In an ever-expanding universe of digital payment solutions, Pune-based fintech start-up Phi Commerce claims it attacks the inherent problems in the eco-system. It believes there are multiple aspects that need to be considered while creating, presenting and processing digital payments such as the use case, type of service being rendered, stakeholders involved and profile of the consumers.
Phi Commerce, therefore, has developed and brought to market PayPhi —an omni channel payment processing platform that addresses the problems. A personal experience of one of the co-founders, Jose Thattil, provided the early inspiration for PayPhi. During 2014-15, when e-commerce was picking up in India, Thattil would digitally prepay for his online shopping. However, obtaining delivery was a time-consuming process involving numerous follow-up calls to the e-commerce company and the logistics partner which was delivering the consignment.
Thattil discussed this problem with his co-founding friends. They did some research which suggested that even if consumers had the means and intent to pay digitally, they opted for cash on delivery (COD) as a way to ensure timely, accurate, and quality delivery, essentially driven by low confidence in the e-commerce sites. This led the team to think how such consumers could still make digital payments but only on receipt of goods.
It would be even better if they could complete the payment remotely if required. To add to that, a simple, intuitive consumer experience that did not demand any additional app download or call for new PINs while still allowing the consumer to complete the entire transaction on their device would be just perfect.
“We developed a solution which also finds acceptability with the delivery boys as they no longer have to ensure safety of the cash collected via COD. They were not burdened with yet another clunky payment acceptance device nor had to be trained on a new payment app. This was a solution which notified them about the consumer making the payment so that they can deliver the parcel and move on.This led to the genesis of PayPhi eCOD,” says Thattil.
The PayPhi eCOD interface extracts information about cash on delivery orders, delivery and tracking information from logistics company. It sends SMS and e-mail notifications to consumers to make digital payments on delivery. PayPhi eCOD brings together all players in the COD ecosystem—e-tailer, logistics company and consumer.
The start-up has agreements in place with large private players, banks, government run PSUs to enable consumers to make cashless payments through multiple channels such as online, in-store and on-the-go, using the complete payment stack available in India.
As Thattil explains, there are various payment instruments for consumers in metros to remote villages in India— with or without a credit/debit card, with PIN for literate consumers and biometric option for illiterates, for smartphone users as well as basic feature phone users. However, in most non-discretionary spends in mass segments such as utilities, shopping at neighbourhood stores for essential provisions, educational expenses, among others, payments still happen in cash or by cheque.
The same is true for discretionary spends such as e-commerce shopping. “On closer examination of the problem, we realised that, such businesses are not able to generate digital payment opportunities for their consumers hence they continue to get paid in traditional offline modes like cash or cheque. This is where we as payments experts come in,” he said.
In 2016, Phi Commerce had received funding close to $1 million from a clutch of angel investors. The start-up now plans to expand its footprint to high-volume sectors untapped by digital payments and still dominated by cash and cheque and is looking to raise a Series A round of funding.