior of constant scrolling, which is not suited for selling anything to the customer. In order to sell things customer needs to instinctively switch to browsing behavior. An Instagram could be a better place to sell stuff, however I have never used it so, it will be very difficult for me to predict how it would pan-out.

In the end there is one clear area I would suggest Facebook and Jio should together work on and that is figuring out how to do push sale without making the customer uncomfortable. Simply put, you should ask a customer to buy something, when you know he is looking for that thing. So far nobody has been able to crack this. (In my last post about Google Debit Card, I had briefly mentioned about Google potentially attempting to do something like that.) If they can crack this, it will make them the most preferred player to buy the Financial Services products from.

I am, like everyone else going to keep a close eye on the developments to see, which direction they are headed. I just wish they don’t try to convert WhatsApp into WeChat. I may have to then start looking for an alternative to WhatsApp, of which there are none at the moment. Is Telegram there yet?

Banking Industry’s Response to RBI’s Moratorium on Loan Deferment Proposal

Follow up to earlier post clarifying RBI’s loan deferment memorandum, this post by @bhartiya_abhi summarizes the response of leading banks.

Presenting the summary and analysis of the response of 7 banks of India (SBI, ICICI, HDFC, PNB HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered) in response to RBI deferment option. While each bank has a separate policy these are the highlights according to me.

  1. Out of 7 banks only 2 have allowed automatic deferment of loans
  2. Credit card option has been given by very few banks and even they discourage using this option
  3. SBI made a U turn for automatic deferment
  4. ICICI has the most relaxed criteria for loan deferment
  5. All the foreign banks have very strict criteria for availing this option

I have also provided the source for my analysis. For any confusion please refer the bank sources.

Bank response to RBI deferment option

As part of COVID-19 regulatory package, RBI had rolled out a notification: RBI/2019-20/186 dated March 27, 2020, to reduce the burden of debt servicing caused due to disruptions in business on account of the COVID 19 pandemic and to ensure continuity of business. Following this announcement banks have started rolling their individual policies. Since capturing the policy of each bank would be very difficult and lengthy article I have tried to capture these 7 prominent banks (4 Indian banks and 3 foreign banks).

The response of the banks is varied and assymetric but one thing is common. All the banks want to avoid delay in credit card payments. Another surprise in the list is the U turn taken by SBI which had initially promised to defer the loans automatically. Each of these banks have a special condition attached for some loan. So if you have a loan/credit card from these banks please read it. I have tried to cover the points to the best of my understanding but please refer to the links provided for each bank for further understanding.

I have covered the following banks and the default option for the loans is as follows. Default option means what would happen if you don’t take any action or don’t contact your bank.

Bank nameDefault option for term loans
ICICIEMI is deferred
HDFCEMI will continue
SBIEMI will continue
PNBEMI will continue
HSBCEMI will continue
Standard CharteredEMI is deferred
CitibankEMI will continue
  1. ICICI

The moratorium policy can be downloaded from this link (https://www.icicibank.com/managed-assets/docs/personal/COVID-regulatory-package-FAQs.pdf)

The default option is that most of the term loans (list provided in the pdf above) will be deferred unless customers go for opt out of the moratorium. People can opt out by sending a sms – for these term loans. The number has not been provided in the guideline.

For Term loans

  • The Interest on all these loans will keep accruing and EMI will remain the same. This will result in increase of tenure.
  • For CC and overdraft facility all the interest accumulated will be payable on 1st June 2020.
  • There is no benefit for those who have paid their EMI in March
  • There is no extension of moratorium if currently going
  • There is no late fees for availing the moratorium

For Credit Cards

  • For credit card you have to opt in for moratorium
  • All unpaid amount added in Jun 2020 bill

For EMI on debit card people need to opt in to avail the moratorium option

  • HDFC bank

The HDFC bank moratorium option can been studied in detail from the link  (https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/borrow/hdfc-bank-loan-emi-moratorium-terms-conditions-and-charges/articleshow/74925989.cms)

For term loans there is an Opt in facility which means the instalments will continue if you do not contact the bank. If you don’t pay the instalment till 30th May then its assumed you want moratorium. To avail the option you have to call the bank numbers and inform them about wanting moratorium.

