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Tata gains momentum in mobile wallet race

Saturday, 28 December 2013 - 7:33am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

In India’s Rs 6,500-crore mobile wallet market, mRupee, Tata Teleservices’s service, is giving established operators Airtel (which offers Airtel Money) and Vodafone (m-pesa) a run for their money. It has reported a 20% on-month growth since April with 35% repeat customers.

Launched in March and available across 2,000 outlets in 15 cities, mRupee now sees around 2.50 lakh transactions per month with an average transaction value of Rs 3,800.

Encouraged by the strong response, Tata is planning to expand the service to 4,000 outlets in 26 cities by March 2014. Pradeep Kumar Sampath, COO of Mobi Wallet Payments Systems (MMPL), a 100% subsidiary of TTSL, said, “We have tied up with 35 merchants and are planning to increase this to 100 partner merchants by March.”

With 1.4 million subscribers in the July-September quarter, Airtel Money, which launched its mobile wallet services in February 2012 and is now available in 27 states, clocked business worth Rs 654 crore, up almost 10 times on-year, with an average value per transaction of Rs 276.

Vodafone’s m-pesa, launched in August, is available in 11 states, and is rapidly expanding its outlets. Idea Cellular, which received its mobile banking licence from the RBI earlier this month, is yet to launch a full suite of mobile wallet services – its Idea My Cash offers only mobile money transfers.

Tata’s m-wallet service is semi-closed, meaning users can make payments only up to Rs 10,000, unlike the open wallet’s Rs 50,000 limit. So, it targets the urban user and is operator-agnostic, meaning it allows non-Tata subscribers to use mRupee, which explains its momentum over Airtel Money and m-pesa which are available only for their own customers.

Tata’s mRupee is also targeting the retail space as the e-commerce market in India is estimated to touch Rs 7,200 crore by 2015. It has tie-ups with online merchants for hotel and ticket bookings, direct-to-home and mobile recharge, utility bill payments. mRupee expects to grow this business  30% per month, and is planning tie-ups with offline retailers as well shortly as the mobile wallet ecosystem grows.

As per Gartner estimates, the Asia-Pacific mobile wallet market is estimated to be worth $74 billion in transaction value currently, and is set to reach $165 billion by 2016. India is expected to be a major contributor to this.

What’s a mobile wallet & how does it work?
Typically, a consumer creates an m-wallet account on his mobile phone with a minimum amount (which could even be Rs 10). S/he will maintain a certain amount of prepaid balance. This amount will be debited for cash transfers to another mobile phone or for utility bill payments, ticket bookings, so on. Per-transaction charge is about 1.5-2% of the deal amount.

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