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Embedded Credit – A great lever for B2B e-commerce platforms

Merchants & retailers rely on credit to run and grow their businesses and expand their customer base. Easy access to credit, facilitated by embedded finance, enables merchants to purchase more stock, widen their product portfolio, respond to fluctuating demand, buy high-value SKUs (which could be slow-moving), and increase the space and assets in their store. Embedded Finance has shown to double the Average Order Value and Customer Lifetime Value for B2B E-Commerce platforms, depending on the sector (whitegoods, groceries, pharma, apparel, etc). 

Embedded Credit is basically when non-financial companies offer their customers access to credit through their technology platform. Popular examples in India are Khatabook, Arzooo etc. who are facilitating working capital loans to their partner merchants/retailers. Embedded finance also enables banks, insurers, and wealth management companies to form valuable partnerships to distribute their products and services. According to one Forrester report 2020, embedded finance is touted to be a USD 7 trillion opportunity globally by 2030.

Very few merchants are approved for loans by formal channels and have to acquire credit from informal sources. Such credit is either too small to have an impact or offered at terms that don’t facilitate their growth in the long term. B2B E-Commerce platforms that have the ability to offer credit can relieve these bottlenecks for merchants and unlock growth for both, their merchants and themselves.


So how do B2B e-commerce platforms facilitate embedded credit?


Digital platforms catering to merchants and distributors can offer tailored credit products in-context at the point of demand creation on their platform. Few examples of fintechs operating in this space and facilitating embedded credit options are retail-tech Arzooo, Accounting-tech Khatabook to name a few. Please find an illustrative flow chart for better understanding.



 Advantages for all the parties involved 


Lender Partner
B2B E-commerce Marketplace
Retailer Partner
  • Gets access to increase the portfolio of disbursals via B2B e-comm partner
  • Streamlined pipeline of leads who have fund requirement
  • Open up new revenue streams
  • B2B e-comm partner provides risk sharing
  • Facilitates lines of credit through mobile app 
  • Helps increase wallet share from retailer
  • Increase retailer retention
  • Become a preferred supplier to retailers
  • Access to working capital loans through mobile app
  • Helps merchants better manage cash flows for SKU purchase & other business related expenses with flexible repayment plans


The key in this scenario is to provide tailored credit products as part of the digital platform.


Line of Credit  
  Merchant Cash Advance  
  Working Capital Loans
Fulfil demand hikes due to seasonality & festivals Merchants can meet their short-term liquidity requirements from lender partners wherein the lender partner settles the outstanding invoice amount with the supplier Avail working capital loans from lender partners of the B2B platform to meet contingencies, better manage cash flows & expand their business


Why Embedded Finance?


Embedded Finance Infrastructure natively enables credit for all merchants within a B2B E-Commerce platform. It handles the end-to-end lending flow, including the customer journey, loan offer generation, lender partnerships, and third-party integrations, repayment etc.


Digital lending platform
Increased approval Rates
Best Loan Offers
Customised Credit products
Intuitive UI/UX for each stage of the loan lifecycle – loan application, post-approval & post disbursal. The loan application process is completely mobile app native. Embedded Finance combines lending expertise, alternative data writing and data from the B2B e-comm platform to credit score & underwrite merchants & approve more disbursals. Embedded Finance connects digital platforms to a large and diverse lender network which ensures that your merchants get the best loan offers and have a high probability of being approved. Embedded Finance enables platforms to innovate, evolve & tailor credit products to serve the various use-cases of customers in deep collaboration with the anchor platform.


In conclusion


Ultimately, Embedded Finance enables digital platforms to leverage their unique position to help their merchants. It empowers B2B E-Commerce businesses to innovate for their customers, offer effective credit products, and provide credit to customers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access it. This sharply accelerates their own growth and the growth of their retail partners.

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Will the internet-free digital payments UPI Lite take off in India?

What is UPI Lite?


The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is working on a new solution called UPI Lite that will allow small digital payments to be made without the need for an active internet connection. The RBI announced on January 5 that digital payments of up to 200 could be made without an internet connection.


How does it work?


UPI Lite will allow feature phone users to use their phones to connect to UPI networks and make digital payments directly from their bank accounts. There are currently two key solutions being evaluated. The first is a SIM Overlay, while the second is a software-provisioned solution that will use Over-the-Air (OTA) updates.