Separate call needs to be made for each facility. This means if you have multiple loans and you want the moratorium option for more than one loan then you need to call separately for each facility.

There is no credit for installment paid in March so all those who have paid in March can avail this facility for 2 months only.

If you want this option for credit card also then don’t pay and stop auto pay. Otherwise the banks will keep the option. The bank strongly urges its customer to pay whatever they can to avoid heavy interest.

  • SBI

SBI has actually changed its policy from the statements provided in media. It has changed from automatic deferment to opt in policy, so the bank seems to have second thoughts on its initial policy.

You can read more about the deferment guidelines here – https://www.livemint.com/money/personal-finance/how-sbi-customers-can-apply-for-emi-extension-11585737001144.html

To stop the EMI for term loans one needs to go here- https://www.sbi.co.in/stopemi

All term loan customers need to be apply for loan. The tenure can be extended by 3 months if availed for all 3 months.

The customers need to send email to bank to stop NACH. Refund of the March EMI is also possible by request.

The extension is only for term loans and not for credit cards.

  • PNB

The loan moratorium option needs to be opted in to avail the facility.

PNB has provided moratorium option for all Retail loans are typically home loans, personal loans, education loans, auto and any loans that have a fixed tenure. Which means that credit cards have been excluded by PNB also.

More details can be found from the below links


  • In case of housing loans the tenure will be shifted by the months for which moratorium option is taken. Which means that the EMI will be increased to compensate for the non payment of instalments.
  • There is no penalty if no payment is made upto 30th May 2020. Which means people who missed payment in March area also included.
  • Once you have availed the option then you can’t pay in between.
  • Credit cards are not covered under this scheme

Most importantly all your loans are deferred if you opt for one so please be sure you want this option for all your mails.

  • HSBC

The default option is to continue the instalments so one needs to apply for moratorium. HSBC has the most stringent criteria of all the 7 banks that I analysed.


The option exists for Home Loans (excluding Smart Home Loans), Loans against property (excluding Smart Loan against Property) and Personal Loans for its Wealth and Personal Banking (WPB) customers.

Some products like smart home loan not covered – These are the home loans which has OD facility.

Credit cards are not covered under this option

One can only apply online for the moratorium.

They will vet the eligibility. The moratorium is not applicable for everyone. Basic conditions are as follows

There basic eligibility criteria for being eligible for moratorium under this scheme are:

i. Loans disbursed or balances generated post 1 March 2020 are not eligible.

ii. You should not be overdue on any instalments or payments due to HSBC India as of 29 March 2020.

iii. All details need to correctly and completely filled in the application form.

For the selected loan the tenure of the loan will increase and EMI will be constant.

The criteria looks the strongest of all the bank norms that I have analysed and ensures that a very few would be eligible for this option

  • Standard Chartered

There is no separate request required from the applicants. Standard Chartered Bank shall be deferring EMIs during the moratorium period falling between April 2020 and May 31, 2020, as a default, for all eligible customers. This is applicable for all loan accounts with no outstanding dues as ofMarch27,2020

Moratorium period is applicable to non-delinquent loan accounts and includes the following Term Loans: •Home Loans

•Loan against Property

•Personal Loans

•Business Instalment Loans

•Guarantee Instalment Loans

The moratorium conditions are as follows:

  • One needs to SMS if they do not want to avail the moratorium.
  • It is only applicable for April and May instalments
  • EMI will be same and tenure will be extended
  • If availed no prepayment or other payment allowed
  • One is be eligible to avail the benefit of deferred payment of EMI during the Moratorium Period only if there are no outstanding dues as of March27,2020.
  • Incase someone is not eligible to avail the benefit under the moratorium Period, then they are required to repay the EMI on time to avoid penal charges and a slippage in credit rating
  • Not applicable for pre EMI on under construction units

So no option has been given for credit card payments

  • Citibank


Citibank has allowed moratorium credit card and term loans(personal loan and home loans) for only those who are preselected by them. They are being contacted by sms and mail.

