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Pine Labs rolls-out super app for merchant payments and financial services

Point-of-Sale (PoS) device manufacturer Pine Labs aims to acquire 1 million small merchants across the country over the next year through its new payments acceptance app called ‘All Tap’. While Pine Labs’ merchants have used the company’s e-PoS or mobile-PoS app to accept digital payments on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and QR-code based payments, the new app will allow them to start accepting card payments.

“We will be the first company where debit and credit card payments can be accepted through any NFC smartphone. Here any Android phone can be used to accept payments from any NFC card whether issued on Visa, Mastercard, RuPay or American Express, in addition to UPI and QR-based payments. Our aim to roll out this product to 1 million merchants in a year and 100,000 in the next month.” — Amrish Rau, chief executive officer, Pine Labs.

The new platform will let every Near-Field-Communication (NFC) enabled smartphone to become a card payment acceptance device mainly for contactless payments. Since the company is using a payment app journey to acquire new merchants, the cost of acquisition is considerably lower compared to physical PoS device deployment. The app will also include Pine Labs’ Buy Now Pay Later or EMI offering, allowing merchants to scale their business through micro-credit options, the company said.

“While it is easy to accept QR-based UPI payments through stickers, which has no cost, now merchants can accept NFC-based card payments at a very low cost,” Rau said.”This offering is a completely different game as you can sign up merchants at virtually zero cost. This is a product that completes the payments loop, accepting both UPI QR-based payments and card payments.” he said.

“We want to manage commerce for small merchants and manage payments for small merchants. You will see us start to bring in financial services products, around lending, around loyalty, within the same app and you will see use providing financial services all out of this ecosystem. We are planning to launch these products in the next 90 days,” Rau said. He added that Pine Labs is looking to take their technology solutions to markets in South-East Asia and the Middle-East.

Lower cost of acquisition for card payments

“We are trying to solve structural problems for accepting 850 million debit and 50 million credit cards. Because of the cost of deploying PoS machines is high, there is a lot of documentation required and due to maintenance costs, it is not accessible for many small merchants in the country,” said Nitish Asthana, president and chief operating officer, Pine Labs. The All Tap solution will open up a new category of merchants for payments acceptance, he said. The constraints on distribution are reduced under this platform and we think this product will allow any smartphone to become a card accepting machine. The overall market opportunity, we think, is around 25 to 30 million merchants,” Asthana said.

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“We are going after small merchants who do may be 1 or 2 transactions today. We are making the Know-Your-Customer process far more simpler, while today you need the GSTN and PAN to start accepting payments in a months’ time the merchant can start using the app just with their PAN card. At present using the app will be free, but there will be transaction fees for some of the offerings based on what the regulatory allows and the existing merchant-discount-rate structure will be applied as is currently mandate,” Rau said.

Once the merchant downloads the app, on-boarding process can be completed within in a few minutes through a simple KYC check of the merchants’ bank account and business or individual identity. The app will also include single window clearance module for all the payments modes and soon it will feature a billing platform and third-party app integrations which can call on the ‘All Tap’ app to collect payments, the company said.

At present, the Reserve Bank of India has set a limit on contactless transactions via NFC based payments, whether on cards or UPI, up to 5,000. “At least 25-30% of android smartphones are NFC-enabled, which will largely cover our target market. We believe that deployment of NFC smartphones will continue to grow going forward. Everybody from Visa, NPCI or Mastercard believe that this is a future area for growth,” Rau added.

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