The promise shown by ‘Jio Money’ and how it will stack up against competition

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It is just recently that major operators like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea got payment bank licences from RBI and along with them an operator which is yet to launch commercial services, Reliance Jio got the payment bank license as well. But the questions that arise at this point are ‘what is the significance of these mobile payment portals and wallets?’ ‘What segment of e-commerce was left uncovered by netbanking and debit cards that there arose a need for such wallets?’


Evidence from developed markets show that mass adoption of digital payment solutions have significant positive impacts on the economy. It brings better transparency, improves financial inclusion, facilitates merchant business and drives growth of trade & commerce. However, more than 95% of all Retail payments in India are still done using cash. Out of 20 million or so merchants in the country, less than 1 million accept card based payments.

In turn, this lack of acceptance of digital payments by merchants means that customers remain wedded to cash. Jio Money aims to play a crucial role in digitisation of payments in India by offering a platform for ubiquitous, affordable and secure digital payments. It is the ideal solution for even the smallest of merchants, such as kiranas, restaurants, and taxi drivers. No additional device is needed and they will be able to accept payments using just their phone.

Jio’s goal is to create a wide network of merchants who use Jio Money, so that most household payments can happen digitally. Customers can use Jio Money’s digital wallet, a Jio Money card or any other credit/debit card directly from the wallet to pay a merchant seamlessly and instantly. Jio Money digital wallet will also give consumers the option of opening a Digital Bank Account or linking their existing account. This will help them access banking anywhere, anytime.

To begin with, Jio has launched the product within a few Reliance campuses and facilities and  expects to expand the Jio Money presence city by city, across the country in phases over the next few quarters. Jio Money will leverage on Jio’s digital network and distribution reach to acquire these untapped merchants. The Payments Bank license will complement Jio’s initiatives on the digital payments business and also enable distribution of financial services by leveraging on Retail and other Jio business in the most accessible, simple and affordable manner with specific focus on the financially excluded.

Last month Airtel incorporated ‘Airtel Money’ into its selfcare ‘My Airtel’ app for android. With the new update, recharging an Airtel number, paying bills, or topping-up DTH balance became easier than ever as you don’t have to wait for OTP for online purchases through your debit card. You can just recharge by entering your Airtel Money wallet PIN in just two steps. My Airtel is an easy-to-use self-care app that allows customers to conveniently discover, access, and self-manage Airtel services across mobile, fixed line, and DTH platforms. Airtel also partnered with Uber for adding ‘Airtel Money’ as a mode of payment for cab rides.

Vodafone has its own mobile wallet ‘M-pesa’  through which it offers 5% cash back and which will become more powerful after getting the payment bank license. Idea is yet to launch its own version of wallet. Also third party competitors like PayTm have their own wallet platform which competes neck to neck with these operators. Only time will tell which of these payment portals will stand the test of consumer acceptance and see mass adoption.

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Esmail is our very own in-house spectrum specialist. He is passionate about Telecom, DTH and OTT video streaming apps. When not writing an article, you can find him binge watching shows on Netflix while sipping on a cup of coffee.

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