Why TerraPay Makes Sense For Mobile Wallet Providers


India has more than 20 mobile wallet providers and around 200 million subscribers, shared among operators like PayTm, Freecharge, Mobikwik, Vodafone m-Pesa, Airtel Money, Oxygen Wallet, ICICI Pocket etc. While the mobile wallet business is growing, there is one major factor that is hindering the growth to its potential – interoperability.

At current scenario, one can not transfer money from Airtel Money to Vodafone m-Pesa and vise versa. Similarly all these mobile wallet service providers work in their own network and inter-mobile wallet service is not there. There, the fundamental purpose is defeated – to enable the unbanking population to bank without making them face a technological barrier.

And there comes TerraPay as a saviour.

“We make mobile wallets talk to each other,” says TerraPay founder and CEO Ambar Sur. “With this platform any mobile wallet subscriber can send or receive money from any other partner mobile wallet.”

Ambar-Sur -TerraPaySo how does this TerraPay work? It acts as a hub for the mobile wallet companies. However, TerraPay does not directly serve end consumers like you or me. Mobile wallets or mobile payment solution providers like m-Pesa can partner with TerraPay and the latter has multiple partners around the globe, which makes the transaction possible among the wallets.

“What a subscriber require is just a smartphone. It can be the only identifier to make transaction happen among consumers across the country, across the wallet and irrespective of currency,” Sur adds.

TerraPay is a Mahindra Comviva initiative but works as a separate entity and offers wholesale remittance service to wallet providers. The company offers Terra Suite of APIs to mobile wallet providers who want to develop international remittance services.

The Opportunity

India is world’s largest remittance recipient country with inward money touching $69 billion in 2015, according to the World Bank. Of these more than 50% comes from the Middle East where close to 4 million Indians work, mostly as blue collared workers. Similarly, the domestic remittance market size was pegged at around $25 billion in 2015.

This remittance, both domestic as well as international, comes from the migratory workers, who send money to their family members from abroad or to their family members back home from their place of work domestically. However, there is a big issue.

India, according to RBI, is home to one of the largest unbanked population, around 150 million. The need and the mandate for the country, now, is to bring them to the mainstream of banking. It could be via traditional banking system or through any system that can help the unbanked population do the financial transaction with ease and as per their convenience.

This is one part of the story.

The second part is, at present, in a country with more than 900 million mobile users, mobile payments or financial transaction using mobile phones contributes around 4% of the total online transaction, though its on a growth path. The m-payment market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 68% in the next five years. Similarly, according to some reports the mobile wallet market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 30% from 2015 to 2019.

This means there is a great opportunity to be tapped – both from making mobile transactions happen, and facilitating international as well as domestic remittance by making mobile wallets interoperable.

According to Sur, this potential can only be tapped when mobile wallet companies come on a single platform and offer consumers just the service, and not the technicalities of the wallet process of multiple providers.

“The so called digital divide and financial inclusion will happen only when there is a seamless process of financial transaction,” explains Sur. “With TerraPay customers can experience the same kind of experience as they today witness with ATMs – where you can use any bank’s card and do the transaction.”

TerraPay recently acquired UK based money transfer company Pay2global which gave the former license to operate in 32 countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). The company is barely two years old and had expanded its business in Africa and Philippines, besides UK.

Though there is huge potential in India, TerraPay has not started its India operations yet.

“We are watching the market very closely and waiting for the market dynamics get stabilised in terms of factors like Payments Banks, UPI etc,” says Sur.


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