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A Micropayments Infrastructure for India

January 18th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Even with India’s 500+ million mobile connections and a dozen operators, there has been limited innovation in the non-voice space. When one talks to some of the content and mobile companies, there is a growing feeling that things are just the way they were three years ago. Is there something that can be done to get us out of this stagnation and unleash innovation?

Before we start to address that question, let us take a look at some of the latest numbers from China (as of 2009-end):

  • Internet users: 384 million (+28.9% year-on-year)
  • Broadband users: 346 million (+76% yoy)
  • Mobile Internet users: 233 million, doubled in the past year. (IAMAI’s latest report puts India’s mobile Internet user base at all of 2 million.)

The market cap of China’s largest Internet company, Tencent, is $40 billion. While I haven’t calculated it, the market cap of China’s digital companies would probably be in excess of $75 billion.

India needs that kind of wealth creation. That is what can help spur entrepreneurship and innovation across the country.

Tomorrow: Part 2

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 MrDalal // Jan 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    “Even with India’s 500+ million mobile connections and a dozen operators, there has been limited innovation in the non-voice space. ”

    Things will remain like this for more time, I am afraid. I enlist my reasons below:

    1. Its tricky to make people realise the value of applications when they havent experienced it in any other medium before. For someone who hasnt experienced web search, mobile search is not some killer app, its just an additional thing that he doesnt have to depend upon, for anything.

    2. The apps that typically work on data make a huge assumption of an organised market. This just doesnt exist in India. A classic example would be micropayments.

    3. There is an inherent limitation on the types of apps one can deliver on data in India, given the steep learning curve ppl need to go through to use the apps (the critical mass of indian cellfone population has this problem – they can make a call, pick a call and thats it). the interface has to be dead, dead simple to solve this problem.

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