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Interview with Gaurav Zutshi, Senior VP, Obopay
Mobile banking in India is expected to garner over 53 million active users by 2013, according to analyst firm TowerGroup. Gaurav Zutshi, senior vice president and global head, product management is keen to tap the business opportunities such growth entails. In an interview with tele.net.in, he talks about the company’s journey in India so far and the potential of mobile banking in the country. Excerpts…
How has the company’s journey in India been so far?
Obopay has been in India since 2007. We launched our first service in Pune in April 2010 in association with YES Bank and Nokia. This service is called ‘Mobile Money Services by YES Bank’. Post receiving a good response at Pune, the service was expanded to Chandigarh and Nasik.
In November 2010, we tied-up with Union Bank of India to offer mobile financial services across India along with Nokia and the service is currently live in the National Capital Region (NCR), New Delhi and the neighboring satellite cities like Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Noida.
We have received tremendous response from users nationally. With encouragement from RBI this journey has been quite an adventure so far.
What is your product portfolio?
Obopay’s mobile money service transforms any mobile phone into a convenient, easy and secure way to send or receive money, anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Obopay makes it easy for mobile phone users around the world to securely send or receive money, top-up their mobile, buy online, buy via mobile, pay bills, pay small businesses, and provides the most broadly available and easiest-to-use mobile money service through a mobile phone. Consumers can initiate mobile payments through multiple channels such as SMS, IVR, WAP and GPRS.
Currently Obopay’s services are live across three continents, the US, Africa and Asia. Our development center at Bangalore designs all the technology solutions for these services. In the US, we have partnered with MasterCard and Citibank to offer mobile banking and have recently introduced mobile payment applications for tablets. In Kenya, through our partnership with Essar Telecom Kenya Limited, under the brand YuCash, we offer a host of unique features which enhances the subscriber’s experience over and above just sending and receiving money.
In Senegal we have partnered with Societe Generale de Banques au Senegal and commercial partners including Credit Mutuel du Senegal, Tigo and Canalsat Horizons.
What are the challenges before you?
In a country where language, religion, culture and tastes undergo a change after every few kilometers is a challenge in terms of acceptance. So, we need to provide users with a product that is user-friendly, platform agnostic and interoperable with different networks, handsets and banks.
Since mobile payments is a service that will be used to carry out day to day transactions, the service provider needs to have the entire ecosystem in place from a bank to merchants, agents, utility companies as well as neighbor vendors to make this service complete and usable.
To ensure wide variety of services to the consumers through mobile payments, we have tied up with local merchants, a number of billers into its fold to ensure easy payments of bills for various utility services such as Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. (Formerly MSEB), Bharti Cellular Limited, Vodafone Essar Cellular Limited etc. Also Obopay along with its partners is fast increasing its agent base to make this service available to as many people as possible.
What is the potential of m-banking in India and possible hurdles?
According to analyst firm TowerGroup estimates, mobile banking usage in India will grow from 10 million active users in 2009 to over 53 million active users in 2013, representing a compound annual growth rate of 51.8 per cent.
As per Gartner, money transfers and payments over mobile phones will be among the top 10 most important mobile applications by 2012.
As mentioned before, India is a diverse country and hence every region and states have different languages and acceptance norms. To be accepted by everyone it is necessary to ‘localize’. In short, you can’t expect a ‘one size fits all’ situation. Hence, customization will be the key. Also, there is a need to clear misconceptions and fears on the dangers of mobile banking within mindsets. Educating people on how mobile payments are absolutely safe and efficient is a priority.
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