Airtel has launched India’s first mobile wallet service by a telecom operator.
Aimed at offering customers with an efficient alternative to cash transactions, airtel money will provide airtel customers across the country with a convenient and secure way of making payments through the ubiquitous mobile platform.
In 2010, bharti airtel was granted the license to use the Semi Closed Wallet by the Reserve Bank of India (read: Airtel Gets RBI’s Nod for Mobile Payment Service [First Step to Mobile Currency]).
Currently available in Gurgaon only, Airtel has already established partnerships with several merchants (including coffee shops, restaurants etc) to accept payments via airtel money – which will gradually be scaled up to over 3,000 merchants across the city. Airtel money will subsequently be launched in Delhi NCR and several other key cities in India.
Where can you use airtel money?
- Load cash: Load cash on your airtel mobile by visiting your nearest airtel retail outlet [Minimum is Rs. 10, Maximum is Rs. 5,000 and monthly limit stands at Rs. 50, 000].
- Pay bills & recharge: You will be able to use this cash in your mobile for making bill payments (electricity, gas, financial services, etc.) and recharge – Limits same as above.
- Shop & make payments: Instead of cash, pay over-the-counter merchants such as your nearest kirana store, chemist, etc using your mobile phone. You can even sit at home and pay for services like booking movie tickets online
Airtel had recently announced a JV with State Bank of India to provide banking and financial services to millions of unbanked Indians using the mobile platform. With this launch of airtel money – airtel now offers a complete suite of financial products on mobile devices for the banked as well as unbanked population of the country.
How To use airtel money
- Register by filling in the application form and submitting KYC documents (2 photocopies of proof-of-identity, 1 copy of proof-of-address and a passport size photograph).
- After the above, your existing airtel SIM will be upgraded to the new 64K airtel SIM with airtel money
- Activate your airtel money account by choosing your MPIN.
- Load cash into your airtel money account by visiting your nearest airtel retailer
- You are now ready to send commands through the airtel money application on your phone and transact anytime, anywhere!
Airtel will charge a month subscription fee of Rs. 5/month and charges Rs. 5/payment.
Essentially, this is not a semi closed wallet service (as allowed by RBI) that enables you to add money, but not withdraw (instead, make payments/buy goods and services).
Question to ponder: Wondering what happens to mChek usage after this? Also, why is Airtel trying to do everything on its own (i.e. be the ngpay + mChek) and not build an ecosystem?