  • They have also asked customers to avoid using it for credit cards.
  • EMI will remain the same and tenure will be extended
  • If EMI has been paid for April it can be reversed
  • If you are selected and amount is unpaid then no extra charge will be paid

This post was originally posted on Abhishek’s Medium Blog.

Concept Note: Coronavirus tracking app

Google Location is one of the most widely used service in the world and most of the smartphones have this service on by default for it is also being used by various other utility applications worldwide. We also know that google maintains the history unless a user specifically requests to delete that history. Google also knows your peer-group and the people you interact with in regular basis, for example if you happened to take an Ola cab, Google location logs will show you and the driver used the Google location service and the same time and you two journeyed together. If you happened to be in a public place meeting someone, there is a high probability google location service coupled with your contact history and call logs can establish who you were meeting.

Having established above let’s talk about some useful facts about coronavirus and its spread. 1. It’s a highly contagious virus, so it will be safe to assume everyone a carrier has come is contact with is at risk. 2. The symptoms can show themselves anywhere between 2-14 days from the day of infection, meaning in a carrier starts showing symptoms today it is possible that he/she has been a career from past 14 days. 3. Testing and health services are limited and in extreme short supply hence it is important to know where to focus the efforts. and 4. Tracing the carriers and quarantining them as fast as possible (before they even know it) is the key because any delay in doing so may mean anywhere between 1-25 additional carriers everyday assuming mild social distancing is being practiced and mobility is restricted because of lockdown.

Armed with above informed I propose following service to be designed, which may end up helping in saving the humanity in big way. (We can resume our privacy debates once humanity is safe and sound).

  • Create and additional service as part of Google location service where user or any other person having access to user’s phone marks the person carrier as soon as he/she is tested positive.
  • The moment this information hits the server, google maps will trace the footsteps of this user for last 14 days
  • Google servers will identify all other users in its systems that have been in the same location at the same time
  • Google will send a notification to all these users with the details of the nearest testing center requesting them to get them tested and observe extreme self quarantine till they are tested and confirmed negative
  • A copy of this notification will be sent to the nearest testing center, so that testing centers do not send away this person because he/she does not fit the criteria given to them (make this notification as one of the criteria for testing)
  • Google will also know if and when the person has visited the testing center and mark the user as sample given, when he/she visits the testing center and submits his/her sample
  • Google will also know if such person is breaking quarantine and will warn the person against doing so and will also alert nearby designated authority if such marked person decides to move away from his/her quarantine location along with a tracking
  • This tracking will help authorities apprehend the person as soon as possible
  • Users identified as such will not be allowed to turn off their location service till they are marked negative by the authorities
  • (We can even have an option to alert people co-living so that they also can take precautions and also help the person get through this situation)

Disclaimer: I do not have detailed knowledge of Google’s systems and internal functionality. This is a proposal created based on my knowledge of their services as a user. I am sure their capable engineers will be able to do a much better job when they get to designing something like this.

Phone pe Loan or Loan pe Phone

These days every other Fintech struggling to find a sustainable revenue model is trying to become a lending company. While the bigger ones with enough capital are going with their own NBFC, smaller players are using credit lines from other NBFCs. However even when these start-ups are using credit line they end up offering FLDG (First Loss Default Guarantee) up to a certain degree to the NBFCs, thus actually owning the risk. This phenomenon has become so common that many pundits of the start-up ecosystem have proclaimed lending a feature.

As the title of the post suggest, two key models emerge:

Phone pe Loan: This model involves user downloading the app of the lender and then lender using various data points collected from the phone to underwrite the loan. Linking the lending to a mobile app gives lender access to multiple non-traditional data points like SMS, Call logs, Location etc, giving lender information like users finances (through SMS), your social connects (through call logs), your home and work address (through location data) etc providing lender enough information to underwrite the loan even without traditional credit score. This works well in Indian context considering only a small population in India has credit history. This also gives user anytime-anywhere access to the loan thus closely mimicking the credit card business. These loans are usually low ticket short duration loans where the lions share of lenders income comes from processing fee instead of interest. Multiple loans taken and paid back over a period of time constantly feeds into your profile with the lender and helps in the underwriting.