SIM Overlay is a technique that extends a phone’s SIM card’s capabilities, allowing payments and other services to be completed even when there is no data connection. On the other hand, OTA will deliver the solution straight to the device’s firmware.


Users will be required to create a 4-digit or a 6-digit pin, depending on the protocols implemented by their banks. Payments made via the SIM overlay technique will be routed through the NPCI’s UPI system to servers operated by the NPCI, and transactions will then take place over the standard UPI network. Instead of using the internet, the entire procedure will run over SMS networks.


How does it affect the Indian ecosystem?


Since the demonetisation of banknotes in 2016, India has experienced a surge in digital payments. According to a survey, tier-II and -III cities in India accounted for more than half of all online transactions in the quarter ending March 2021. In villages and towns, though, cash still reigns supreme.


According to an industry expert, an alternative, secure, low-cost mode of payments with a near-cash-like characteristic will be provided by small value offline mode for digital payments, improving consumer confidence as a preferred option for small retail payments. It has the potential to promote various creative retail payment use cases, such as tickets, product bundling and non-standardised pricing.


Given that feature phones still account for half of the market, this will improve payments in areas where internet penetration is low.


This is not the first time the NPCI has attempted to promote offline payments in rural areas. In 2012, it launched UPI-led offline payments over Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) networks. However, due to SMS charges, it failed to take off in a large way. 

According to NPCI data, the USSD system was used for transactions worth 1.21 lakh in 2021. Around 83 banks were using the USSD system as of December 2021.

If NPCI’s current experiments go as planned, about 350 million feature phone users in India will be able to make digital payments without the need for an internet connection.

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Union Budget 2022 laid the foundation and gave a blueprint of the economy for the next 25 years – from India at 75 to India at 100, with the focus on fast-tracking the economy, providing opportunities to businesses, and creating six million new jobs.


Among the range of significant announcements, the reforms on Digital currency finally caught everyone’s attention.


With the tremendous increase in transactions of virtual digital assets worldwide, the Indian Government in the Budget 2022 has proposed to launch digital rupee by the central bank in FY 2022-23. It also plans to tax income from digital asset transfers at 30%.


The introduction of these reforms clearly is a big boost to the digital economy. The government providing the basic infrastructure and rails for CBDC will lead to a more efficient and cheaper currency management system. All this will eventually lead to elimination of cash to a great extent and promote all such digital assets in future.


Further to increase its adoption in future, the regulatory authorities should incentivize players/stakeholders in the payments ecosystem for building the required infrastructure.

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CBDC: Analyzing the nascent experience in China, Nigeria, and Sweden

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will debut the Digital Rupee in the Financial Year 2022-23, according to the Hon’ble Finance Minister of India’s Union Budget Speech on February 1, 2022. Meanwhile, China’s e-Yuan, currently in pilot mode, had its global premiere at the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 when most foreign athletes got to experience a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for the first time. However, the Bahamas and Nigeria were among the first to establish CBDCs. Given that recent economic sanctions against Russia have granted governments additional reasons to implement alternative payment systems, such as CBDCs, it’s more vital than ever to understand and evaluate the experience of a few countries that are already ahead of the curve.



Source: https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/cbdctracker/


But, before we go any further, you need to familiarize yourself with what a CBDC is, as well as its pros and cons – read up on our previous blog post. Additionally, a few key terms can help in laying the groundwork:

  • Possible Use Cases: A CBDC can be issued for either Retail purposes, implying that it can be used for all transactions by the public, or Wholesale, suggesting that it can only be used for bank-to-bank transactions and settlement. A Wholesale CBDC is expected to improve efficiency in large-value interbank settlements while also being programmable. A Retail CBDC is projected to promote a far broader cause of financial inclusion, bolster digital economies, and improve the efficiency of retail payment systems.
  • Architecture: A CBDC can have one of three legal structures:
Payment Facilitators Direct Liability of
Central Bank Financial Intermediaries
Central Bank Direct CBDC NA
Financial Intermediaries Hybrid CBDC Synthetic CBDC


A Direct CBDC may cause financial disintermediation because commercial banks and non-banks will have no participation in its operation, but a Synthetic CBDC may limit monetary policy permeability and increase the risk of financial instability. A hybrid CBDC, on the contrary, is based on a time-tested paradigm in which both the central bank and financial intermediaries play active roles in the delivery of financial services while also promoting innovation.

