Mobile wallets sag as KYC norms chase users away

If the increasing use of cash seems to have crept back into the system, there are also indications of a sharp fall in users of mobile wallets, which played a critical role in digitising payments. Various industry sources pegged the fall in total number of people using wallets at 80% to 90%, with customer authentication failing to take off.Standalone mobile wallet companies told ET there has been no pick-up among mobile wallet consumers to complete the KYC formalities.
Standalone mobile wallet companies told ET there has been no pick-up among mobile wallet consumers to complete the KYC formalities.

Amazon India, which routes a large chunk of refunds and incentivises ecommerce transactions through its Amazon Pay wallet has seen a sharp reduction in cash loading into the wallet. “Cash loads have reduced by 95%. This will mean lower digital payment adoption in the long run, especially as we expand further into smaller cities and towns. We are losing an opportunity to engage customers who typically do not use electronic instruments,” said an Amazon India spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that with the requirement of full KYC, customers are not eager to load wallets and are shifting to cash on delivery, which had dropped to 40% after demonetisation in November 2016 and has now stabilised at 60% levels.

The Reserve Bank of India is yet to release transaction data of digital wallets after February 28, the deadline for KYC compliance.

Standalone mobile wallet companies told ET there has been no pick-up among mobile wallet consumers to complete the KYC formalities.

Mobile wallets sag as KYC norms chase users away
“The industry average is still in the low single digits for the number of people who have done their KYC out of the total number of users of mobile wallets,” said Sunil Kulkarni, joint managing director of Oxigen Services, one of the largest wallet companies in the domestic remittance business. However, MobiKwik, a standalone wallet company, indicated that there are early signs of stabilisation.

“As a share of people who have at least submitted some identification documents with us, it stands at close to 40% of our total users. By the end of this year we are hoping that we can manage to double transaction volumes,” said Bipin Preet Singh, chief executive officer of MobiKwik.

The RBI said last year that mobile wallet companies need to collect full authentication documents for customers and verify them physically to continue operating such accounts.

A top executive of a mobile wallet entity said the number of full KYC compliant accounts would not be more than 15% because consumers have not been offered additional incentives to submit identification documents.

“If interoperability was made a reality, then we could have told customers that doing full KYC is beneficial as he could use it to make payments across multiple merchant locations, but interoperability guidelines are yet to come from the RBI,” he said on condition of anonymity since the matter is still under regulatory purview. Another hurdle is the Aadhaar authentication process.

The Unique Identification Authority of India has not opened registration of new authentication agencies and third-party authentication has been stopped

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