Beam- Micropayment service for Rural India[Review]

Beam is a micro payment service aimed at the non-banked rural population of India. Beam distributes pre-paid vouchers that one can purchase in the denomination of Rs. 100-1000 and load their account, against the mobile number, through IVRS or SMS.  Once the account is loaded you can use the service to pay utility bills, shopping, travel etc. One does not need any bank account to use the service.

The service can be positioned as a payment collection service for online shopping. You can shop/book tickets on their site and then use your Beam account to pay for the service. The company will be distributing the vouchers through franchisees called Beam Sahayaks. In future they will also distribute micro-finance to the rural audience.

The strategy seems to be a little confused. They claim of serving the rural crowd but the agency is targeting the urban youth.

A related opportunity could be micro-transfers, wherein the migrated rural crowd could use the service to transfer money to their family’s Beam account back home. The family member could then transfer the value to the Beam Sahayaks account in the village and receive cash. This could be a alternative to money order.

On the face of it the service seems to have no differentiator from ITZCash cards.

Do you think rural crowd is ready for mobile payment? Is this a good approach to distributing micro credit?

[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]

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