The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Faculty-led Mobile Payment Forum of India (MPFI) has called for developing multilingual payment applications, customer support and grievance redressal in multiple Indian languages.
According to the forum, this is a crucial component to increase inclusiveness and the reach of mobile and digital payments in the country. At present, not all official languages are offered as ‘language options’ on Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payment applications.
MPFI, which played an early and key role in developing interoperability and security standards for the Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and later, the UPI, submitted these recommendations to Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Committee, on the Deepening of Digital Payments.
IIT-M faculty Dr Gaurav Raina was elected as the Chairman of MPFI, which is a joint initiative of Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), Hyderabad and the Rural Technology Business Incubator (RTBI), IIT Madras. Started in 2006, MPFI’s mission is to enable mobile payments and mobile-based financial services for everyone in India.
Highlighting the important aspects of the recommendations made to the RBI, Prof. Gaurav Raina, Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras, and Chairman, MPFI, said, “The MPFI recommendations considered three broad perspectives for strengthening the digital payments space, and adding confidence and trust in the Indian consumer. They include (i). User and Merchant perspective, (ii). Regulation, methods and processes, and (iii). Standards for transactions, via channels like SMS.”
Further Prof Gaurav Raina added, “Most MPFI members feel there is still much to be done to increase awareness for the different modes of digital payments among users and merchants, and also about best practices for user’s security. The MPFI can help by creating videos in different official languages to spread awareness on digital payments. These videos can then be used by all stakeholders in the ecosystem.”
Other key recommendations of the MPFI include focussing on increasing women consumers and using voice-based features in Mobile Apps. The positioning of mobile internet, especially towards payments, may need judicious advertising within the social and cultural context.
Raina insists that voice should start playing a key role, at least in the transaction part of the payment. This will enhance usability, and also reduce transaction time. The forum also pointed out that for a certain fraction of Indians, the current e-commerce symbols may be confusing and this reduces their comfort levels to transact online. Simple and easy navigation and user interfaces that use speech rather than text could help.
Among the key inputs from users and merchants is that it was important to reduce overall costs for merchants while designing the mobile applications in such a way that it is lightweight and minimizes the process flow to reduce data usage. There should also be clearly communicated guidelines for fees that are charged by banks and payment operators for various digital payment services.
Further, Raina revealed that the MPFI also called for all stakeholders to work towards developing an ecosystem that fosters the adoption of digital payments. This can include developing open source designs for point of sale solutions (hardware and software) and book-keeping software.