  • Infrastructure: Depending on how the security and verification aspects of transactions are defined, a CBDC can be built on a centrally controlled database or distributed ledger technology, which saw a breakthrough with crypto assets.
  • Access: A CBDC can be accessed and used to make payments using either an account-based system, similar to our bank accounts, or digital tokens, which are more like physical cash. A fundamental distinction between the two is that, unlike an account-based CBDC, a digital token can retain the anonymity of cash.


Any central bank would strive to support the advantages of both physical cash (anonymity, settlement upon payment) and electronic payment systems (low cost, efficient and difficult to counterfeit), regardless of which mix of the above is chosen to construct a CBDC.

Let’s look at what it’s been like on the ground. We chose three countries to highlight out of the many that are experimenting with CBDC: China because it was the first to publicly announce its CBDC ambitions and has covered a lot of ground; Nigeria, because it is the largest country by population to have formally launched its CBDC; and Sweden, because of its unique objectives and differentiated design.


China’s e-CNY (under pilot):


Use Case Architecture Infrastructure Access
Retail Hybrid CBDC Centralized Management Account-based

China started working on the CBDC in 2014 and has been testing e-CNY pilots in cities across the country since December 2019. Given the early start and China’s stated desire to promote Yuan internationalization, it was widely assumed that e-CNY would hasten the process. However, all such speculations were dispelled by the People’s Bank of China’s (PBOC) research paper, which was published in July 2021. It said categorically that e-CNY is intended to “bolster the domestic economy, promote financial inclusion and make monetary and payment systems more efficient”. Meanwhile, e-CNY had been successfully tested across several use cases aligned with its objectives. By the end of June 2021, e-CNY transaction volume had already clocked 70.75 million, with a total value of RMB 34.5 billion (~$5.4 billion)!

Some distinguishing features of the e-CNY system are:

  • Allows those without bank accounts to enjoy basic financial services
  • Supports offline payments
  • Supports ‘managed anonymity’ despite embracing an ‘account-based’ access model – small-value payments are expected to be anonymous

According to PBOC, e-CNY will now be tested across a broader range of use cases, involving all relevant stakeholders in the ecosystem. Prior to the commercial debut, it will expand its research on the influence of e-CNY on monetary policy and financial stability. Furthermore, China is taking an active part in the worldwide CBDC standard-setting, having joined the Multiple CBDC Bridge (mCBDC) headed by the BIS Innovation Hub, where it is jointly exploring various CBDC possibilities with other central banks.


Nigeria’s eNaira (launched):


Use Case Architecture Infrastructure Access
Retail Hybrid CBDC Distributed Ledger Technology Account-based

Nigeria’s CBDC, eNaira, was launched with much fanfare in October 2021. While the project is still in its infancy, news reports suggest that the initial enthusiasm has waned. Nonetheless, its motivations for introducing eNaira are similar to those of other emerging nations that are likely to be keeping a close eye on the currency’s success. The following are some of the motivations:

  • Promoting financial inclusion – While a bank account is required to use eNaira in the first phase, the second phase is planned to eliminate the requirement
  • Reduce the amount of cash in circulation and, consequently, the cost of processing cash — the eNaira will contain all the characteristics of cash, such as direct claims on the central bank, no interest payable, and so on
  • Enabling direct welfare payout to citizens — eNaira’s account-based capabilities enable welfare funds to be delivered directly to recipients without the risk of theft
  • Increasing tax collection – As the economy becomes more organized as physical cash is phased out, tax revenues are likely to rise
  • Facilitating diaspora remittances — eNaira is supposed to be a more efficient, secure, and cost-effective way to send money back home

In the first phase, eNaira was launched with a few basic functionalities. Depending on input from eNaira users and regular calibration of perceived threats from typical CBDC issues, the Central Bank of Nigeria is projected to gradually introduce many more functions to meet its core objectives.


