Bharat QR vs POS Machine: Which One Is Better?

FinTech is disrupting the very fundamentals of money management the world over, and India is no exception. With the Prime Minister’s focus, especially, on making India “digital”, a number of programs and schemes have been launched. In fact, many of the schemes have taken a cue from the private sector and have upped the innovation game to deliver a comfortable and convenient money management experience. From the point of sale (POS) machines to merchant cash advance to e-wallets, we are seeing a plethora of FinTech products and services change the way we pay. And this phenomenon is occurring across industries, whether it is the fast moving e-commerce sector or the heavy-duty manufacturing sector.

Consumers are at the receiving end of these changes and need to fast adapt to the new payment means. First it was a revolution of the plastic money, with cash bring replaced by credit and debit cards. This demanded the use of other paraphernalia, such as the point of sale devices at the checkout counters. Now, with niche FinTech innovators such as Paytm and MobiKwik, even the point of sale devices are not required. It is just scan and pay. The government has taken this ease of payment a step further by bringing to light the Bharat QR payment method.

What is Bharat QR 

Bharat QR is a payment process driven by a Quick Response Code or QR code. A user who has the Bharat QR-enabled bank application on his or her mobile phone can make a payment quickly, easily and safely. The best part is that scanning the machine-readable optical grid translates the bank account information without your having to swipe or hand over a card, making it extremely convenient! This is because the QR grid stores the person’s bank information. This is similar to using a Paytm or a FreeCharge or a MobiKwik e-wallet, the advantage being that in Bharat QR, payments are linked directly to your bank account rather than to a separate e-wallet. There is thus no hassle of transferring money to your Paytm wallet or MobiKwik wallet. Alternatively, the user can also access Bharat QR through the Bharat Interface for Money or BHIM universal app, which is a UPI developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI).

Currently, Bharat QR is available on the mobile applications of 15 nationalised and private banks, namely – Axis Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Citi Union Bank, DCB Bank, Karur Vysya Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IDBI Bank, Punjab National Bank, RBL Bank, State Bank of India, Union Bank of India, Vijaya Bank and Yes Bank. It is also linked to VISA, MasterCard, American Express and RuPay cards. Its scale is expected to increase in the coming days.

A look at Point of Sale

Bharat QR is thus a leap ahead of the Point of Sale payment mechanisms, which were the mainstream payment devices used at most commercial and consumer locations such as shops and restaurants. The Point of Sale or POS terminal is a computerised replacement for a cash register that can process credit and debit cards. A customer swipes their card in the machine and enters the PIN number to verify and complete the transaction. The POS is installed at the merchant location, mostly by the bank that they associated with. Not only does the merchant bear the cost of the device and the installation, but they are also compelled to pay the issuer bank a merchant discount rate (MDR). This is a percentage of the transaction value. In a bid to boost cash transactions, the RBI had rationalised the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) for debit cards. Accordingly, a cap has been introduced for debit card point of sale payments, capped at 0.75% for transaction values up to Rs 2000 and at 1% for transaction values above Rs 2000. However, it continues to be an expense for the merchant, and is often passed on to the customer by increasing the selling price of the product or service. Often, buyers may not even realise that they are being charged extra for the MDR.

Other payment instruments: e-wallets

The first leg of replacing the point of sale was the onslaught of e-wallets such as Paytm and FreeCharge. Although they operate on the same principle as that of scanning a QR code, they are somewhat restrictive because they require both the transferor and the receiver to have the same e-wallet installed on their smartphones. The need was thus felt for a faster and easier money transfer mode, which caused the Bharat QR to come to the fore, thanks to the design and development by NCPI.

Advantages of Bharat QR

The Bharat QR is a step towards financial freedom by means of cashless transactions. It relieves one from the hassle of swiping at the point of sale or of facing detection troubles with one’s plastic money at the point of sale. Because there is no requirement of a physical use of a card, the risk of data theft or security issues through tampered or cyber-compromised point of sale devices is also minimised. Costs are reduced from both the consumer and merchant viewpoints, since the need for expensive point of sale devices and their MDR charges is eliminated. A significant advantage of Bharat QR is its ease of operation; i.e., the buyer and seller need not download the same payment application to make the payment happen, unlike Paytm. This is because the Bharat QR is directly linked to a single bank account. It poses a logistical relief, since businessmen now need not shuffle between different wallets and track their credits and debits – a tedious task. Moreover, the money transfer happens instantly because Bharat QR uses an IMPS service. Bharat QR truly has the potential to create a FinTech revolution.