Start-ups like SmartCoin, MoneyTap, Early Salary are some key names in this space. Nowadays even companies like Ola and PayTM have come up with Postpaid offerings, which can be categorized in this category with difference being access to certain proprietary data like your activity in Ola Cabs and your PayTM app transactions respectively.

Loan pe Phone: Other prominent model perfected by Bajaj Finance and Home Credit is consumable financing i.e. offering loan linked to a purchase giving customer an option to pay in EMIs instead of upfront payment. In this model lender usually strikes a deal with either the merchant or the manufacturer to subvent the cost of loan thus making the loan to customers practically interest free. Since the subvention money is paid to the lender by merchant or manufacturer onetime makes this much more lucrative to the lender, when compared to the interest paid by customers as part of EMIs. When you get into the details you will be able to see the interest rate applied and the amount subvented by the manufacturer or merchant.

Merchants or manufacturers in this process effectively let go of some of their margin in the interest of gaining a transaction, which they may have ended up loosing due to customer’s inability to make upfront payment. Entire credit card industry had been built on this very concept. Originally one of the key reasons merchants had agreed to pay MDR from their margin because credit cards increased customer’s capacity to pay. (Merchants pay higher MDR for American Express or other premium variants of Visa, MasterCard and Diners, because of the belief that these cards offer higher capacity to spend)

In fact nowadays most of the credit card companies have also started offering EMI option under similar arrangements to its customers. Recently I have seen many banks extending this option through their debit cards.

This model is not new though, many manufacturers of high value goods like cars run their own lending companies to finance the purchase. This was later adopted by bike manufacturers. Now when your phones are as expensive and sometimes even more expensive than a bike why would phone manufacturers stay behind. That is why now we are seeing companies like Xiaomi (Mi) getting into lending business adopting “loan pe phone” model.

Online variation of similar model is nowadays popularly being referred as “pay later” and companies like Zest Money, Lazy Pay (PayU) etc are operating on this very model with varying degree of subvention.

UPI for Cash Transactions

Recently two news items hit the round, one with PhonePe launching ATM services through their merchant partners and another with NPCI releasing guidelines for cash withdrawal at local retailers on the lines of Cash at POS model. How this transaction works will be easy to understand once we know that the accounting for Cash Withdrawal transaction at merchant outlet is same as purchase transaction i.e.

Dr Customer Account

Cr Merchant Account

This gave me an idea, why not extend this to business correspondents to offer Cash Deposit and Cash Withdrawal both to customers through UPI. The accounting entry for Cash Deposit is as follows:

Dr BC Account

Cr Customer Account

Business correspondent will process the transaction as a push credit to customer’s VPA through the UPI app offered by his/her Bank. Most of the big banks are already having their own UPI apps and it will not be of any difficulty to integrate these APIs with their BC app or app provided by their agent service provider. This will not only ensure an easy way to offer cash services to a wider network, while also ensuring interoperability. The guidelines to cover transactions across Business Correspondents network are already in place.

Cash Remittance: This service can also be extended to offer third party cash deposits, under the already existing Domestic Money Transfer (DMT) guidelines.

This transaction set can even be extended to offer innovative Cash Management services by tracking the cash needs at local retailers and moving cash among nearby retailers depending on their cash needs and the Cash Management company can even register as a third party provider under the UPI framework supported by one or multiple Banks as PSP. A Google Pay for B2B, if you must. If this service becomes successful, one can petition NPCI to increase the limits for such types of transactions to allow for larger sums. I am certain with UPI at the back-end it will be much cheaper than Bank fees.

Feel free to reach out to me, if any of you want to brainstorm further on this.