Sweden’s eKrona (under pilot): 


Use Case Architecture Infrastructure Access
Retail Hybrid CBDC Distributed Ledger Technology Digital Token

While financial inclusion is a driving force behind e-CNY and eNaira, eKrona is being created to solve a different problem: the decline in cash usage! Yes, the Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, recognizes that the decline in cash may limit its direct role in the payments ecosystem, making its goal of fostering a secure and efficient payment system more difficult. As a result, the Riksbank started testing eKrona in a closed system with simulated participants (intermediaries like commercial banks), end-users, and payment instruments in 2020. The first part of the pilot’s findings was positive, indicating that digital tokens appear to enhance cash use and hence improve Riksbank’s direct role in controlling the money supply. The Riksbank, nevertheless, recognizes that the pilot must now go on to the next stage, in which it intends to:

  • Integrate with systems of actual participants
  • Create an offline function so that digital tokens can be exchanged without the need for a network
  • Test out various options by storing tokens and their keys in different ways that can be used for a variety of purposes
  • Evaluate and improve the eKrona network’s performance and scalability

The ecosystem of a CBDC will be newly established and will act as an alternative to the existing electronic payment infrastructure, which is a common benefit of having one. The ramifications of the CBDC for monetary policy, financial stability, and financial disintermediation, on the other hand, are still uncertain. Even the legal aspects of a CBDC, which is neither whole cash nor equivalent to a deposit in a bank account, as well as data governance mechanisms, must be thoroughly examined before its use grows.


We’ll keep a close eye (with a magnifying glass!) on the various central banks’ evolving experiences. For the time being, we eagerly anticipate the RBI’s next steps on the Digital Rupee, which will detail its objectives, design elements, and commercial launch timeline.



CBDCs: an opportunity for the monetary system –  https://www.bis.org/publ/arpdf/ar2021e3.htm

Progress of Research & Development of E-CNY in China – http://www.pbc.gov.cn/en/3688110/3688172/4157443/4293696/2021071614584691871.pdf

eNaira Design Paper – https://www.enaira.gov.ng/about/design

E-krona pilot phase 1 – https://www.riksbank.se/en-gb/payments–cash/e-krona/e-krona-reports/e-krona-pilot-phase-1-report-3/



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Man wearing smart glasses touching a virtual screen futuristic t

Payments in Metaverse

What is Metaverse?


Metaverse is a parallel online world enabling users to create their own virtual worlds, early onset of Metaverse came in 2003 with Second Life. Second Life was and is an online multimedia platform allowing users to create an avatar for themselves and have a second life in an online virtual world.


Since the prominence of cryptos and blockchain, Metaverse has seen a resurrection. Often described as the first web 3.0 application, wherein users can create avatars in virtual worlds, socialize, shop, bank, play, and do business. To sum “A shared 3D virtual reality world where people play, socialize, work and buy/sell goods and services”


Why is Metaverse important?


Some of the most important voices have this to say about Metaverse.


“An internet you’re inside of, rather than just looking at” – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook


“The Metaverse is a massively scaled and interoperable network of real-time rendered 3D virtual worlds which can be experienced synchronously and persistently by an effectively unlimited number of users, and with continuity of data, such as identity, history, entitlements, objects, communications, and payments” – Matthew Ball, Metaverse expert

To sum Metaverse has the potential to be “The NextGen Internet”


How does it affect us?


Metaverse has taken baby steps in defining how we:



  • Multiplayer online games with Virtual Reality etc
  • Multiplayer with friends, family, or even strangers
  • Interactive Gameplay – no more predefined storyline


  • Interact with friends, family, colleagues, and strangers via VR, AR
  • Attend Social Event – Create Social events, even marriages
  • New age tourism – boomed during the COVID, VR enhanced real-time tours of some of the best-known places across countries
  • Virtual Activities – VR enhanced Treasure Hunt, etc with Friends and Family


  • Meetings and Team building – Interact with colleagues via VR, and AR across time zones
  • Skilling, training, and workshops – VR enabled training modules for softer to finer skills
  • Distance Assistance – Get help from colleagues in the virtual office
  • Business Development – Customers and Businesses are operating in Metaverse, why should newer businesses not pitch for business deals in Metaverse itself


  • Purchase – Purchase Virtual items for virtual self, home, office, and business
  • Window Shopping and Business Expos – Customers and Businesses both are in Metaverse, selling and buying
  • Marketing and Advertising – With Millennials living life in Metaverse, businesses are forced to market and advertise themselves in the Metaverse or they will be left out of the mindspace. JP Morgan has recently launched themselves in Metaverse

So what about payments in Metaverse?


The Metaverse is an estimated $758 billion opportunity by 2026 as per Report Linker Feb 22, 2022. So, people not only have fun in Metaverse but they are doing real businesses and creating wealth in Metaverse. New world should have new payment rails to conduct businesses.


Many platforms rely on traditional payment methods and in-game tokens, but crypto is gaining traction.


