Demonitisation has changed the way India and Bharat think about payments. (Reuters)

Demonitisation has changed the way India and Bharat think about payments. It led to the introduction of alternate modes of payments to cash. However, as cash in circulation continues to grow, interestingly digital payments too are growing, which are expected to reach $1 trillion worth transactions by 2025. The Indian consumer is swiftly adopting the new modes of digital payments as he/she is left with more than half a dozen options to choose from. Bharat QR, UPI, Tap & Pay, AePS, Google Tez, WhatsApp pay are some of the new & popular payment options; of these a Point of Sale (PoS) device has stood the test of time, and even as a debate surrounds its redundancy in the near future, this solution is here to stay and grow even stronger.

Currently, there are more than 3 million PoS deployed across the country as compared to approx. 1.5 million PoS terminals in November 2016. Going by its growing acceptance particularly in the tier 2-3 towns, there may be nearly 10 million PoS terminals by 2022. The surge in demand for affordable wireless technologies and increasing demand for mobile PoS terminals is anticipated to drive the overall market for PoS terminals over this period.

The PoS solution traditionally facilitated card swipes at prominent retail stores. During the demonetisation era, they were being deployed by smaller & even micro-merchants, providing alternate payment acceptance points to fill in the void created by the absence of cash. In tier 2-3 towns, the PoS terminal has also taken up the role of Cash@POS, i.e. a micro-ATM. According to the RBI guidelines, a consumer can withdraw Rs 1,000 in tier-1 and -2 cities, whereas Rs 2,000 can be withdrawn in tier-3 to tier-6 cities per day per card. Withdrawing cash from your next door Mom & Pop store instead of an ATM isn’t a dream anymore.

After nearly 1.5 years of demonetisation, despite the push towards digital initiatives by the Government of India, the challenge today is finding enough payment acceptance points for the ever-growing portfolio of digital modes of payments. Imagine you walk up to a shop; purchase your favourite chips & soda and you mention your UPI ID to the shopkeeper and he says he can’t accept payment via UPI, so you use the e-wallet and try to make payment and he says he can’t accept that too. Such a situation defies the sole purpose of digital payments options – convenience to the end-consumers.

Now imagine a multi-faceted PoS device, transformed into a business management tool and capable of solving this problem. Modern PoS device is slim and sophisticated which can be integrated into multiple selling environments. They are evolved versions of their previous counterparts; and smarter with multiple features embedded in them. For instance, the latest SMART PoS acts as a single payment acceptance platform for all types of popular digital modes available – debit and credit cards, BHIM UPI, Remote++, Bharat QR and even contactless Tap & Pay which will be the new way of paying using your smartphone in the near future. This upgraded SMART PoS is designed to enable your retailer to accept payment from the method of your (end-consumer) choice and on a secure payment platform.

As a consumer, be ready to get surprised if your Mom & Pop store offers you loyalty points for shopping there. Next time when you order food at home, you need not worry about cash. You can just swipe your card on the PoS device. Yes, that is because smaller stores and home delivery retailers are accepting PoS devices that offer pay-on-the-go. These devices can be connected using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, completely bypassing the need for a centralized PoS station. Besides, modern PoS devices are enabling smaller merchants to run their own loyalty programs at a very economical rate to retain their customers. Additionally, there are cloud-based PoS terminals, which are gaining traction mainly due to easy operation and data security that these terminals offer.

When it comes to listing the benefits of PoS for consumers, it just doesn’t stop there. From enabling cash withdrawal at a grocery store to allowing ‘tip-transaction’ at a restaurant, the new & smarter PoS solutions will integrate many more services, like inventory management, providing special offers to particular customers after analysing their buying behaviour and thus empowering the retail sales team and enhancing the end-consumer experience. PoS deployment across fuel outlets, organised and un-organised retail including railways etc. have provided added convenience to the consumers at it enables fast, hassle-free and an easy way to make payment.

With time, PoS will become a ubiquitous part of the business interconnecting the entire retail value chain. With payment at its heart, it will accept whatever payment mechanism the customer prefers and even combine multiple sources to meet a single bill. PoS will be an irreplaceable tool that will make life smarter and simpler for all the retailers and consumers.

(By Ravi B Goyal, Chairman & Managing Director, AGS Transact Technologies Limited)

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