How will UPI based payments app make money?

I have come across multiple articles highlighting how after abolition of PSP fees for UPI transactions, there will be no way for UPI apps like Google Pay, PhonePe etc, to make money. I tried to do some thinking on this subject and will try to present my thought process here.

The purpose with which UPI was launched was to offer merchants a convenient way to accept and process payments, meaning every merchant with a decent technology team will be able to become a PSP and accept payments from customers. This meant that instead of going to a CCAvenue or Billdesk or TechProcess or Atom, merchant will be able to become a PSP to accept payment through UPI. Under traditional arrangement merchant would be paying a fee to the payment gateway (since we are talking UPI, the equivalent payment mode for this in traditional way would be Netbanking) to the tunes of around 1.4% thus becoming a PSP would be a cheaper and preferred way for merchants.

If we look at it from above perspective the motive of UPI P2M was never to offer new business models to players like PhonePe instead it was intended for Amazon to accept payments at cheaper rate with more convenience by launching Amazon Pay as a native payment mode. Many players in the industry like MakeMyTrip, Swiggy, Cleartrip etc are using UPI with the intent of giving a native payment experience.

If we talk specific of Google Pay, Google’s primary source of revenue is ads. So far google was able to track efficiency of an ad up to the point of click. With a native payment mode, google can actually track right up to fulfillment step. This was one of the reasons Google has been trying to launch a payment app for many years now. UPI offers them a cheap and efficient way to do that thus making their job much easier. Even if they don’t make a single penny from processing payments, they gain a lot by way of gathering valuable information, which can generate significantly higher returns in the form of helping them enhance the efficiency of their ads.

Let’s talk BharatPe now. I think they will face the biggest heat of this decision even to the extent of making their entire current business model unviable and force them to think of alternate sources of revenue. Most of their merchant base is smaller businesses and their business is completely dependent on UPI P2M. In my opinion, one of the key sources of revenue for them will be providing access to various online/offline products dedicated for SMBs to their merchant base and generate commission income in the process. In the long run they will have to create additional products and services for their target client base and charge them for those.

PayTM is another big player, who will be hit with a double edged sword in the form of WhatsApp Pay for P2P and zero fee for P2M. However based on their recent move they have already made peace with zero P2M fee and seems like they know what they are doing.

Last big player in this bandwagon is PhonePe. What would be the fee being paid by Flipkart and its other group entities for processing NetBanking payments? If that entire volume shifts to UPI, that would be the extent of saving PhonePe would be generating for Flipkart group. Would this make PhonePe a multi-billion dollar entity it has been projected to be? The simple answer is, no. They would not have become that multi-billion dollar entity relying only on UPI P2M revenue anyway. They already have shown their ambition of becoming a financial services conglomerate in the lines of PayTM and continuing to acquire users and merchants on their platform and processing transactions for them is in their interest, even at the cost of burning cash.

WhatsApp Pay: A Prediction

Finally after wait of many months NPCI has given go ahead to Facebook to launch their UPI based WhatsApp Pay service. I had used their service when they had launched their pilot last year and found the user experience super efficient for P2P payments. On multiple occasions we used this method to pay to or claim from friends just after receiving or sending a message about the due amount.

One more thing unique about paying money through WhatsApp pay was no need to input a PIN to access the UPI payment option. In case of any other UPI app customer has to input a PIN for accessing the UPI app (some apps like Google Pay give you the option to use your phone’s access PIN itself as this PIN) and then once again he/she needs to input his/her UPI PIN just before processing the payment. In case of WhatsApp pay, only the second PIN was being asked. This had led to some controversy also due to few leading players objecting to NPCI allowing WhatsApp to bypass the access PIN, which I also believed was giving WhatsApp an unfair advantage against its peers.

In their final version, I doubt they will be allowed to continue with this exception and they may or may not come up with any other more convenient way to introduce the access level control. Still the biggest advantage they have is their almost monopoly on P2P messaging.

