Virtues of a Mobile Wallet
Mobile wallets are great for small-value transactions
 
India has more mobile subscribers than bank account-holders. So, using the mobile as a platform for new age services makes great sense. While mobile apps from banks have become popular, there is a large number of people who think using mobile for financial transactions is risky. 
Now, let us see how a mobile wallet (another form of mobile payments) works. The mobile wallet is a virtual equivalent of your physical wallet. It stores information about your bank account, credit or debit card and personal identifaction details, like permanent account number (PAN) or driving licence number. This requires very strong security, for protecting the stored as well as transaction data. Due to the absense of standards and norms, the mobile wallet is creating some quirky moments. For example, State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) tied up with State Bank of India (SBI) to offer MobiCash, a mobile wallet that promises users to withdraw money from SBI ATMs. However, BSNL officials are clueless about how this will happen, especially for withdrawing money without an ATM card. 
 
At present, Paytm, MobiKwik, Oxigen and Citrus are the leading mobile wallet service-providers in India, licensed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). As per the current norms, a user can load money on her mobile wallet and use it for making payments to merchants which have a tie-up with that wallet service-provider. For example, a user of Paytm can make payment only to a merchant which has a tie-up with Paytm and, thus, can accept mobile money. But things are changing rapidly; soon users may be allowed to withdraw money through mobile wallet. In addition, the user cannot deposit more than Rs10,000 on her mobile wallet without fulfilling RBI’s know your customer (KYC) norms.
 
What is the advantage of using a mobile wallet over conventional or online payment systems? There are two major factors that go in favour of using mobile wallets. First, your personal details, especially financial information like bank account number, are not exposed. And, second, it limits your exposure in terms of value transactions, because you can upload (in most cases) just Rs10,000 without the KYC checks. So even if there is some issue with the mobile wallet (not likely, though), you may end up losing a maximum Rs10,000 as against losing every single penny in your bank account, in case your account is compromised.
 
How can you use a mobile wallet? Well, first identify the service that you would be using for making small payments. Then, check which is the common mobile wallet available for most of the services and use it. But make sure, you upload the amount sufficient to pay for services that you would be using. 
 
The advantage of using mobile wallet is that it requires minimum effort from the user to make a payment. However, with RBI planning to make online payments through one-step authentication, mobile wallets may lose the advantage. But, as I said earlier, for small value transactions, mobile wallets are still the best bet, provided the service-providers make sure to bring every merchant on their platform. 
 
While there are about a dozen mobile wallet service-providers in India, each has tie-ups with different kinds of merchants. This means, for each type of service, you will have to use different mobile wallet; this explains why, despite a rise in number of mobile wallet users, there is no huge jump in terms of transactions and revenues. Hopefully, soon, big players like Google Wallet or Apple Pay, which are now available in the US, will be allowed to make an entry in India and the rest, as they say, will fall in place. 
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    Consumer Interest   Exclusive
    Who Cares for ‘R-urban’ Consumers?
    While BSNL Internet service in rural areas is the pits, private ISPs, like Tata DoCoMo and Airtel, are simply not interested
     
    This writer has been a Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) landline and broadband Internet customer for over 10 years now. For the past few years, I have been living in a village called Parkala, which is a hop, skip and jump away from the educational, medical and financial hub of Manipal, close to the temple town of Udupi in coastal Karnataka.
     
    As a typical Internet addict—and with no TV connection (cable or otherwise) whatsoever—most of my waking hours are spent browsing the net. This is also my main link with the world and my extended family and friends. I read major newspapers and online news portals, some on a daily basis and others occasionally whenever a link from Facebook or Twitter lead to the stories; my online viewing was mainly the garrulous Arnab Goswami, until a few months back when he became unbearable for my family who, in turn, threatened me with dire consequences if peace in the house was disturbed!
     
    And throughout all this, bearing the pathetic service from BSNL, the government’s communications provider.
     
    My troubles with BSNL are ancient, almost ever since I took the monopoly service. I had a long litany of complaints, relating mainly to the Internet connection and, occasionally to landline disruption. I have also seen the pathetic state of BSNL exchanges where, I am told, cannibalisation of equipment was a frequent occurrence. If there was a problem in one exchange and the complaints became intolerable, the ‘card’ from the exchange was swapped with a functional one from another exchange.
     
