Hyderabad: Demonetisation and the currency shortage it brought in its wake did force many in the country to adopt digital payments options. Over time, supply of currency notes improved and the need for digital transactions decreased gradually. Today, cash is back in business.
Cash indeed has re-emerged as the king and primary payment method back again. A startup in Bengaluru, however, plans to keep digital payments in fashion. The company, uniquely named ToneTag, uses sound waves to enable digital transaction and removes the hassles of OTPs. With just a tap on a ToneTag-enabled PoS terminal, a consumer can make transactions. With two leading PoS terminal makers -- Ingenico and VeriFone -- already in its clients list, the company expects that sound will soon become a standard for digital payments.
“Why should people have to wait for so long to make a simple transaction. That’s the prime reason behind cash making a comeback,” said CEO & co-founder Kumar Abhishek.
He said that the company’s approach to digital payments is different. “We aren’t an ‘application’ that customers need to download on their phones. Our software enables the ecosystem to accept digital payments using sound.”
Inspiration for an entrepreneur can come from the most banal of situations. For Bokaro-born Mr Abhishek, it was at the lunch table when a colleague joked about getting candies instead of change that rung a bell in his mind and set the ball rolling.
However, the company founders admitted that the idea to use sound was only by accident. “While researching for the business, we stumbled upon the idea to use sound. There was no technology per se to integrate feature phone users into the digital ecosystem. Everyone is chasing the 200 million-plus smartphone users while ignoring the massive 600 million feature phone user base.”
The 36-year-old, however, claimed it was never his ambition to become an entrepreneur, rather while working in a MNC he saw a problem that needed to be addressed.
“Before launching my startup, I was working on integrating mobile banking solutions. The aim was to make payments via phone and not take out the card every time. I had two ways to proceed to solve this problem. I opted to start my own business,” he said.
With friend and legal advisor Vivek Kumar Singh (30), the duo set out to change the payment landscape in late 2013. “Like every B2B startup, the first customer and his demands is always a difficult challenge. Later on, our links with Infosys Financle helped opened the doors to many customers,” he said.
Mr Abhishek, while discussing the challenges, cited the timing of demonetisation playing spoilsport to their plans.
The company, according to its founder, is optimistic about 2018 as it hopes it to be the breakout year. “Clients, hopefully, will start their advertising campaign to spread the use of technology. Since there was hardly any such technology before, customers will take a bit of time to accept such an easy way of making payments,” he said.