One of the biggest advantage UPI had brought in payments was making it easier to communicate source and destination account address by introducing VPA. What WhatsApp’s ownership of messaging channel means that now there will not be a need to even communicate the VPA.

Dominating methods used for P2P payments before introduction of UPI were IMPS/NEFT (completely controlled by banks) or mobile wallets (with PayTM leading the game there), since the launch of UPI I have observed many people use Google Pay. With mobile wallets on its decline and Banks not bothering much to improve their UX (irrespective of customer’s mode of choice, the money eventually will flow in the bank account), they may end up getting into partnership with WhatsApp by becoming PSP sponsor. The only real competition left to face for WhatsApp in P2P payments space will be Google Pay, where WhatsApp has a clear advantage due to them owning the messaging channel.

To summarize, I am of the belief that WhatsApp is going to be the clear winner in P2P payments space. I do not have clear visibility on how much WhatsApp for business has picked up, but they may even have a chance to process P2M from with-in their messaging platform.

कार्ड पेमेंट की परिभाषा सरल हिंदी में

जब आप अपने डेबिट, क्रेडिट या फिर प्रीपेड कार्ड का इश्तेमाल करते हैं तो कई कंपनियां इस पूरे चक्र में मिलकर काम करती हैं। पहले तो आपको कार्ड देने वाली बैंक जिसे इस्सुअर बैंक, दुकानदार के यहाँ कार्ड चलाने का मशीन या QR कोड देने वाला बैंक जिसे एक्विरिंग बैंक और इन दोनों बैंकों के बीच लेन देन को करवाने वाली कंपनी जिसे इंटरचेंज कहते हैं। हमारे देश में ज्यादातर पेमेंट वीसा, मास्टरकार्ड या रुपे इंटरचेंज के द्वारा किये जाते हैं। इनका लोगो आपको दुकानों में, वेबसाइट के पे पेज पर और आपके कार्ड पर देखने को मिलेगा। जब आपके कार्ड का इंटरचेंज लोगो दुकान पे लगा हो इसका मतलब वहाँ आपका कार्ड चलेगा। अगर आपके कार्ड का इंटरचेंज लोगो दुकान या एटीएम पे नहीं है तो आपका कार्ड वहाँ नहीं चलेगा।

आज के इस निबंध से मेरा उद्देश्य है आप सबको कार्ड के इस्तेमाल से जुड़े हुए कुछ प्रचलित शब्दों से आप लोगों को अवगत कराना जिससे आपको सारी प्रक्रिया समझने में आसानी हो और आप इस सुविधा का सोच समझकर बिना किसी हिचकिचाहट के प्रयोग कर सकें और इससे जुड़े हुए कई लाभ उठा सकें।

डेबिट कार्ड: आपका डेबिट कार्ड आपके बैंक द्वारा आपको दिया गया प्लास्टिक है जिससे आपका बैंक एकाउंट जुड़ा होता है। एक डेबिट कार्ड हमेशा किसी बचत या चालू खाते से जुड़ा होता है और केवल आपका बैंक ही इसे आपको जारी कर सकता है। कार्ड के ऊपर आपका कार्ड नंबर, एक्सपायरी डेट और आपके नाम के अलावा आपके बैंक और इंटरचेंज के लोगो छापे जाते हैं। कार्ड के पीछे कुछ अत्यावश्यक जानकारी जैसे की बैंक का कस्टमर केअर नंबर के अलावा एक सफेद पट्टी होती है जिसपे आप को अपना हस्ताक्षर करना होता है और उसी पट्टी के पास एक तीन अंकों की संख्या होती है जिसे सीवीवी या सीवीसी नंबर भी कहते हैं।