It is clear that Bharat QR paves a convenient way ahead for paying and receiving funds. It is a great idea to get started on this universal tool. As a merchant, you must register with your banks to get authorised to receive payments through Bharat QR. Link your bank account to the BHIM app and generate your unique Bharat QR Code, take a print of your QR code and stick it onto your payment counter to get started.

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How Lenders Determine The Loan Limit For An Online Seller

E-commerce in India is growing at a rapid pace. It’s a highly competitive space as it gives opportunities to thousands of small sellers as well as big brands. However, to compete with the larger players, several sellers face the challenge of sufficient capital.

Be it in day-to-day operations, meeting sudden demand rise or to build a brand value, capital is all that you need to keep your venture growing. Loans are one of the most convenient financing options available for most online sellers. This is to expand their business and to manage gaps in cash flow. Be it a big brand or a small seller, financial backing is much needed to grow on e-commerce platforms.

Leading e-commerce companies have tie-ups with many financial institutions such as banks and NBFCs. These partnerships help encourage sellers on e-commerce platforms by providing them finance, mainly in the form of working capital.

Many financial institutions are working in collaboration with e-commerce companies. They have rolled out financing schemes for their online merchants and sellers. Lenders collect the database of sellers from the partnered e-commerce company. They then determine the quantum of loan and the interest rate for the potential borrower. Usually, loan amount varies from Rs 1 lakh to 100 lakhs.

Some lenders offer higher loan amounts depending on the pattern of the business. These e-commerce loans are offered to online sellers at a competitive rate with flexible repayment tenures.

Interest rate offered varies from 11% to 15 %, depending on the various factors and business record of the seller. It involves a quick and easy application process and minimum documentation.

E-commerce loans can be applied online through a simple process of form filling. Approvals are instant in most of the cases. Seller should be registered with the respective e-commerce company to avail the financing scheme. Usually, e-commerce loans are unsecured loans, i.e. loans without any collateral.

Lenders focus on many records related to the seller. Here are some of the Influencing factors based on which lenders determine the quantum of e-commerce loan:

1) Cash Flow Management: 

When you are selling products online, it’s important to ensure healthy cash flows. Online sales are quite difficult to predict, especially during the festive season and on big sale days. Failure in your marketing strategy can leave you with a lot of inventory that you could not sell. Seasonalities are common in the online selling business. You may end up facing cash flow problems, which ultimately lead to a financial crunch. Effective management of cash flows is a vital element. Lenders take your cash flow forecast statements into consideration while determining the loan limit.

2) Past Record:

Lenders take into consideration the entire business record of the seller since inception of the enterprise. Some of the documents taken into consideration are:

  • Business license,
  • Incorporation or registration details
  • Timely payment of sales tax etc.

The lender will then check your business plan and the performance since inception. They do this to understand the pattern and size of your business. So, be mindful of maintaining a good business record right from the onset.

It’s important for online business owners to keep their records updated. With good records, you may get a preferential rate on credit.

3) Operational History: 

Numbers of years in business counts more in getting the e-commerce loan approved. Generally, most of the financial institutions provide e-commerce loan to online sellers with more than a year of operation. The biggest fear for lenders when providing loans to online sellers is the possibility of default. Hence, stability of business is taken into consideration. Your entrepreneurial experience plays a major role in getting a credit facility for your online business.

4) Return on Sales: 

The efficiency of your business is measured basis the return on sales. Lenders consider the ratio of profit and sales to determine the credit limit that they can offer. The loan amount is determined by lenders based on your sales records of the last six months.

5) Type of Business: 

A lender decides the percentage of finance that they can offer to an online seller. It depends on the type of business. If your business is fast moving and the frequency of buying such products is more, you are likely to get higher loan.

