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Amazon Pay is among the top digital payments mode preferred by Indians with a large service area including recharges, money transfers, digital payments, ticket bookings acceptable across cities, towns and villages but still the UPI ecosystem has miles to go as Indians prefer cash over other modes of payments. Amazon Pay is working to address the gap and challenges with its services such as BNPL to get more people onboard this digital fin-tech revolution. 

Vikas Bansal, Director, Amazon Pay India, shared his thoughts with Livemint on many aspects of the business and how he aims to take it ahead despite the challenges of acceptance. Edited Excerpts:

What are the bottlenecks still afflicting the UPI ecosystem and how does Amazon Pay address those challenges?

UPI has been at the forefront of India's digital payments revolution. Amazon Pay UPI has over 60MM sign-ups and in the last year, over 75% of our customers using Amazon UPI have come from tier 2 and 3 cities. However, the transformation to digital payments is still underway as about 70% of retail payments in India are in cash. So, we have a long runway ahead of us. There are challenges such as lack of awareness, and a large population of non-internet users, which impact the growth of the digital payments ecosystem. We are trying to address these issues through our awareness campaigns. We recently launched #AbHarDinHuaAasan, an integrated campaign that highlights the convenience, safety and a large set of use cases on Amazon Pay, available within the Amazon app. The campaign has reached over 100 million customers and merchants through various mediums. 

Preventing the misuse of UPI payments by fraudsters is one of our top priorities. We work closely with NPCI to strengthen the mechanism for early detection and prevention of suspicious UPI transactions in addition to driving customer awareness campaigns on secure practices of digital payments.

We are also working in collaboration with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to further simplify the UPI experience. 

How did the fund infusion help Amazon Pay scale up its backend and customers on board?

While we cannot disclose the specifics, we can share the broad buckets. First of all, we are investing in building technology for the future that supports a world-class payments platform. Our other focus is on expanding our talent pool that solves some of the most critical problems in the payments sphere. Last but most important, we are investing in building awareness about digital payments reaching out to the masses to drive the adoption.

The competition has been partnering with IRCTC and other platforms. Where do you want to take Amazon Pay where a large portion of society uses it for daily needs other than recharges?

We are already a preferred choice for millions of customers and merchants across the country. Moreover, we have been on an exciting growth trajectory and achieved some great milestones across the business. 

We offer a large set of use cases including day to day payments such as recharges and utility bills, money transfers, financial services payments, food ordering etc. We are making travel bookings/payments more convenient in partnership with IRCTC, Delhi Metro/Bangalore Metro, MakeMyTrip, RedBus and more. Going forward, we will continue to scale up our existing products and use cases and explore more ways to simplify payments for our customers. The intent is to empower our customers to use Amazon Pay as a one-stop-shop for all their payments requirements.

The buy-now-pay-later concept suits India. Do you feel any problem here while recovering the amount? 

Access to formal credit in India has been a major hurdle for millions of customers. Today, Millennials, Generation Y and Generation Z are looking for easy credit access to expand their shopping budgets.  The emergence of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) addressed this gap. Amazon Pay Later is one of our flagship credit products that empower our customers better manage their monthly spending. Our solutions immerse from these outlooks, and hence, we launched this product amidst the pandemic in April 2020, becoming one of the pioneers in the BNPL space. Amazon Pay Later provides a seamless payment experience with in-built security features and allows customers to buy now and pay next month at no extra cost or by providing EMI options for up to 12 months. It is offered to customers in partnership with lending partners like Capital Float and IDFC FIRST and offered to customers subject to their eligibility. Amazon Pay Later currently has close to 4MM signups which is a clear testimony of customers’ adoption and trust.

We, along with our lending partners, have a customer lifecycle strategy. This strategy helps us assess customers at the time of issuing the credit line but also throughout their lifecycle. So, we have the capacity to adjust to any unfortunate events. So far, the repayments at Amazon Pay Later have been satisfactory. 

What new does Amazon Pay have for its merchants?

MSMEs form the backbone of India’s economy. Amazon Pay offers the ability to accept digital payments and avail credit, strengthen a merchant’s digital footprint and scale up their business, enabling them to become a part of the formal economy. Currently, we have more than 8 million merchants on board as Amazon Pay merchants across 350+ cities and towns. 

Amazon Pay also has the “Amazon Pay For Business" mobile app to allow simplify merchants’ journey for accepting digital payments. Available on Android, the app can be used by small & medium businesses across the country to register themselves, generate a unique QR code and start accepting digital payments within minutes. Customers can use any UPI app to scan the Amazon QR and make payments to these businesses. Apart from this, we provide credit to sellers on Amazon. For sellers, we have created a marketplace of 8+ lenders (banks (ICICI), NBFCs (LendingKart, Indifi, Incred) and Fintech partners) allowing sellers to avail collateral-free credit seamlessly and at lower than industry rates.

We are also excited by the success of Smart Stores which enable customers to discover products in a merchant’s offline store directly through the Amazon app, view rewards and EMI offers and complete safe contactless payments. 

When would the voice-enabled payments debut on Amazon Pay in India?

Customers in India can pay their utility bills with Amazon Pay just by speaking to Alexa. This Alexa feature supports payment of bills across categories such as electricity, water, post-paid mobile, cooking gas, broadband, DTH and more. Users of Amazon Echo, Fire TV Stick and other devices with Alexa built-in can just say commands such as “Alexa, pay my mobile bill" or “Alexa, pay my electricity bill" to get started. 

For existing Amazon Pay users, Alexa will retrieve the amount due for bills from their registered Amazon account and ask for customer confirmation before processing the payment. 

Customers can enable a voice pin on the Alexa app to make transactions more secure. Once approved, Alexa will complete the transaction using Amazon Pay, and send a notification to the customer’s registered mobile phone number, confirming the transaction. 

For new Amazon Pay customers, Alexa will send a link to register their bill details on the Amazon shopping app before proceeding with bill payment. In addition to making payments, customers can ask “Alexa, what’s my balance?" to know the amount available for purchases in their Amazon Pay wallet. To top-up the Amazon Pay account say “Alexa, add 500 to my Amazon Pay balance" and Alexa will send a link to the registered mobile phone to complete the transaction.

Additionally, we launched a voice notification feature for the ‘Amazon Pay for Business’ app as well in English & Hindi. Small businesses across India can enjoy a hassle-free experience eradicating the additional minutes spent during peak business hours waiting for notification for payments received through this feature.

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