PoS terminals likely to go multilingual by next quarter

The new languages to be introduced in the PoS terminals are Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu


At present, point-of-sale machines are generally available in English or Hindi. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
At present, point-of-sale machines are generally available in English or Hindi. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

New Delhi: Point-of-sale (PoS) terminals are expected to go multilingual by the next quarter in a step aimed at localizing cashless payments.

The new languages to be introduced in the terminals are Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu.

At present, PoS machines are generally available in English or Hindi. “We are working to integrate around 7-8 Indian languages in the PoS machines—both stand-alone PoS and mobile PoS (mPoS),” said Arvind Pani, co-founder and CEO of Reverie Language Technologies.

“We are working on the technology and will tentatively be rolling it out by the next quarter. The time taken actually depends on the technology development and then getting multiple entities on board and conducting pilots,” said Pani.

The recent success of the Bharat Interface for Money, or BHIM app (available in seven regional languages for Android version) is an indicator that users are receptive to the idea of paying digitally in regional languages. The app, launched by the Prime Minister on 30 December, has been downloaded a record 18 million times.

Reverie Language Technologies was one of the companies working to enable regional languages on the BHIM app.

“Implementing language through technology is complex in nature therefore we have witnessed a huge gap in terms of awareness about local language experience. The interest of local languages in the payment space has increased because it gets more users/people in the ambit of cashless payments,” he said.

“Currently, there are two companies that we are talking to very actively but it is at a nascent stage now.”

One of the companies to adopt this technology is a merchant payment solutions firm, India Transact Services Ltd.

“The idea is to make the payment experience more user friendly. Receiving notifications about payments, answer to customer related queries, cash backs and other such related services in local languages will be helpful in attracting new first time card users,” said Deepak Bhutra, chief executive officer of India Transact Services.

“In case of mPoS, the entire payment infrastructure is present on the mobile application itself, the external device maybe required to just enter the PIN. In such a case, language integration requires modification or upgrading of the app only whereas in the case of standalone PoS, the software upgradation of the machine itself will be needed because of the display feature present in it,” added Bhutra.

According to Reserve Bank of India records, there are over 940 million debit cards in India, with annual transaction amounts ranging from Rs2.6-Rs 2.9 trillion. Over 90% of these transactions are cash withdrawals at ATMs. Only 8% of debit card holders use PoS terminals to purchase goods and services. This is despite the fact that there are over 1.5 million PoS terminals across the country as against a 220,000 ATM kiosks.

mPoS service provider Mosambee plans to expand its presence in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities by tapping the technology.

Local language integration to the existing payment solutions will prove to be beneficial in incentivizing users from tier-2 and tier-3 cities/towns to undertake digital payments, said Alok Arora, CEO of Mosambee.

According to figures released by the central government, there has been an increase of nearly 13% in the number of PoS machines sold since October 2016, indicating that more merchants across the country are willingly accepting digital payments.

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