6) Customer Satisfaction and Review: 

Earning customer loyalty and trust is key to being successful in online selling. The first impression of a seller needs to be good for customers to consider purchasing from the seller. Positive customer feedback will ultimately lead to more business. This creates more demand in the online marketplace. Customer review and rating defines your service quality. This helps you in building brand loyalty on the e-commerce platform. High customer satisfaction will ultimately boost your sales. This creates competitive advantage for you in the online marketplace. Lenders consider these elements to evaluate the level of your service quality.

CONCLUSION

With many e-commerce companies collaborating with financiers, availing credit for online businesses is no longer a challenging task. As lenders partner with e-commerce companies to offer customized finance solutions to e-sellers, more opportunities are available for new entrepreneurs to explore the online selling business.

Raising working capital for an online business is now convenient. It has become easy with the financial assistance from e-commerce companies.

With the help of details like:

  • Cash flow forecast,
  • Number of years of business experience,
  • Profitability,
  • Sales volume
  • Customer satisfaction report, etc.

Financial institutions are able to underwrite e-commerce loans for online sellers.

Oct 24, 2018

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How to cater and scale technology for a start-up in rapid growth

There are multiple stages in a start-up. At an early stage, most tech start-ups usually include two founding members – a business head and a tech head leading the validation efforts. Further down the line, we notice parallel and vertical streams of teams leading the initial growth of the company. It’s usually at this stage or after this stage, where the business has some solidarity to it and the focus on building tech for a large and scalable model begins. The following points made in this post have been laid out in view of a mature start-up.

Be Agile

Following an agile methodology for development is a no-brainer for any start-up. The environment is fast paced, catering to a dynamic business where release cycles are frequent. Often, the common pitfalls of this method also show a lack of emphasis on planning and documentation while customer expectations sometimes are not clear. To mitigate this, a hybrid of agile and waterfall approaches enables start-ups to move towards a mature business. To do so, the start-up must;

– Identify problems of the business

– Prioritize the need of the hour for the business

– Allow for high level architected solutions for each problem

– Build feature specs

– Execute in sprints (ideally 2 weeks) for maximum output to customers

Extensibility

Your business logic and data is your Intellectual Property. As a Fintech company, this becomes the most critical piece of software development. It is important to protect your data while also facilitating growth with the exact same data. How do you draw this balance?

Build your logic and algorithmic layer around your data and an external layer that does not directly interact with your data set. This permits external endpoints to be consumed by growth partners as well as reduces development efforts for building tech for internal teams.

Micro-services

Enterprise applications are often built using a monolithic approach or as a single unit. Although it’s a natural approach to development, it can be frustrating because of multiple dependencies on modular structure and deployment to the cloud also becomes a challenge.

In contrast, Micro-services architecture equips you to independently deploy services or pieces of software without large dependencies on other services. These services or pieces of software ultimately add up to become a single application while running its own suite of processes and mechanisms.

Additionally, in a Fintech setup, technology is built to cater multiple teams – both internal and external and having a micro-services architecture easily allows horizontal scaling.

Reusable code

In a start-up, it’s a good idea to prototype development. Prototyping facilitates quick delivery of a piece of software and a better understanding of future product development.

Post prototyping, it’s important to pick the right framework for a full-fledged and scaled application. This is where building code that can be re-used in multiple services becomes a factor of efficiency in development. Building custom libraries (back-end or front-end) and even choosing the right frameworks ensure ease of development across resources and knowledge transfer. A choice of using AngularJS as a front-end framework allows for creating directives specific to custom applications and promotes reusable components.

Build vs Buy

A classic point of debate and contention is always build versus buy. There are multiple points to consider while making such decisions in a growth stage start up to create a fine balance between the two.

Often, out of the box or integrated solutions provide quick solutions for increased productivity to a business need but come at several costs, such as pricing and rigidity of use. Sometimes these solutions are not compatible with existing software or custom solutions.

Custom-built solutions provide competitive advantages, builds intellectual property and fit a specific business need but also comes at several costs, such as time for development and uncertainty in product definition.

