freecharge

Online recharge and couponing service FreeCharge has launched a digital wallet which will provide mobile and web transactions by facilitating payments, in partnership with private sector lender YES Bank. The wallet will enable payments for consumers using technologies such as host card emulation (HCE), near field communications (NFC), QR codes and Bluetooth low energy (BLE).

Earlier in April, FreeCharge was acquired by ecommerce player Snapdeal for a reported $450 million, the biggest deal in the Indian consumer internet industry. Snapdeal added that the wallet was in line with the company’s vision of enabling a culture of digital payments through multiple partnerships.

Freecharge has also partnered with alternate banking channel and payments bank licensee FINO Paytech to reach out to build scale and ability to reach the under-served. It’s worth noting that FINO got its semi-closed prepaid payment instrument license renewed by the Reserve Bank of India in August.

In November 2014, Snapdeal had also partnered FINO with to launch assisted e-commerce centres in semi-urban, rural and low-income residential areas across India. At the time, Snapdeal had planned to set up such FINO PayTech-operated assisted e-commerce outlets or kiosks across 70,000 rural areas in 65 cities.

Flipkart’s acquisition of FX Mart

Earlier this month, rival ecommerce player Flipkart acquired majority stake in FX Mart for Rs 45.4 crore. The move would help Flipkart offer digital wallet services on its app as FX Mart holds a prepaid payments instrument licence from the RBI. This was Flipkart’s second investment in the payments space. It had acquired 65.71% stake in mobile payments platform ngpay in December last year. Sourabh Jain, the promoter-shareholder of ngpay, would hold the remaining stake. As per the agreement, Jain and Flipkart have set up ngpay in Singapore. Flipkart’s investment in ngpay assumed significance as the company had begun phasing out its own payments gateway Payzippy after the RBI did not grant a semi-closed wallet licence in 2013.

History between YES Bank, FINO Paytech and Nokia Money

It needs to be pointed out that there’s considerable history between YES Bank, Nokia Mobile Payments and FINO. Perhaps we could see more deals from the past manifest itself in ecommerce now.

Way back in 2010, Nokia had tied up with YES Bank to launch Nokia Money in India powered by Obopay. The service allowed users to check their balance, manage expenses and payments, recharge prepaid (mobile) account, and pay utility bills. Obopay and Yes Bank also launched a mobile payment solution called “Pay Anyone”.

In 2012, FINO acquired Nokia Money in India. The company launched a service called “Takatak Money”, and the new entity which offered the service was called Alpha Payment Services India Private Limited. As we pointed out earlier, the RBI has also renewed FINO’s PPI license in August this year.

Earlier in August, FINO was also among the 11 applicants who got an in-principle nod from the RBI to set up a payments bank. The approval granted will be valid for 18 months, during which time the applicants have to comply with the requirements under the Payments Banks Guidelines.