After days of going on a frenzied hunt for cash at ATMs and banks, chances are you’re ready to yield to the high-decibel campaign to go digital. You’ve probably even heard of e-wallets and want to try out one or more of them.
But here’s the thing: no two wallets are the same. In the safety and convenience features that they offer, there is substantial variance.
Before you sign on, therefore, it is better to know their distinctive features, and figure out which e-wallet might work best for you.What’s common, what isn’t
All the wallets have common features such as payment to merchants, utility payments, and transfer of money to friends.
ICICI Bank’s Pockets can work as a standalone wallet: there is no need to hold an ICICI Bank account, but if you do have one, you can link the wallet to it. Once that’s done, money transfer to the wallet is just a click away. It’s the same with SBI Buddy and the wallets of most banks. Pockets is also integrated with United Payments Interface (UPI), the payment system that’s widely integrated across banks.
The advantage with Pockets is that it comes with a physical card, a replica of the virtual, in-app card. You can use it to make payments in real-world establishments and on websites and apps that accept only cards. It is also a mini-bank in itself: you can open a recurring deposit or apply for loans. Udio and Zeta also offer physical cards, having tied up with RBL Bank.
SBI Buddy is a mobile-only wallet. If an SBI account is linked, money transfer to the wallet is easy, but not as seamless as with Pockets. The app does not have UPI facility, but its USP is that it has an in-app facility to book rail tickets.
MobiKwik has been innovating a lot, and its latest is the launch of a ‘Lite’ version that is just 750 kB. It loads quite fast even on mobiles with low memory.
The ‘original’ MobiKwik, apart from other e-wallet features, has an important feature: those who are uncomfortable with loading wallets online can do so by making cash deposits in ICICI Bank and merchant establishments. It also has a cash pick-up facility in Delhi/NCR, Mumbai, Jaipur and Surat.
Paytm has its own e-store and in-app bus, movie, flight, train and hotel bookings. You can also buy cars and bikes. Paytm, too, allows cash loads through ICICI Bank and Axis Bank.
Freecharge belongs to Snapdeal, and has a virtual card tie-up with YES Bank, which can be loaded for shopping.
Unfortunately, most of the apps, except those from banks, need no code or password to log in. They provide for PIN, password or fingerprint authentication only during transfer or payments. That may give pause among those looking for layers of security.