A hybrid approach can be an effective way of mitigating the disadvantages of build or buy approaches. At times, building on top of or integrating an existing product into your custom built solution adds greater value to the overall business product. An example of such a solution can be integrating a good workflow management tool into your custom CRM application.

Dev Pathi

Dev has been involved with startups for the past 5 years since he returned from US. He has launched several mobile apps that have been well accepted in the Indian startup scene.

In New York, he worked with Conde Nast helping them move their web infrastructure from an enterprise setup to an open source setup.
Dev manages the technology development initiatives at Capital Float.

Oct 24, 2018

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Implications of GST on SMEs

One of the biggest tax revolutions of India is underway as businesses and tax payers are gearing up for the change. These enterprises and individuals are assessing how the GST rollout will make a difference to them. One such segment is the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) segment, which contributes significantly to India’s GDP and exports. The positive effects from GST are expected to drive decentralization of opportunities and provide an impetus to India’s GDP. However there is some concern that some of its policy implications could slow down business, and that is what small and medium enterprises must prepare for. Gaining know-how on GST rules and implications is the first step towards becoming GST-compliant and becoming tax-savvy. This blog will help you understand which SMEs are eligible for GST and the impact on the sector as a whole.

How GST will impact business transactions

GST will typically impact any business at two ends of the spectrum where transactions are involved i.e. for input transactions and for output transactions.

  • Input transactions: An input transaction is a transaction carried out for the supply of input goods / services like raw material procurement, imports etc. Input transactions will be directly affected due to the changes in taxation levels of raw materials/industrial inputs, affecting the product or service pricing.
  • Output transactions: An output transaction is one that is done for outbound supplies or service delivery. For example, sales is an output transaction. GST will directly impact the sales by altering the taxation of the product or service being sold. Depending on the new tax slab of the goods or service, the profitability of the enterprise will be directly impacted.
    Another significant impact area is due to the concept of “place of supply” and “time of supply”, calling for more stringent supplier compliances.

Which SMEs are eligible for GST? 

SMEs are a major driver in the Indian economy, contributing to almost 7% of the manufacturing GDP and 31% of the services GDP. With a consistent growth rate of about 10%, they employ about 120 million people and contribute to around 46% of the overall exports from India.

Under the GST regime, this significant sector too is set to change. First and foremost, all businesses, including SMEs will need to register for GST under the rules as per the following threshold limits related to aggregate turnover:

Region Liability to Register Liability for Payment of Tax
North East India Rs. 9 lakh Rs. 10 lakh
Rest of India Rs. 19 lakh Rs. 20 lakh

Why should SMEs enrol for GST? 

An SME registered under GST will be recognized as a legal provider of goods and/or services. Tax accounting will be streamlined. Such an SME will be able to maintain proper accounting of taxes paid on input goods or services, and be able to utilise the inputs credit facility to enable better cash flows. GST will provide an opportunity for SMEs to digitize their transaction management, making it efficient for the future. If such an SME scales up, it will be prepared in advance to manage large-scale transactions through software. GST enrolment thus provides a window of opportunity to modernise the business and set up standards for doing business easily in the future.

Moreover, digital transactions tend to leave a digital footprint. These footprints can be used to assess the sector with greater accuracy, as Fintech lenders can create customized financial solutions for these SMEs, which are currently under-served from a credit perspective.

Impact of GST on SMEs

Overall, the SME sector seems to be skittish about the impact of GST. Here is a look at some of the pros that GST brings to SMEs.