क्रेडिट कार्ड: एक क्रेडिट कार्ड आपके बैंक द्वारा इशू किया गया वो प्लास्टिक है जो आपके उधार खाते से जुड़ा होता है। इस कार्ड पे किये गए सारे पेमेंट का हिसाब आपको आपके बैंक के साथ महीने में एक बार करना पड़ता है। हर महीने की एक निर्धारित तिथि को बैंक आपको पूरे महीने का हिसाब एक स्टेटमेंट के रूप में आपको भेजती है और आप बैंक को निर्धारित तिथि के पहले पूरा पैसा चुका देते हैं। पैसा निर्धारित तिथि तक नहीं चुकाने की सूरत में बैंक आप पर पेनल्टी और इंटरेस्ट लगा देता है। इसलिए मेरी सलाह यही है की हर महीने पूरा भुगतान करें। क्रेडिट कार्ड देखने में आपके डेबिट कार्ड के जैसा ही दिखता है और उस पर वही सारी जानकारी छपी होती है जो एक डेबिट कार्ड में। हमारे देश में एक बैंक ही क्रेडिट कार्ड जारी कर सकता है।

प्रीपेड कार्ड: यह प्लास्टिक भी देखने में आपके क्रेडिट और डेबिट कार्ड की तरह ही दिखता है। एक प्रीपेड कार्ड आपके बचत, चालू या उधार खाते से नहीं जुड़ा होता। इस कार्ड में आपको पहले पैसा लोड करना पड़ता है उसके बाद ही आप इसको कहीं इस्तेमाल कर सकते हैं। एक बैंक के अलावा दूसरे कंपनियों को भी आरबीआई प्रीपेड कार्ड जारी करने की अनुमति देता है। ऐसी कंपनियों को पीपीआई या प्रीपेड पेमेंट इंस्ट्रूमेंट इस्सुर भी कहते हैं। मोबाइल वॉलेट, Sodexo मील कार्ड, ट्रैवेल कार्ड, FASTag वगैरह प्रीपेड कार्ड के अलग अलग उदाहरण हैं।

इस्सुअर: जिस बैंक या पीपीआई ने आपको कार्ड जारी किया है उसे इस्सुअर कहते हैं। इस्सुअर का काम लेन-देन के समय कार्ड और कस्टमर की वैधता स्थापित करना जिसे ऑथेंटिकेशन और आपके खाते में पैसे की उपलब्धता बताना जिसे  ऑथोरिजशन कहते हैं।

एक्वायरर: जो बैंक दुकानदार के यहाँ लगी मशीन के लिए और उसके खाते में लेन देन के लिए जिम्मेदार होती है उसे एक्विरिंग बैंक कहते हैं। कार्ड मशीन या फिर QR कोड पर बने हुए लोगो को देख कर आप पता कर सकते हैं की किसी दुकानदार का एक्विरिंग बैंक कौन सा है। HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, SBI, Axis Bank इत्यादी बड़े अस्क्विरिंग बैंक हैं।

इंटरचेंज: इंटरचेंज का काम इस्सुर और एक्वायरर बैंकों के बीच लेन-देन सुनिश्चित करने का होता है। कार्ड के इश्तेमाल के दौरान दोनों बैंकों के बीच में कनेक्टिविटी और बाद में पैसे का लेन-देन इंटरचेंज की जिम्मेदारी होती है। वीसा, मास्टरकार्ड और रूपे भारत में तीन इंटरचेंज हैं। एक इंटरचेंज के बिना आपके बैंक का कार्ड किसी और बैंक की मशीन में नहीं चलेगा।

पॉस मशीन (PoS): दुकानदार के पास जिस मशीन में आप अपना कार्ड डालते हैं उस मशीन को पॉस कहते हैं। दुकानदार को यह मशीन अस्क्विरिंग बैंक दिलाता है और इस मशीन से हुए सारे पेमेंट्स को दुकानदार के खाते से जोड़ता है। पॉस मशीन में एक डिसप्ले, की पैड, प्रिंटर और नेटवर्क से कनेक्ट करने के लिए सुविधा होती है।

About Me

I was born in a very small village in Uttar Pradesh, the population of which is in four digits and I still cannot locate it in Google maps. After spending six years there, I moved on to a small town called Jahanabad and studied there till 5th standard and then moved to Kanpur to live in a hostel while my family still stayed in Jahanabad. Few years later my family also moved to Kanpur. During my 12th standard I appeared for JEE and got selected. With a desire to explore beyond Kanpur, I decided to pick IIT Bombay instead of IIT Kanpur and moved to Mumbai in 2001.

