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Payments Tech Heats Up India’s Retail Competition

Retailers in India are turning to mobile payments innovators to gain an edge over their competition, experts say, as they explore how their customers can pay more easily and gain a personalized shopping experience like they do online.

Experts say brick-and-mortar stores – especially in shopping centers – are increasingly seeking mobile payment and advertising technologies offered by the nation’s startups to compete with rivals, online and off.

Mobile payments company iKaaz Softwares is one of those startups helping India’s retailers establish tap-and-pay and near-field communication payment solutions. iKaaz Softwares CEO Soma Sundaram says that in addition to tap-and-pay and NFC payments technologies being safe for consumers to use, there is also a large opportunity for the technology in retail stores, as about 90 percent of all transactions are made in cash.

The company creates NFC tags placed on the back of shoppers’ smartphones that are linked to credit, debit or prepaid cards, allowing the customer to simply present their phone at checkout.

But it isn’t just the paying experience these startups are looking to improve for stores. Retailers want to personalize the shopping experience, just as online marketplaces can display targeted ads and products for their customers.

BeaconStream uses beacon technology, utilizing Bluetooth to transmit shopper-specific messages and advertisements when individuals enter a store. The startup’s chief technology officer, Gautam Mandewalker, said stores have received the technology well. “Malls are facing competition from e-commerce firms as they are beating them with targeted officers,” he said. “So malls are looking at beacons positively."

Together, India’s startup community is likely to play a crucial role in helping brick-and-mortar stores thrive as online commerce spreads in the nation, experts say. And if recent research proves true, India is about to emerge as one of the world’s premier e-commerce markets.

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