  • Ease of starting a business: The old tax regime requires new entrepreneurs to obtain VAT registration for every state separately, with each state having its own rules. Though GST too requires businesses to register in each state, the rules for GST are more uniform and outlined clearly on the portal. This will make it easier to set up an SME.
  • Ability to compete with multinationals and multi-state enterprises: GST is a destination-based taxation system and not source-based. Locally manufactured goods by SMEs will pay the same amount of tax as imported goods from multinationals. Moreover, corporates generally ‘stock transfer’ transfer goods to escape the taxes on inter-state transfers. SMEs are not able to ‘stock transfer’ goods due to lack of infrastructure; they physically transfer goods and pay inter-state taxes, leading to higher expenses. Under GST, the stock transfers would be taxed. This will help put SMEs at par with large multinational corporations, allowing them to compete on an equal tax footage.
  • Transparent transactions: SMEs often do not have the resources (processes and people) to dedicate to tax transaction management. GST will enable an online and transparent view of tax obligations and on-goings, minimizing the need to liaison with tax authorities offline. Though it will take some initial investment now, SMEs that streamline their transactions now will be setting up future-ready systems and processes.
  • Reduced tax burdens due to rise in threshold: Under the old regime, business owners with an annual turnover of Rs 5 lakh (Rs 10 lakh in the North East), mandatorily need to register for VAT and make VAT payments. Under GST businesses above Rs 20 lakh turnover (Rs 10 lakh for North East) qualify for GST registration, which brings huge relief to SMEs. Thus, businesses that fall in the Rs 5 lakh – Rs 10 lakh revenue bucket need not register and will experience better cash flows because they are exempt from GST.
  • Better Cash flow due to input credit facility: Cash flows may increase because of facility of input tax credit, wherein businesses will be able to avail credit on input expenses such as supplies. For example, for a business that procures steel as the raw material to manufacture utensils, the businessman will need to pay tax on the raw materials procured i.e. iron ore. He can adjust the tax paid on inputs from the taxes collected on outputs. This means that only the actual “value addition will be taxed.
  • Better logistics: GST will help eliminate time-consuming border tax protocols, allowing for free flow of goods across borders. This will result in savings in logistical costs. CRISIL estimates that the logistical cost for companies manufacturing bulk goods will be reduced by around 20%.

Key Concerns around GST

  • Investment to go tech-savvy: SMEs are typically not used to managing complex tax compliances, but GST will need SMEs to go digital. SMEs may need to hire or consult with GST experts to bring about a technology makeover resulting in additional expenses.
  • Reduced tax exemptions: SMEs are eligible to avail a central excise threshold exemption of Rs 1.5 crore gross turnover; under the GST regime this exemption will reduce to Rs 20 lakh. As a result, SMEs with turnovers between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 1.5 crore will not be eligible for this tax exemption. This is an additional cost that will pinch SMEs that were previously used to being tax exempt.
  • Higher tax rates may impact profitability: Despite assurances by the Finance Minister that overall tax slabs will not increase, the GST slabs indicate otherwise. The services tax rate has distinctly increased from 15% to 18%. Higher tax outflows means lesser profitability.
  • Strict tax-compliance norms means more costs: GST will bring in an era of stringent compliance. For example, purchase invoices raised will have to be reconciled with the supplier of the goods. These invoices have to be uploaded by the entity by the 10th of every month and will need to be reconciled by the 15th of every month. SMEs are not used to carrying out such detailed and timely tax transactions and will need to hire personnel to help with tax management and compliance.
  • Supplier-side compliance will affect the GST compliance rating: The ability of an SME to claim refunds is a direct result of its GST compliance rating. Going ahead, SMEs will be accountable for their suppliers’ non-compliance and they may take a hit on their Compliance Rating due to non-compliance at any leg of the operating cycle, right from procurement to service. Maintaining compliance records, periodic audits will need to be instated to ensure compliance of all stakeholders. This responsibility of supplier-side compliance is an added cost to the company.
  • Time lag in input credit process: Input credit will only be available after a supplier declares the particulars of the supply and after these details are validated by the buyer electronically. Thus, a supplier is heavily dependent on the buyer’s response, leading to a probable time lag in availing input credit. Moreover, the timeline for claiming input tax credit is very limited— before the due date of filing returns for September of the next financial year, or, the due date of filing annual returns, whichever is later.

GST is all set to usher in an era of simplified taxation. SMEs must decide on the right investments to optimise the benefits of the change. This means investing time and resources in understanding the change, getting the right people and processes to change the way they do business to ensure GST-adherence. Such SMEs will emerge future-ready and poised to scale their business like never before.Get more information about GST on our GST blog.

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Oct 24, 2018