Mastercard, a technology company in the global payments industry, remains committed to invest $1 billion in India over the next five years despite ongoing Covid-19 challenges. The proposed investments, which will be on top of the $1 billion that Mastercard invested in Indian market in the last five years, will be focussed on building digital payment infrastructure and providing technology and innovation in the digital payments space, said Vikas Varma, Chief Operating Officer, South Asia, Mastercard.

“Mastercard remains bullish in this market and completely relentless in the way we commit ourselves to the growth potential of the Indian market. The current Covid-19 situation may have led to volume contraction (in April to June quarter), but in general, we don’t see a long-term impact whatsoever from digital payments standpoint brought about by Covid-19. If anything, consumers will become more savvy and smarter and pay more heed to new forms of payments that are more convenient and more safe. There will only be more digital payments,” he told BusinessLine .

After the US, India is the second-largest employee base for Mastercard with over 2,500 employees across multiple locations.

“From a business standpoint, our operations continue as normal during these Covid-19 times because we are supported by a core technology infrastructure. Our systems are in place to maintain network operations, customers support while we manage the safety of the employees,” said Varma.

“We are seeing gradual easing of restrictions and phased opening in India. There has been some growth in digital payments. It’s a gradual recovery. Spending levels are moving up though nowhere near in the past. We see spending will return to pre-Covid levels in 12 to 18 months as segments such as travel and entertainment are affected. While digital transactions have grown significantly, it would be fair to say there is an overall contraction and no one category would be able to make up for some of the others,” he said.

Contactless cards

Varma said that Mastercard will push its client banks in India to go for contactless cards. He highlighted that contactless payments are being used for daily shopping, pharmacies and groceries.

He said that contactless payments will gain traction not only through plastic cards but also through smartphones. “People are getting rapidly enabled on contactless plastic cards today. Paying contactless through mobile phones is taking off in a fairly big way,”said Varma.

Besides contactless, Mastercard also sees ‘tokenisation’ as key growth driver as digital payments surge in the Indian market. The payment company also sees SoftPoS and QR Codes take off in the IHendian market in the years to come.

Through a SoftPoS, merchants can use their smartphones to accept payments. There won’t be any need for physical infrastructure like a PoS machine at the level of merchant to accept payments.

Mastercard is also quite bullish on e-commerce, with 68 per cent of consumers polled in India believing there will be less on-store shopping in the future.