The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a behavioural shift in terms of cash usage with people withdrawing large amounts from ATMs but opting for digital modes for making payments.
The force of COVID’s second wave has shaken people, making them resort to withdrawing large amounts from the ATMs, in order to avert frequent visits. This money is generally held for purposes like emergency use with the payments being made via UPI and varying digital modes.
One of the platforms that has been stirred by this shifting digital wave is PayNearby. In this blog we have discussed PayNearby’s leveraged technologies as well as the systems, products and services they offer and the impact of COVID19 on the platform in detail. All the information has been obtained in-depth exclusively by Anand Kumar Bajaj, CEO and MD of PayNearby.
The DIPP Certified Fintech company PayNearby was founded by Anand Kumar Bajaj, Subhash Kumar, Yashwant Lodha & Rajesh Jha in the year 2016. It is the biggest branchless banking and digital payments network. Paynearby supplies a variety of financial and non-financial services to the masses across the country to the unbanked and underbanked through a robust financial inclusion model built on local retail networks.
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The platform’s range of services include Aadhaar banking, money transfers, utility bill payments, insurance, cash deposits, gold loan, and access to government benefits (DBT) amongst others. Local communities across 17,000 plus PIN codes access PayNearby through its 15+ lakh retail touchpoints.
“We have also added OTT, e-learning and e-commerce amongst other services since the onset of COVID-19, as consumers strived for everything digital. At the moment, PayNearby trade app has 25+ services listed on it, and we are developing a one-stop-shop model to ensure that all individuals and organizations can access financial services within their targeted locality, and are steered towards a less-cash economy. We aim to offer banking and digital services to every citizen in the country at a store nearby.”
- Anand Kumar Bajaj, CEO and MD of PayNearby
PayNearby was set up to provide last stage access of basic financial services to India’s humongous underserved population, which has been left behind when the country took in financial technology over the last decade.
The platform presently has a GTV of 54,000 crores and serves over 15 crore Indians across a range of products and services.
The financial foundations of PayNearby are based on strong unit economics and on establishing a business that delivers value and positive economies to all its stakeholders.
The platform is funded by Roha Group, the Tibrewala family owned Billion Dollar conglomerate with interests in various sectors.
“PayNearby has always been at the forefront of bridging the urban-rural divide and creating a level playing ground. We have done this on several occasions - whether it is by providing financial services to the unbanked and underbanked, or by rising to national duty during the pandemic by ensuring timely and secure relief packages and remittances to the underprivileged sections of the society.”
With the pandemic reaching its peak and businesses shutting down at an alarming rate, leading to the economy coming to a grinding halt, it was the poorest who were hit the hardest.
Domestic remittances, generally from large cities and affluent areas, plunged about 80%, influenced by a sudden loss of jobs and the return of the migrant workers to their base towns, leading to a considerable loss of earnings for this segment.
As a result, the founders undertook the initiative of launching JobsNearby, a platform that aims to combat the burgeoning issue of daily earnings and job losses of thousands of migrant workers.
Through their vast network across the country, the company has created a platform where out-of-job workers can register themselves and find a suitable placement.
“We aimed to aggregate a wholesome database and reach out to these people by helping them register through the network. This unique initiative is an attempt to create a platform that is apt for the blue-collar migrant workers in urban areas.”
On the supply side, the platform identified and collaborated with multiple partners, which include banks, NGOs, global foundations and other aggregators. The registered workers can be placed with these partners.
Services offered by PayNearby
PayNearby has been headstrong in its endeavor to uplift the technology shy population and take them up the digital curve, ensuring that the perks offered by digital advancements can be enjoyed by a larger number of people.
Through its Digital Pradhan network, PayNearby has empowered retailers for offering financial services to local communities through assisted tech-led modules, as a result, enhancing financial inclusion at the last stage.
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The basic focus of the technology team is creating user-experience-based products that aid the platform’s retailers in servicing their customers in an improved manner.
PayNearby adopts advanced analytics, AI, and machine learning for creating easy and efficient micro experiences for its retailers. These technologies allow the platform to offer a range of exclusive services at a single click to its end customers.
The company has set up a single, powerful unified platform for all data requirements. Real-time customer analytics were also put in place for helping customers in making informed decisions.