Traditional platforms use traditional payment methods like VISA/Mastercard cards etc. They also use in-game tokens (but limited to online gaming space use-case) given they are not accepted at other businesses in Metaverse. Blockchain-based platforms transaction is via cryptocurrencies via platform tokens (e.g. Mana for Decentraland, Sand for Sandbox), that can be bought and swapped on exchanges for other major cryptocurrencies like BTC/ETH, hence they are more interoperable, and easier to withdraw.


One of the key benefits of crypto payments in the metaverse is that they are borderless. Users and businesses can send and receive payments from anywhere in the world with minimal transaction costs and no wait time.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are also gaining popularity as a form of payment. NFTs are digital assets created on blockchain platforms like Ethereum and EOS and are often used as tokens of ownership for digital assets like land, art, and collectibles that are unique. Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs can be easily transferred between users via P2P or exchange-based systems.


To sum it up, Metaverse is a new and exciting opportunity and will need new payment methods which are still evolving. Will it be a fad or a robust business, only the future will tell, but it’s definitely worth exploring.

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Evolution and Growth of POS Terminals

There has been a welcome change in the RBI March 22 BANKWISE ATM/POS/CARD STATISTICS report, PG and POS volume are shown separately helping people to understand both landscapes better. 


And it clearly states that POS is not going anywhere but is going to further evolve to super POS. As of today, POS can support Swipe, DIP, Tap N Pay, BQR, AEPS, and also card not present scenarios (SMS Pay Links). If allowed payment from other banks/ fintech wallets can also be accepted, I personally feel that other wallets’ acceptance should not be seen as competition but as complementing payments growth in general. 


Moreover, today it can host multiple apps like EMI, DCC etc. Below is the last three years growth story in numbers:


Month Mar-19 Mar-20 Mar-21 Mar-22
Terminal Count 3,722,229 4,433,973 4,720,077 6,070,142
% Growth 19% 6% 29%


POS will further change in shape and size and grow in their thinking capacity. Banks and POS aggregators in acquiring a business with their issuance counterpart/issuing partners can create solutions/algorithms which provide customized offers for the cardholder on the go as per PINCODE, MCC, or other criteria. 


And what about business outlets wherein the terminal is deployed? How we can benefit them? It will all depend on the Value Added Services (VAS) delivered by the acquirer. The VAS can be any of the following:


  • EMI services either OEM or issuance partner sub-vented
  • Plug & Play platform to create an online store for the merchant
  • ERP integrated with payments
  • Credit facilities based on volume – it can be term loans or revolving line
  • Assisted e-commerce, forget laptop just have an app that can be installed in POS


Above are a few examples but there is much more than POS terminals will be able to do in the future. The success of the VAS model will depend upon fast deployment, customized merchant reports, and easy to understand dashboard.

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The role of API-led technology in modernizing the BFSI industry

Technology in finance has been around for more than half a century. With the turn of the century, it became even more critical as a key differentiator, moving up from a mere enabler. However, many financial services firms continue to struggle with their legacy tech and the need to stay relevant, mainly due to the slow creation and adoption of modern financial technology solutions. This is where the FinTech industry is playing a critical role in bringing new-age customer and business-centric innovations into the industry.


The question to ask now is- Is modern technology in finance and banking or as we call it Fintech any different from traditional banking technology and why is it positioned as a unique sector? Over the past 50 years, technology has “assisted” traditional financial institutions. However, there has not been any dramatic change in the products being offered or their target market.


FinTech- Accelerating API-driven innovation in the Banking and Financial Ecosystem


One of the key levers of the growth of Indian Fintech is its robust and scalable technology that caters to all kinds of customer segments. The development is aided by entrepreneurs who bring in innovation, supported by a pool of deep talent.


The trend that started with Fintech companies specializing in payment services, digital lending, saving accounts, wealth management and remittances space, is now disrupting the Indian banking and financial landscape in many ways.


Primary enablers of fintech growth


As we popularly call it, the India stack has been the key enabler for the growth of the fintech ecosystem. While demonetization and the pandemic provided tailwinds to the industry by increasing customer acceptance, the India Stack, regulatory support like CKYC, Video KYC, etc. made things easier to adapt to the compliance requirements. These, in turn, helped accelerate fintech innovation.


While the pandemic accelerated the global economy’s digitisation, India’s fintech sector riding on open APIs platform has ushered in a new era of reimagining financial services by prioritising customer experience and accessibility to banking services.


