[TechSparks 2020] Pine Labs President-COO explains the road ahead for SMB digitisation and digital payments

At TechSparks 2020, Pine Labs’ President and COO Nitish Asthana explained how the digital payments space is evolving and what it is doing to enable the digital payments revolution.
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The digital payments space in India is one of the hottest sectors for innovation in the next few years. RedSeer Consulting suggests digital payments in India are expected to grow over three-fold to Rs 7,092 trillion by 2025 from Rs 2,162 trillion in 2019-20. Further, India’s current 160 million unique mobile payment users will multiply by five times to reach nearly 800 million by 2025.

Increasing adoption of digital payment solutions by SMBs, merchants and retailers is a primary factor for this growth. And fintech players like Pine Labs are grabbing the opportunity to enable such a digital transformation.

At a virtual fireside chat on the Digitisation of SMBs: the road ahead at YourStory’s flagship event TechSparks 2020, Pine Labs’ President and COO Nitish Asthana explained how the digital payments space is evolving and what Pine Labs is doing to enable the digital payments revolution.

“Besides the clear impact of demonetisation and GST on the uptake of digital payments, there has been a generational shift in SMBs. As the younger guard is taking over SMBs or starting their own businesses, they want to digitise their stores. When COVID-19 hit, it proved digital payments are the safer way to pay and boosted their popularity,” he said.

Pine Labs provides a merchant platform and makes software for point-of-sale (PoS) machines. It processes payments of $30 billion per year and serves close to 140,000 merchants across 450,000 network points.

Pine Labs President and COO Nitish Asthana (right) in conversation with Rishabh Mansur, Special Correspondent, YourStory (left)

Focus on Tier-II and III markets

In July 2020, Pine Labs appointed Nitish as President and COO, who began accelerating Pine Lab’s efforts towards technology innovation and increasing digital payment acceptance among merchants. An important part of Nitish’s role is ensuring this acceptance isn't limited to SMBs in metro areas and Tier-I cities.

“We have seen demand for digital payment solutions across the country. At Pine Labs, 60 percent of our onboarding of new retailers happens outside Tier-I cities. Further, digital infrastructure for payments is more scalable than physical infrastructure, so we are investing in it to make onboarding and customer service seamless for SMBs across Tier-II, Tier-III, and even Tier-IV markets,” he said.

He added it is crucial for Pine Labs to speak the merchants’ language and ensure communication is localised and authentic.

In January 2020, Pine Labs became the first unicorn of 2020, after raising an undisclosed amount from New York-based financial services major Mastercard. While the transaction details were not disclosed, the funding round was pegged at $100-$150 million (Rs 713-Rs1,069 crore), according to sources.

Nitish claimed the company now has more than 800 billing software integrations with Independent Software Vendors. 

“On our Android POS, we opened up our app store to over 50 apps, and also to APIs to connect these apps with each other. We also ensure there is simplicity and a range of features to help our merchants get more customers, grow their customer base, and reduce their overall costs,” he said.

TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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