“With the right partnerships and big data available at PayNearby (through the processing of millions of transactions every day), we have not only created an impeccable technology architecture but also automated the backend that helps us to scale up and handle volumes.“
Constantly boosting and evolving its features and services, PayNearby has added multiple features and updates for keeping its retailers at par with the industry fluctuations while also simultaneously automating processes to eliminate redundancies.
The platform’s modules leverage technologies like AI, big data analytics, and predictive tools to help lure millions of unbanked Indians, who are generally excluded from the financial ecosystem.
PayNearby’s founders hit the realization that the majority section of India is still excluded from the formal economy and has minimal degree of access to basic financial services. With the advanced perks mainly being reduced to the fortunate 10% of the nation’s population, the digital divide becomes more pronounced.
“We also realized that Bharat was largely technology shy and needed to be handheld to the next stage of development and hence the company was created to set up the world’s largest assisted agent banking network that will granulize, sachetize and universalize financial services and make it available to every Indian.”
- Anand Kumar Bajaj, CEO and MD of PayNearby
Kick-started in April 2016, PayNearby was established on a B2B2C model. The platform partners with neighborhood retail stores to offer assisted financial and digital commerce services to its customers.
PayNearby Partner stores across 17,000 plus PIN codes offer a range of services to local communities, ranging from cash withdrawal, domestic remittance, Bachat Khata, access to government benefit funds to insurance.
“Financial services need to be available to the masses in a format that they can easily access, trust and consume effortlessly. Thus, our vision has always been that all individuals find financial services in their locality and are assisted towards a less-cash economy.”
COVID has triggered a considerable shift in the people’s behavioural patterns, offering an excellent advantage to digital transactions in the financial context.
Aadhaar ATM witnessed a massive rise across all PayNearby retail stores, largely driven by the upsurge in its adoption in rural, semi-urban and tier-II towns. COVID has played the role of a catalyst in leading to the wide application of digital solutions, revolutionising the transaction approach of the masses.
PayNearby’s annual figures reported AePS withdrawals worth Rs. 10,000 Crores in Q4 FY 2021 as against Rs. 7,650 Crores vis-à-vis the same quarter in the past year.
Even during the nationwide lockdown, our agents worked tirelessly to facilitate cash withdrawal and transfer – conducting over 7-8 lakh transactions per day. 93% of our retailers were working as cash disbursal touchpoints, providing accessibility to the government’s relief funds.
Throughout the pandemic, PayNearby’s retail partners have worked towards supplying daily essential financial services. In spite of the struggles added by COVID, the platform has still managed to disburse Rs. 3,000+ Crore of AePS withdrawals per month in FY 20-21.
“Our company has enabled financial inclusion worth ₹775 crores to the consumers in 115 backward aspirational districts, identified by NITI AAYOG.”
Adding to the platform’s various partnerships with banks, they have also allowed small-ticket contactless payments at the last stage for driving effortless digital acceptance through the shift of smartphones into merchant Point of Sale (PoS) terminals.
PayNearby quickened its various brands and verticals, such as JobsNearby, BuyNearby and InsureNearby in 2020.
“We have also come up with customised insurance products exclusively for our retail partners and are trying to add as many relevant services to our bouquet. We are pleased that our Digital Pradhans have shown great resilience and spirit of selfless service throughout the pandemic and provided uninterrupted service to ensure citizens had access to essential financial services.”
The platform has worked towards offering retailers access to livelihood, insurance, savings alongside a variety of products in the financial services spectrum.
The company has also tied up with Centrum MicroCredit and is presently offering its retail partners with access to credit at affordable interest rates.
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Alongside adding services and verticals to its business, the platform has used its network for aiding citizens in enrolling for the vaccination program. It aims to cinch 10 crore citizens for COVID-19 vaccine registration from kirana stores.
“From 15,00,000+ retailers as of now to 50,00,000+ retailers in the very near future, PayNearby has set itself aggressive goals to ramp up and be the port of call for assisted banking services in the county. We plan to diversify our operations geographically and expand our offering to fulfill the dream of a financially inclusive India. The company also wants to foray into international markets and is actively evaluating Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and South Asia in the near future.”
PayNearby’s vision is to offer a positive, social, and economic impact in the lives of its retailers and customers.
The platform aims to empower small merchants, retailers, SMEs by offering them working capital requirements and the liberty of applying for a loan.
It also hopes to benefit retailers in building a sturdy credit history, which would ultimately help in making it eligible for taking larger and lengthy duration loans from banks, which would in turn empower the retailers through financial backing for ensuring that their businesses function smoothly.
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