Post-pandemic, banks/financial institutions have started to revisit their strategy of digitizing customer experience without compromising on the quality of service delivery, regulatory compliance, and cost. We are now witnessing more collaborations between fintech that are building API-driven digital platforms and Banks. The partnership ranges from basic customer onboarding journeys to offering last-mile delivery of banking services.


This partnership has furthered the government’s stated agenda of financial inclusion. It has changed every aspect of the banking industry, including payments, infrastructure, access to financial services and distribution.


The popularity of API banking systems is driving more innovation, particularly in the fintech ecosystem. The API technology essentially allows technology infrastructure players to plug into a Bank’s legacy platform without being embedded into it. The infrastructure players, in turn, use the same API technologies to open up their solutions to fintech innovators/distributors. This is helping Banks to accelerate the adoption of API technology to ramp up customer acquisition, improve transparency and increase customer satisfaction.


There are several reasons why API banking and payments are becoming the wave of the future. The first and most obvious reason is cost reduction and faster launch of products/services. Secondly, APIs can automate customer support and other processes, improving the quality of service provided to customers while lowering costs. In turn, this allows users to have more interaction with the companies they already know and trust, making them more likely to do more business with them.


CARD91 is an API-led issuance Platform-as-a-Service company. It offers unparalleled technology infrastructure to banks, SMEs, corporates & fintech through its Switch and Card Management Solutions for Prepaid Cards, Multi-CurAPIrency Travel Cards and allied systems like Centralised System of Records (C-SOR) for prepaid cards, credit cards and Access Control systems (ACS)


The article is authored by Avendra Singh, Director, Partnerships & Sales, CARD91

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Benefits of Sales Incentive Payouts on Cards

Corporates typically incentivize their sales channel comprising distributors, dealers, retailers, and their own salesforce to target product-specific push or drive overall sales. There are various ways to pay out these incentives – bank account transfers, cash disbursement, discounts on additional sales, accumulation of reward or loyalty points reimbursable upon reaching a milestone, etc. However, each of these leaves a lot to be desired. For example,


  1. maintaining and updating the account details of lakhs of retailers or salespeople is a cumbersome exercise and fraught with operational risks.
  2. cash disbursement is expensive and poses a risk of theft, last-mile delivery is always a grey area and disbursement above a certain threshold are not permissible according to local laws.
  3. while discounting features can help push your product, it may not always be in the best interests of your sales channel and therefore, not in your best interest. Supply build-up can lower the brand value of your product.
  4. although reward or loyalty points do offer a competitive attribute to your incentive scheme and engage your sales channel initially, it can lose its sheen if the program is not regularly updated with newer schemes or offers. In short, you need a creative team regularly coming up with innovations.


What if there was an alternative that addresses all these concerns while allowing you an avenue to brand yourself, monetize the entire scheme, and much more? Enter Prepaid Cards. 


  1. Easy to maintain: A General-Purpose-Reloadable (GPR) prepaid card can be issued once to an individual and can be reloaded as many times as desired till the expiry of the card or till the applicable limit is exhausted. You no longer need to maintain the bank account details of each channel partner or salesperson as any card-load transaction is just an API call away whereas funding is done into a single pool account.
  2. Cash equivalent, but not so much: Yes, your channel partners are elated that they don’t have to play barter trade with you anymore (remember discount schemes or reward points that can be only availed on future sales?) and at the same time, they do not have to deal with physical cash.
  3. Branding: One more potent opportunity to showcase your brand! The more cards that are issued, the better the visibility of your brand, and the higher the multiplier effect. 
  4. Wider acceptability: By giving incentives on cards and not via discounts on future sales or reward points, you ensure wider acceptance of your incentive program with the desired audience, which ultimately helps drive more sales.
  5. Instant gratification: In this digital era, enchant your channel partners by instantly issuing and activating physical or digital cards, and crediting incentives to their cards rather than relying on the traditional way of transfers. 
  6. Compliant: A prepaid card is a regulated product issued by RBI-licensed entities – this ensures the heavy lifting of compliance is already taken care of. Besides, the data is hosted in a PCI-DSS-compliant environment, ensuring full data privacy for the cardholders.
  7. Customize your program: Create a positive or negative list of merchants and categories where the card can be used. Place restrictions on the amount or count of transactions to avoid misuse – something that you, as a Corporate, cannot influence if the incentive is disbursed in cash or to a bank account. Allow cashback or discounts on your choice of merchants through a brand loyalty program.
  8. Control with the user: A cardholder can view balances or statements, reset the PIN, switch on/off any transaction type, and set corresponding limits, and analyze spending.
  9. Leverage the existing card network and its reward programs: By giving incentives on prepaid cards, you’re allowing the channel partner to choose how she would like to spend it across millions of merchants accepting cards and benefit from the network-run reward programs.
  10. Financially inclusive: A simple yet effective way to contribute to the nation by easily bringing those in far-flung areas under the banking system.
  11. Support: Ensure you tie up with a Bank or Technology Service Provider who can offer on-demand support to you or your cardholder in the language she desires.