    Often, copper wires were the culprits, the weather being blamed by the linemen, who had to face the brunt of subscribers’ ire. In my locality, overloaded trucks used to frequently bring down the phone wires.
     
    Of course, on several occasions, it was the ‘Chinese-made’ ‘card’ problem at the exchange itself. But no one was willing to accept it officially. Many times, the relations between the linemen and the district sub-divisional officers (telecom), or SDOTs, whom I had to contact in exasperation, were strained. One young SDOT told me: “We cannot force the linemen to respond immediately; because they will immediately complain against us for caste discrimination.” It is another matter that the linemen used to frequently grumble that the SDOTs put pressure on them unnecessarily. There was this claim of perennial shortage of staff as well.
     
    If it was the shortage of staff on one side, it was also the availability of spare ‘cards’, cables and other equipment. If a lineman told the SDOT that the cable needed to be replaced, the process would be caught in bureaucratic tangles.
     
    And, sometimes, they used to blame the modem also! Once, I took it to the deputy general manager’s office for testing; the person there did not even see this modem brand and said it was not functional. The dealer, from whom I had purchased, tested it and said it was OK. Mysteriously, the next day, the Internet connection was back to normal.
     
    On another occasion, I took the modem to the exchange and they said it was perfectly fine and blamed the Chinese ‘card’. The new SDOT came once to my house and promised to come again and do a comprehensive check. He did not. This was about two-three months ago. To cut the story short, my BSNL broadband Internet connection is on, more as an exception than a rule!
     
    Thus, I started looking for an alternative service-provider. I looked at Google Guru and short-listed two: Airtel and Tata DoCoMo, who have a presence in the area.
     
    I contacted Airtel first through the call centre number given on their website. After all, the sweet talk, right from their offices in Delhi to their branch office in Manipal, I was given an answer: Sorry, there is no connection available in your area. Mind you, my house is just 3km away from their branch office! I also happened to speak to an Airtel executive, who told me that the local manager was not interested in expanding the services and they lost many consumers.
     
    A couple of months ago, I saw Tata DoCoMo’s service at a local three-star hotel, where, thanks to the owner, I was given access to the Internet in the manager’s office. The speeds were good—compared to BSNL’s service—and I was impressed. But not as satisfactory as the service I had in Hyderabad in 2011-12, where I used to pay just about Rs1,000 per month for a 10MbPS connection and that, too, with the rare breakdowns.
     
    So I looked up Tata DoCoMo’s website and called them. After three-four phone calls, I was told that they only provide service in apartment buildings, where at least 80% residents agree to subscribe. Besides, they averred, I live in an area where there did not have any lines!
     
    Few days back, on 5 June 2015, I put out a series of tweets regarding my grouse with BSNL (they did not respond) and how villages and small towns (R-urban) are way beyond the radars of these big companies (and not only telecom service-providers, but by almost all major FMCG companies), who treat us villagers as guinea pigs and dump third-rate goods and services on us.
     
    Responses from the telco giants on Twitter were immediate, followed by phone calls. Yet, I bet my favourite mysorepak (a very popular sweet) that I will not get a connection from either Airtel or Tata DoCoMo in a hurry. And, lo and behold! At the end of the day, I ended up saving a few dozen rupees!
     
    “We don’t have a service there,” was the common thread among the two.
     
    Meanwhile, I plan to attend the BSNL Telephone Adalat, which will be held in the third week of June 2015 but am keeping my fingers crossed. Even in the first week of June 2015, there was a ‘server issue’ at BSNL and services were affected all over Karnataka for four or five days.
     
    Footnote: Dear Mr Narendra Modi: If you happen to read this piece, let me say this. I doubt if your idea of ‘Digital India’ will ever take off; with such disdain for consumers, it might be a tall order. I don’t think it will happen during your stewardship of this nation as its Pradhan Sewak.
     
