Despite India’s significant progress, a large section of its population remains outside the formal economy without access to basic financial services. It puts them at a disadvantage in terms of economic opportunities.

At PayNearby, we believe that access to financial services is critical for the overall growth and development of India. The company was founded with the vision of making financial services available to the mass Indian population, which represents the real Bharat. With seed capital infused from the Roha Group, we orchestrated our key functions, including distribution and technology, to ensure that essential financial services such as cash withdrawal, remittances, savings, insurance and more are available to every Indian in an assisted mode at a nearby store.

We noticed that most of the digital innovations were focussed primarily on the privileged 10 per cent of the population. We realised that leveraging the neighbourhood retail store, which is a symbol of trust for its communities, could help bring about effective changes and financial inclusion in their localities.

Therefore, we trained, tooled, and brought the local retailers to the forefront of financial inclusion, where they could service their local communities with all the essential services. It also ensured that the local retailer stayed relevant and commercially viable.

In India, the majority of population either lacks the technical know-how or is inadvertently technology-shy. Our platform offers handholding besides trust and confidence, which form an integral part of financial transactions. PayNearby is winning the trust of the masses and that is evident from the outstanding ground-level work that we have done, ensuring monthly financial access worth ₹8,000 crore across 20,000-plus PIN codes in the country. Among the 115 districts identified by Niti Ayog as Aspirational Districts, we enable financial inclusion worth ₹1,100 crore.

Bharat is still largely cash-driven. Ensuring a continuous flow of cash is essential to keeping the rural economy operational. But due to several obstacles like low ATM penetration, the rural communities have difficulty in accessing this cash. These challenges continue to slow down the provision of basic banking amenities to this segment of the population. For ATM cash withdrawals, our Micro ATM, along with Aadhaar ATM network, is a gamechanger, especially for the marginalised population.

One area where PayNearby has been particularly successful is in enabling DBT (direct benefit transfer) withdrawals at the last mile. DBT has been a lifeline for many Indians, and PayNearby’s network of retailers has made it easy for people to access their benefits quickly and efficiently. With a 28 per cent market share in AePS, PayNearby is privileged to serve Bharat through its deeply entrenched DaaS network, facilitating DBT to all citizens at a nearby store.

Today, with its tech-backed Distribution-as-a-Service (DaaS) network of 50 lakh-plus retailers, PayNearby is serves 75 per cent of India and is enables services such as cash withdrawal, remittance, Aadhaar Banking, bill payment and recharges, savings, online entertainment, education, travel, e-commerce, insurance, and more across 20,000-plus PIN codes.

Digital gap

We are also on the mission to bridge the digital gap and making other essential services available at the last mile. In line with this is our recent initiative PayNearby Mall, which looks to elevate every trusted small store in Bharat into a supermall. It is a forerunner to our upcoming ONDC initiative, which will further democratise access to digital commerce for businesses of all sizes across the country.

The writer is the Founder, MD & CEO of PayNearby