After graduating from IIT Bombay in 2005, I started my career from unlikely field of retail banking for a Mechanical Engineer. I got an opportunity to work with HDFC Bank as part of their Business Solutions Group, which was later called Business Process Re-engineering Group. I was part of the team taking care of retail payments and digital solutions for retail customers. It was a time when innovations in payments space were just picking up. HDFC Bank had just recently launched their prepaid card variants, Netsafe, their one time use virtual card was still in infancy, Bank was having big plans around credit card and merchant acquiring business, mobile payments was something people had started talking about. In short I was very fortunate to start my journey at such a stage when India was at the starting point of re-imagining payments and in an organization which was at the forefront of this all under the supervision of a boss, who allowed me to paint my own canvas, without throwing his authority around whenever we had our disagreements and sometimes very heated debates.

I spent almost 9 years in HDFC Bank and in those years I was instrumental in implementation of many features of Indian payments space. I was the one who implemented Verified by Visa (VbV), back bone of 2nd factor authentication for online transactions way before RBI decided to make it mandatory. Soon after we extended to MasterCard Secure Code. I was key part of EMV implementation across debit, credit and prepaid variants of cards for HDFC Bank. I got to be a part of one of the biggest banking mergers in Indian Banking with merger of HDFC Bank and Centurian Bank of Punjab. I was the man in-charge for migration of all Debit and Prepaid card related data from CBoP to HDFC Bank.

When our financial inclusion business team needed support from solutions team I was pushed in that direction by my boss and that gave me the opportunity to work on projects like Bank on Wheels, Ultra Small Branches. We experimented with biomertic authentication for our rural approach and that made me the obvious choice to work with UIDAI and NPCI during early days of AEPS and APBS.

When Diners wanted to partner with HDFC Bank after expiry of their engagement with Citi Bank in India, I got to be a part of that project and worked very closely with Diners team to ensure smooth launch of HDFC Bank Diners Club Credit Card.

HDFC Bank also gave me the chance to work on massive project of core-banking upgrade and gave me the understanding of the amount of planning that goes into executing project affecting practically all departments of the organization spanning over a period of many months. How to manage and monitor the impact at various stages to avoid any catastrophe is one of the key things I learned from that project.

During this period mobile was also sneaking in and we were all exploring how to exploit the growing influence of mobile phones to process payments and allowed me to work on projects like mChek and mPesa. For our mChek implementation I made sure we store card track data inside mChek application on the mobile phone/SIM card thus processing the transaction as Card Present instead of Card not Present. Effectively we were using mobile device as one factor of authentication in 2007.

I also got a feel of regulatory and compliance areas by getting exposed to projects like SOX and PCI-DSS.

Post my stint at HDFC Bank and I moved on to Kotak Mahindra Bank, again as part of their Business Solutions Group. Two key projects I managed to execute in Kotak were enabling Kotak ATMs to acquire Master Cards and another banking merger as part of merger of Kotak Mahindra Bank with ING Vysya Bank.

At this point I was approached by the team building Jio Payments Bank and I joined them as their 11th employee with the mandate to design solutions for all their customer facing services. This gave me a glimpse of how to build an organization from scratch with access to unlimited capital.

Aparajit was setting up an accelerator for early stage Fintech start-ups and he approached me to help him with the same and I jumped to the opportunity as it was clearly something very new for me and also exciting considering all the action happening in Fintech space. I got a chance to invest in few really good Fintech start-ups at very early stage. One of them Open Financial is doing really well in Open Banking/Neo Banking space. This stint gave me a closer look at venture investing and a balcony seat to all the action in early stage Fintech start-up space.

When things changed at the accelerator because of factors beyond our control, we all decided move on to our respective directions with me choosing to join early stage payments start-up Payabbhi as their Chief Product Officer.