Doing digital transactions in your own language to be possible soon

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on December 08, 2016


Not knowing English, the language in which mobile telephony and the Internet were designed and evolved grounds-up, may lead to frauds and cybercrimes—a major reason why many smartphone users in the post-demonetization era are rather apprehensive of using e-wallets or digital financial transactions and still crowding the ATMs and banks. But a possible solution is round-the-corner: the first payment bank would go live with the entire transaction in your local language by March 2017.

“We will go live with full-fledged transactions of the first payment bank in an Indian language—except the “Roman/Arabic” numerals, which most people now recognize—by February-March next year,” Arvind Pani, Founder-CEO of Bengaluru-based Reverie Language Technologies, told BusinessLine. However, he declined to name the bank at this stage. The RBI has granted license to 12 payments banks which are expected to start functioning next year.

“We are also in advanced talks with three to four e-wallet companies to provide them our cloud-based Language as a Solution (LaaS) platform that would enable them to go multi-lingual” Vijayananda Prabhu, Vice President, Client Engagement, said. An estimated one million new e-wallet users are joining the bandwagon every day and nearly 30 e-wallet companies are vying for new customers through an advertising blitz.

At present, e-wallets like Mobikwik and PayTM offer partial content in local languages as transaction details are still in English. The ICICI Bank, which developed India’s first “digital village”, Akodara in Gujarat, had also developed content for SMS-based financial transaction in Gujarati language. “We want to change this, with the entire thing to be in the local language, except numerals.”

In May 2015, the Reverie Language Gateway powered India’s first multilingual securities app launched by HDFC Securities, and also the country’s first comprehensive multilingual weather channel.

Pani pointed out that the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India recognizes 22 languages, of which 12 are predominant and used by nearly 85% people. On the other hand, only 4-5% people use English fluently as a medium. Since the Internet and mobile telephony predominantly use English in most countries, customers unfamiliar with this language but willing to make financial transaction through digital media—online/mobile telephony—apprehended frauds. That was why these transactions are done in local languages in countries like China and Japan.

India currently has nearly 40 crore smartphone users, including about 24 crore unbanked people. With the disruption brought in by the November 8 demonetization, many people would be pushed into digital transaction and ‘less-cash’ economy—and they could embrace it if they could do it in their own language, Pani said.

India’s media is predominantly in the local languages with an annual market size—in print, digital, electronic— being nearly $20 billion. Clearly, most Indians are comfortable in their own language, Prabhu said.

In terms of value, the mobile wallet transactions are estimated to leapfrog from Rs.5,500 crore in 2015-16 to Rs.30,000 crore in 2022. From 2016 to 2020, the number of Internet users in India is estimated to grow from 37.5 crore to 65 crore and that of smartphone users from 40 crore to 55 crore.

However, currently, only 20% bank customers depend on digital transaction while 75% still go the traditional banking way. The payments banks expect to reverse this ratio.

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Published on December 08, 2016
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