At CARD91, we pride ourselves on being able to roll out sales incentive programs for corporates in less than 2 weeks! Yes, our API-first approach, deep understanding of supply chain programs, in-house technology & payment experts, and existing partnerships with banks and card networks allow us to offer any prepaid card solution in a simple, plug-and-play manner. Just sign us up, sit back, and witness the magic!


Given that you’ve reached here, it seems that you’re interested in launching a hassle-free and widely accepted loyalty scheme for your sales channel. Irrespective of your inclination or choice, do have a 30-minute free session with one of our supply chain and payment experts by writing to us at sales@card91.io. We will be pleased to share how we’ve helped several corporates successfully make the decision!


Written by Shailabh Kothari, Director – Partnerships & Sales

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“The Rise of Gift Cards: How They’re Changing the Gifting Industry “

Over time, there has been a significant shift in how people give gifts to their near and dear ones, with more individuals choosing gift cards over cash. This trend has now extended to corporate gifting also, with organizations preferring to incentivise and reward employees with gift cards. This trend can be attributed to various factors such as convenience, personalization, security, flexibility, budgeting, and specific purchases. Additionally, the growth of e-commerce has played a crucial role in driving the gift card industry; the recipient can order their gift from the comfort of their home. Based on the research conducted by researchandmarkets.com, the estimated value of the Indian Gift Card Market is USD 36.16 Bn in 2023 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.64% to reach USD 65.57 Bn by 2028.


Gift cards are considered by modern fintech startups and established large companies as the most efficient method to incentivize their sales channels, vendors, business partners, and employees. Additionally, gift cards are used to reward customers for their loyalty. 


To keep up with the growing demand for gift cards, businesses are exploring ways to modernize their traditional gift card offerings by incorporating new technology and platforms. This may involve expanding their range of gift card options and adopting innovative technologies to streamline the gift card purchase and redemption process.


Types of Gift Cards

The types of gift cards can be categorized as follows:

  1. Open Loop Gift Cards: These gift cards are issued by financial institutions such as banks or card companies and can be used at any location within the card’s network.
  2. Closed Loop Gift Cards: These gift cards are issued by retailers or brands and can only be used at their specific stores or websites. Examples of such gift cards include those from Starbucks, Lifestyle, and others.
  3. Card Catalogues: There are a few aggregators that compile a catalogue of brands and issue gift cards that can be used at more than one brand, but within the defined catalogue only.

How do Gift Cards work? 

Customers can purchase a gift card online or offline from retail stores/ businesses. Once the card is purchased, it can be activated either by the purchaser or the recipient, depending on the issuer’s policy.


To use a gift card, the recipient presents the card at the time of payment either in-store or online. The available balance on the card is then applied toward the total purchase amount. If the purchase amount exceeds the card’s balance, the recipient may be required to pay the remaining balance using another payment method.


For example, if a person has an INR 500 gift card to a clothing store and they buy a shirt that costs INR 300, the remaining balance of INR 200 will still be available for future purchases. However, if the person buys an item that costs INR 600, they can use the gift card to pay for INR 500 of the total amount and then pay the remaining INR 100 with a UPI or credit card, or cash.


It’s important to note that some gift cards have expiration dates or fees associated with them, which vary depending on the issuer’s policies. 


How businesses can benefit from Gift cards?

Gift cards can be a valuable tool for businesses in several ways:

  1. Boosting sales: Gift cards encourage recipients to visit the retailer and make purchases, which can increase sales and revenue.
  2. Building brand awareness: Gift cards can feature a retailer’s logo and branding, which can help promote the business and increase visibility.
  3. Customer retention: Gift cards can be used to incentivize customers to return to the retailer, as they may have unused funds on their cards.
  4. Cost-effective marketing: Gift cards can be a cost-effective way to promote a business, as they can be used as prizes in contests or given as incentives to customers who complete a survey or refer friends to the business.
  5. Increased cash flow: When a customer purchases a gift card, the retailer receives payment upfront, which can help with cash flow management.

