Indian Bitcoin heavyweight Unocoin, sometimes referred to as ‘the Coinbase of India’ due to offering similar services, announced an integration with leading mobile wallet in India, MobiKwik, on Thursday.
The announcement followed news of their partnership with MobiKwik earlier this month to “let Unocoin users topup their MobiKwik wallets through bitcoin,” and is now live on the website.
During an initial testing period, the minimum amount that can be loaded into the MobiKwik wallet using Bitcoin is 10 Indian rupees, worth approximately 15 cents USD, and the maximum is 2,000 rupees, about US$30.
“Over the past year, our web traffic has increased by more than 500%. We added more than 6,000 users just last month alone and our volume is skyrocketing.”
Having made its debut in December 2013, at India's first Global Bitcoin Conference, Unocoin started full operation in February 2014, after previously offering services on a trial basis. In April of this year, Unocoin business was transferred to Unocoin Technologies Private Limited, a fully-owned subsidiary of a Singaporean holding company, Unocoin Technologies Pte Ltd.
Prior to the integration with MobiKwik, Unocoin launched its Point of Sale (PoS) merchant mobile app for accepting bitcoin in April, called the “Unocoin PoS.“ The app is available on both Play store for Android and Appstore for iOS.
MobiKwik wallet is a product of parent company One Mobikwik Systems Private Limited, and can be described as an Indian version of Paypal. Incorporated in 2008, the company is based in Gurgaon, India, and provides a platform for online mobile recharge and paying bills online. It enables users to pay for landline phone bills, postpaid cellphones, electricity, insurance, television/DTH, data card/Internet, and even gas bills online and through their app.
Today, MobiKwik is India’s largest independent mobile payments network, connecting over 30 million users with 75,000 retailers. The company received a PrePaid Payment Instrument license from the Reserve Bank of India in July 2013.
Available on iOS, Android, Windows, and Web browsers, MobiKwik users can shop online and offline, pay bills, recharge, send money and accept payments with 1-tap. Payments can be made in less than 10 seconds after logging in.
“You can recharge, pay bills, shop at your favorite online & offline merchant, and transfer money to other MobiKwik wallets (even banks!) in a flash!”
Merchants that have integrated with MobiKwik include Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, eBay, Uber, GoDaddy, WHSmith India, Cleartrip, IRCTC, Meru Cabs, Shuttl, Big Bazaar, OYO Rooms, Zomato, Barista, PVR, Archies, BookMyShow, Grofers, Big Basket, ShopClues, Myntra, Jabong, Pepperfry, MakeMyTrip, Sagar Ratna, TastyKhana, JustEat, PVR, Snapdeal, HomeShop18, Naaptol, Fashionara, FashionAndYou, Ferns N Petals, Café Coffee Day, and Yatra. Bitcoin sent through Unocoin can now be used to purchase anything at all of these merchants and more.
When shopping using MobiKwik, users can also earn payback points and cashback, such as 10% cashback on Dominos Pizza purchases. As of February this year, there are 1,004 Domino's Pizza restaurants across 230 cities in India. Jubilant FoodWorks Limited of Jubilant Bhartia Group Company, operates Domino's Pizza brand with exclusive rights for India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, although it was not announced if bitcoin can be spent through MobiKwik in those other countries.
In July 2015, Uber India entered into a partnership with MobiKwik. The move followed the Reserve Bank of India’s decision to make it “mandatory for all taxi companies to follow the two-factor authentication for payments whenever the card is not presented physically.”
By partnering with MobiKwik, Uber is “abiding by the RBI and showing its commitment towards the Indian market,” according to the press release at the time. At the time of this writing, there is no other way to pay for Uber services in India.
With the majority of the country holding smartphones today, and full market penetration of the world’s most populous country occurring by 2020, bitcoin stands to be in far more hands now that Unocoin has partnered with the country’s largest independent mobile payments network.
India had an estimated population of over 1.26 billion people, and a GDP of $2.049 trillion in 2014, according to the World Bank. The bank’s Global Findex Database released in April 2015 states that approximately “2 billion adults, or 38 percent of all adults worldwide, remain excluded from the financial system today.” In addition, India, China, and Indonesia collectively account for almost 40 percent of unbanked adults globally.
“India is home to 21 percent of the world’s unbanked and about two-thirds of South Asia’s. China accounts for 12 percent of unbanked adults globally and Indonesia for 6 percent; together they are home to 7 of every 10 unbanked adults living in East Asia and the Pacific.”
- The World Bank
According to an independent report by JM Financial Institutional Securities Limited, India is still a cash-intensive economy, with a cash-to-GDP ratio of over 12%. An estimated 95% of consumer transactions in volumes in India are carried out in cash compared with 40-50% for advanced economies. However, electronic clearing and Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) are expected to grow.
A report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that the market for PPIs, which includes mobile wallets, is growing in India. Tailored for low margin, high-volume business, they provide “convenient and secure options for small payments and transfers and setting up assisted touchpoints for cash loading and cash out, acting as Banking Correspondents, and creating a layer of service provider,” the PwC report states.
Moreover, PwC report states that within less than 18 months, PPIs contributed to more than 40% of all Immediate Payment Service transactions between banks and connected non-banks.
All of this is happening at a time when mobile and smartphone usage, in particular, is rapidly growing in India. Earlier this year India became home to Freedom 251, the world’s first smartphone under $5. Selling for 251 rupees, it’s currently priced at only US$3.70, making them affordable to almost all of India.
Swedish communication technology and services provider Ericsson released a report showing that mobile subscriptions grew the most in India in 2015, with net additions during the fourth quarter of 21 million users, followed by China with six million, and then the US with only five million new users. The total number of mobile subscriptions at the end of 2015 was approximately 7.3 billion, very close to even with the world population.
Ericsson also released a separate report, known as the India appendix of the Ericsson Mobility Report for the first time in June 2015, showing that India has experienced tremendous growth in wireless subscribers in recent years.
“The total number of mobile subscriptions in India is expected to increase to approximately 1.4 billion by 2020, resulting in a population penetration of 100 percent. This growth will primarily be driven by the increasing affordability of devices and services.” - Ericsson
The number of smartphone subscriptions are expected to reach over 750 million by 2020, up from 130 million in 2014.