    (Shrikant N Shenoy has been a journalist since 1980, having worked in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Dubai. He launched a news portal and an online Konkani language channel from Manipal, Udupi, but ran out of money. In 2011, he successfully launched an English newspaper with five editions simultaneously on a shoe-string budget. He tweets as @udupinet.)
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    COMMENTS

    Mohamed Abbas Ali

    5 years ago

    Why not use CDMA data cards, they are relatively cheaper. And offers better connectivity. Been living in small town Pollachi TamilNay and I get a decent network where there is no 3 star hotel!

    Well I agree with BSNL quality of service, even their CDMA 3g datacards have frequent problems, as it shall not be impacted by wires being cut, still doesnt work!

    vishal navlani

    5 years ago

    Dear Shrikant N Shenoy,

    I salute you for the efforts you have put in to get your way. I must say that you are very process oriented and have found the right way to get your work done. This is a learning lesson for people who cannot get their work done and put up their hands in despair.

    I seriously urge you to give me some task in your struggle so that I learn something from you. You can delegate me some task to communicate with authorities. My name is Vishal and currently residing in Bangalore. My mobile number is 8904307015 and mail id is [email protected]. I have experience of getting my work done using RTI. If I can be of any use to your struggle then I will consider myself very much honored and blessed.

    TIHARwale

    5 years ago

    In Delhi MTNL is already gone to dogs. Lines man is aged so will not bring ladder to climb poles. so overhead cables will be pulled down frequently and will remain unattended

    MOHAN SIROYA

    5 years ago

    Forget about Private Telecom Operators whose prime motive is to earn more money. But like BSNL, let the State arm MTNL follow the suit . If this happens thousands will opt for MTNL service in Mumbai and Delhi ,at least as an additional SIM to be used when roaming.

    Dahyabhai S Patel

    5 years ago

    Dr. Mr. Shenoy, take hard copy of this article of yours and send it to Pradhan Sevak, Pradhan Santree, 56cm-Breast (cm, centimeter, because we are following metric system, and not FPS i.e. Foot, Pound, Second, and every Indian is supposed to follow it, and particularly CMs and PM as they are bound by the oath they are taking while assumimg their offices, so 56inch breast is simply ruled out.), Common Man (as he liked to be called when he was Gujarat CM). Do you believe him and his hype to hide his inferiority complex (to always show superiority)?!!!Alternatively, you maight use FB, Tweeter, PMO online etc.. but do send.

    SuchindranathAiyerS

    5 years ago

    BSNL doesn't care for urban customer either. BSNL is Bharath Sarkar Ki Samoathi. It exists purely for the pleasure, pomp, pel, perpetuation and perversions of it employees and over lords. I finally lost patience and chucked it up I am now on ACT. Phew! What a relief!

    NCDRC Says ‘Unfair’ Builder Contracts Not Binding
    National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) rejected the arguments of a real estate company that provisions mutually agreed upon in a builder-buyer agreement (BBA) are sacrosanct. The apex consumer court was hearing an array of cases filed by 26 buyers who, in 2009-10, had invested in Unitech’s Vistas project. Possession of flats was not handed over as promised by December 2012—not an uncommon problem in the realty sector. Forty buyers then moved NCDRC in November 2014. Of these, cases of 26 complainants were listed for final hearing, after a series of hearings over the past six months. The Commission’s verdict, though, is still reserved.
     
    “The agreement clearly mentions the developer would pay 1.8% of the amount paid as penalty, in case of delay in handing over flats,” said advocate Sunil Goel, who represented Unitech.
    But NCDRC rejected the argument on grounds that it can challenge any unfair trade practice, even if there is a prior agreement between the parties. “When the buyer is made to pay 18% penalty for default, is it fair on the developer’s part to pay a mere 1.8%?” said Justice VK Jain who heard the matter.
     
    Unitech’s counsel cited several factors, like economic slowdown, shortage of labour availability and scarcity of raw materials, all of which were dismissed by NCDRC. “When the company has already collected over 90% of the cost, why is it affected by the state of the economy? Most delays happen because developers transfer money collected in lieu of one project into another. This is a very common practice,” said Justice Jain.
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