Update (August 12th 2013): Upasana Taku of Mobikwik informs us that “since 23rd July MobiKwik flow now asks user to explicitly click on “Create Wallet” button before a new wallet account is created.” The process flow they’ve shared with us indicates that they inform the user that a wallet is being created, but it does not give the user an option other than creating a wallet. This is still terrible consumer practice.
Earlier: Online recharge company Mobikwik is creating wallet accounts for users transacting with external merchants. I discovered this last week, when while buying a Coup Card online from BrownPaperBag: they first created a Mobikwik wallet for (I was sent an account number and a password via SMS). This was followed up with my transaction amount being first credited to my account, and then debited. When I saw the credit and debit messages, I mistook them for two debits, and called up the merchant, asking about why I’ve been debited twice. Then I noticed that it had been a debit and then a credit – and this is something I’ve never seen before with any payment transaction.
This is what Bipin Preet Singh, Founder and CEO at MobiKwik had to say when we asked his for a statement on this process:
“We are not creating mobikwik accounts, these are wallet accounts created only for the purpose of transacting on third party merchants. These wallet accounts are not the target of any promotions from MobKwik. Also, user is being appropriately and clearly notified ( on the web, on email and on sms) at the time of creating a new account. The merchants who integrate this are also well aware of it through our documentation – its what they’ve signed up for. In fact, this is what many merchants asked for. Till date, we’ve not received a single complaint from any wallet account holder on the issue of creating accounts without permission. Based on consumer sentiment, we are open to making the sign up more explicit, but this is likely to negatively affect the user experience of payment flow.”
Here’s my take on it:
1. Mobikwik is clearly creating an account for me without my explicit consent. If they’re not Mobikwik accounts, then which wallet accounts are these? Are these accounts for Atom, which apparently powers the transaction (see the screenshot below)? As a consumer, I haven’t given them consent for this, and if third party payment gateway transactions are being used to create accounts and show wallet transactions, then this data is misleading: If Mobikwik claims these accounts and transactions, then their data is misleading. If Atom does it, then that is misleading.
2. Whose customer am I? In this case, I’m CoupCard/ Brown Paper Bag”s customer, and not Mobikwik’s. As a merchant, Brown Paper Bag (BPB) has no business allowing Mobikwik to create an account for me without my consent. If they have a deal with Mobikwik to create wallet accounts, then BPB needs to offer me alternative options for payment, else they’ll lose business. Had I known that an account would be created with some other company without my consent, I would not have transacted.
The communication to customers is pretty confusing too. For the purpose of this post, I tried buying again (though did not complete the transaction):
I’m buying on CoupCard/BPB, the payment is from a Mobile Wallet powered by Atom, and the disclaimer is from “MobikKwik” (sic). What is going on?
3. By creating a wallet, this potentially creates a situation wherein I’m supposed to log in when I’m transacting with a merchant that has deployed Mobikwik. This is an additional, unnecessary step that is going to result in a loss of transactions for a merchant, because, just like with the OTP, I do not want an additional step. If anything, I’ll create an account with BPB.
As a customer, I’m here to transact, not create wallets for a payment service provider. I just want to pay and get what I’ve bought. There has to be value for a customer in account creation, and here, I see none.
This is, of course, besides the fact that Mobikwik, we thought, was a bill payments site: the payment gateway business from Upasana Taku and Bipin Preet Singh, we thought, was Zaakpay.