In 2020, the market came to an abrupt halt with the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic caught everyone unaware and impacted millions of businesses. It forced millions to stay indoors for months and also claimed millions of lives and livelihoods.
The effect of the pandemic was felt most by businesses that were forced to shut or halt operations. Barring essential services, millions of other business owners were left with no option but to stay home and hope that the situation fades off. The pandemic not only impacted businesses but also led to change in consumer behaviour. This forced MSMEs to revisit their business strategy, products, and services, pushing many to take drastic measures to resume their commerce.
With an interrupted cash flow, businesses ran on low liquidity, and more and more businesses were left with no option but to provide the option of contactless payments, and do away with health hazards posed by the physical exchange of currency notes. Adhering to the safety protocols such as social distancing, strict restrictions on open hours, multiple lockdowns, etc forced small businesses to forego traditional cash exchange and adopt newer ways of financial transactions such as QR codes, PoS machines, etc.
As we move further into 2021 and continue the fight against the pandemic, it can be clearly said that businesses who do not evolve with changing consumer behaviour, and adopt newer, innovative solutions, may not survive in the aftermath of the pandemic.
The age of digital transformation
The rapid adoption of QR codes and PoS machines across a majority of urban and suburban small and medium businesses is ratified by the reset in consumer behaviour. According to the Capgemini Research Institute, 46% of Indians consumers prefer to use online channels to shop and in case of physically being at the store, 75% of them prefer to shop from retailers which have adopted in-store safety measures as of November 2020. It became pertinent for businesses to move from admiring digital solutions for businesses from a distance to becoming pioneers themselves. The integration of UPI and interoperable payments applications like virtual wallets and cards made lives a little easier, especially for MSMEs.
In these unpredictable times, it is the small business which knows its customer and their purchasing habits very well, that has the potential to scale quickly.
BharatPe as a key player
At BharatPe, we have set out to make financial inclusion a reality for all MSMEs in the country. This includes transforming the way they view/accept payments and empowering them with simple yet critical financial innovations that can help them grow their business further.
BharatPe has led the way in promoting digital payment acceptance with its interoperable UPI QR that allows merchants to accept payments without any transaction fees. With just a single QR code, merchants can accept payment from a range of payment apps such as PayTm, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM etc.
Our uniquely designed and easy-to-use PoS machine – BharatSwipe – allows merchants, retailers, and small businesses to accept digital payments, without making a huge dent in their pockets. There is no monthly rental associated with BharatSwipe, unlike the usual norm in the case of other PoS market players. By waiving off all kinds of fees, BharatPe has been able to capture many unexplored merchants (who never had a POS machine) and emerge as the No. 3 private player in the POS category in India.
We have enabled loans to over 1.6 lac merchants across 100 cities in India, disbursing close INR. 250 crores to our merchant partners consistently every month. With BharatPe’s lending solution, merchants can avail collateral-free loans of up to INR 7 lakhs digitally.
Recently, we have launched our Distributor to Retailer (D2R) lending product that is designed to provide instant liquidity to distributors, wholesalers, traders and dealers across industry verticals. With this new lending product, we will collateral-free loans of up to Rs. 50 lakhs for a period of 7 days to 30 days. The response to this product was overwhelming and we facilitated D2R loans of Rs. 50 crores in the first month of launch.