HDFC Bank on Tuesday announced a software upgrade to create a single point-of-sale (PoS) machine which will accept payments through Unified Payments Interface (UPI), BharatQR, SMS Pay and the bank’s mobile wallet, in addition to the traditional mode of swiping cards. The bank plans to carry out a software upgrade of its existing base of 4 lakh PoS machines to create what it calls a DigiPoS at no cost to merchants. While UPI and BharatQR were launched in August 2016 and January 2017 respectively, they are yet to find widespread acceptance with merchants. Speaking at an event to announce the launch of DigiPoS, Parag Rao, country head for card payment products, merchant acquiring services and marketing at HDFC Bank, attributed the slower adoption of some new-age modes of payment to the multiplicity of devices involved. “The way it typically happens is that somebody comes to the merchant and asks him to download this or that app on his smartphone. When there are so many devices, he is confused,” Rao said.
The smartphone as a payment-acceptance device is also an inconvenience as it cannot be carried out of the store and, therefore, there was a need for a single device that would enable all kinds of digital payments and generate a single reconciliation report. The bank aims to close this gap with its latest upgrade. According to data released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for June, HDFC Bank had 4.23 lakh PoS terminals deployed across the country and accounted for over 15% of the total number of PoS machines. The bank clocked 31.4 million PoS transactions in June — about 29% of the total volumes in the banking system.
Rao said the software for DigiPoS has been developed in-house by the bank’s engineers. All merchants acquired by the bank henceforth will be brought on board the new platform. The upgraded device will also allow merchants to offer equated monthly instalment (EMI)-based payments using HDFC Bank credit and debit cards. AP Hota, who recently retired as managing director and chief executive officer of National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), said developments like DigiPoS will help the process of digitisation. “Customers of varying profiles can make use of the same platform. So, merchants need not invest in multiple devices. It is definitely a change for the better and it will be the trend forward,” he said.
The one mode of digital payments the upgrade will not encompass is the Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AEPS), launched earlier this year. AEPS requires merchants to attach a biometric authentication device to their smartphones to allow bank account-to-bank account money transfer. The industry is understood to be waiting for the government to standardise the software and hardware to be used for AEPS. Hota said bringing AEPS on to PoS devices is not impossible. “If the biometric device, either external or inbuilt, is part of the system, it can very well do AEPS transactions,” he said.