Overall, gift cards can be a powerful marketing and sales tool for businesses, as they can encourage customer loyalty, attract new customers, and increase revenue.


CARD91 offers an API-driven technology that enables businesses to effortlessly modify their current gifting solutions or create a new gifting tool for their employees, clients, vendors, or customers to enhance their sales. If you are interested in discovering more about CARD91’s products and services, do reach out to us at sales@card91.io and we will be happy to help you.


Written by Astha Bishnoi, Manager – Partnerships & Sales

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Assisted Commerce – Accelerating the growth of Digital Payments in India

India’s e-commerce sector has grown significantly over the past few years and is expected to grow multifold in the coming years. The growth has been driven by increasing internet penetration, rising smartphone adoption, and the growing popularity of online shopping among consumers. The D2C and B2B segments have seen significant growth due to the increasing popularity of online marketplaces, making it easier for businesses to reach customers directly and for buyers to find a wider range of products at competitive prices. The projected growth of the D2C market to US$ 60 billion by FY27 and the overall e-commerce market to US$ 350 billion by 2030 highlights the tremendous potential of the sector in India (according to a recent report published by e-commerce enablement platform Shiprocket in collaboration with CII)


Further, India has seen a boom in smartphone penetration as well as tremendous growth in digital transactions. The number of internet connections in 2021 saw a tremendous growth to 830 million, driven by the ‘Digital India’ programme and the digital transactions in January 23 were close to (in terms of value) INR 12.98 Lk Cr (according to the latest TRAI data).


Given an understanding of the low adoption of mobile penetration in rural areas, assisted commerce was born and is now a full-fledged huge business opportunity for the commerce industry.


The assisted commerce industry is growing rapidly, driven by several factors, including the increasing popularity of mobile messaging apps, the rise of voice assistants, and the growing demand for personalized and seamless shopping experiences.


One of the key benefits of assisted commerce is that it allows businesses to provide 24/7 customer service, without the need for human customer support staff. This can help improve customer satisfaction and reduce costs for businesses.


Assisted commerce is also helping businesses to improve their customer engagement and loyalty by providing personalized recommendations and targeted marketing messages.


Imagine a situation where an individual may require support to make online purchases or conduct transactions- What started as kiosks in tier–3, 4, 5, and 6 towns and villages to help people navigate online government services and promote financial inclusion created a whole new business model.


The goal of assisted commerce is to enable individuals to participate in the digital economy and make purchases independently, by offering some level of assistance.


Assisted commerce can take many forms, depending on the individual’s needs and abilities. For example, helping individuals in rural areas to navigate online shopping platforms, bill payments, and train and bus ticket purchases. Alternatively, it may involve support staff or caregivers assisting individuals with shopping in physical stores or conducting financial transactions.


Assisted commerce is important because it can help promote independence and autonomy for individuals who may otherwise face barriers to participating in the new economy. By providing the necessary support and assistance, individuals with disabilities or the elderly can have greater control over their finances and make purchases that align with their needs and goals.


On this, Prepaid cards can be a very useful tool, as they offer a way for caregivers or support staff to manage and monitor the individual’s spending while still allowing them to make purchases independently. Many prepaid card programs offer features specifically designed for assisted commerce, such as cardholder and caregiver controls.


Some examples of the types of transactions that can happen via Assisted Commerce:

  1. Online shopping: Individuals who require assistance to navigate online shopping platforms may receive help from caregivers or support staff to browse products, compare prices, and make purchases.
  2. Bill payments: Individuals may require assistance with paying bills (utility/mobile/etc), such as by helping to navigate online payment platforms
  3. Banking transactions: Individuals may require assistance with banking transactions by making deposits or withdrawals at a bank branch or through online or mobile banking platforms.
  4. Direct money transfers can also be facilitated with the help of assisted commerce. This can involve using a variety of payment methods, such as bank transfers, wire transfers, or mobile payment apps.


We at CARD91 can play an important role in facilitating assisted commerce by providing innovative solutions that will be easier for businesses that may have limited access to banking services. If you’ve any use case, particularly on Assisted Commerce, you may write us at sales@card91.io


Written by Khushboo Bakhru, Senior Manager – Partnerships & Sales

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