Know Your Mobile Wallets: Paytm, MobiKwik, FreeCharge, Ola Money & Others

With the demonetisation of the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, we’re hearing a lot of interest in mobile wallets and digital payments as an alternative to carrying around lots of Rs. 100 notes until you get your new currency at least. Even setting aside the hassles that are going to be created by the switch to new notes, there are a lot of benefits to using digital wallets and electronic cash instead of paper money – it helps cut out the large costs involved in printing and transporting huge amounts of paper money, simplifies logistics, along with protection from theft and counterfeiting. Sensing an opportunity, FreeCharge, Paytm, and Ola Money all took out front-page advertisements in national dailies on Thursday.

Right now, the wallet companies are rejoicing, and e-commerce platforms are closing cash on delivery. Companies such as FreeCharge, Paytm, Mobikwik, and Ola Money have all reported a surge in signups.

While there are still several advantages to cash, the good news is that if you’ve decided to trust more in the digital economy, then things have never looked better. You can load your money into virtual wallets very easily now – from cash in some cases – and wallets are now accepted payment options in a wide variety of places both online and offline; most wallets also support extremely simple P2P transfers, so you can send money to a friend or family member with ease.

If you’re considering joining the wallet bandwagon, which one should you pick? Here is a look at some of the most popular wallets, and why you should use them. Picking a wallet today still comes down to the services you use; the real world implementation of wallets is still fairly limited across the board, recharges are common to all, and they’re all evolving in terms of the user interface right now, and getting better. So right now, the services you can use are what really matter.

1) Paytm
Paytm claims to have a user-base of 150 million, and you can use it online on its own e-commerce marketplace, for recharges, or on sites such as BookMyShow and IRCTC. You can also book train tickets via Paytm. It is also one of the payment options on popular delivery services such as Grofers, Swiggy and Zomato order, and is also used as a payment option with Uber.

Swiggy and Zomato support multiple wallets, but with Uber, you can pay by cash, card, or Paytm. This means that if you spend a lot of time taking Uber taxis, you probably already have a Paytm wallet – and if you don’t, then you should get one because Paytm keeps running offers on Uber rides, so you can save a fair bit of money. Paytm also has an e-commerce store that offers pretty good discounts in the form of cashbacks to its wallet. It’s also a good option because of how widespread it is online, and because of an increasing online presence, at petrol pumps and stores.

2) FreeCharge
FreeCharge has focused on fast and easy transactions and claims you can complete a recharge or a money transfer from the app in under 10 seconds. It offers lots of deals on recharges, and it has also partnered with fast food outlets such as McDonald’s and Cafe Coffee Day to allow you to pay using the mobile wallet.

FreeCharge is owned by Snapdeal, and your FreeCharge balance can be used on some products via Snapdeal; all modes of payment can also be refunded to your FreeCharge balance. The company also announced FreeCharge Wallet-on-Delivery as an alternative to Cash on Delivery. If you use Snapdeal a lot, then FreeCharge is a good option; the company is also focusing a lot on offline partners now.

3) MobiKwik
MobiKwik is playing catch-up to Paytm, and like Hertz, it’s motto seems to be: we try harder. The wallet has partnerships everywhere when you’re looking at local deliveries. The big boys such as Swiggy and Zomato Order have partnered widely, but there’s a growing number of restaurants who avoid aggregators, and there, MobiKwik seems to be much more prominent. It has also tied up with several offline chains, and through Ezetap (along with FreeCharge and Paytm) is available is several retail locations as well through the point of sale machines. It also offers cashbacks and deals for offline shopping – go to a partner restaurant and pay via MobiKwik to get discounts in the form of cashbacks.

One of the reasons why MobiKwik is an appealing platform is that it puts a lot of effort into converting your cash into digital money – it even has a cash pickup service where an agent will come to your house to collect cash, in order to load your wallet. This is currently only in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, and Jaipur, and the minimum amount is Rs. 100.

4) Ola Money
Ola Money started off as a way to pay for your Ola rides, but the taxi aggregator quickly realised that there were a lot of other ways in which it could be useful. The wallet is accepted across a variety of partners, both online and offline, as well as for recharges and P2P transfers to your contacts. And of course, you can still use it to pay your cab fare.

In general, the range of partnerships available for Ola is less than that with the top three entries in the list, but it’s ahead of most other options, and if you also use Ola a lot, then it’s very convenient to keep your Ola Money topped up.

5) PayUMoney
PayUMoney is another popular wallet option that has a lot of partners in the online space. It’s also been working to build up its offline presence. It is a payment option on a number of different online platforms, with a strong focus on SMBs. While our table below focuses on the big marketplaces, PayU has a strong presence across a number of smaller providers, as it also works as a payments gateway. The company has also launched a POS terminal for retailers where it doesn’t charge a monthly rental, which should help with offline adoption.

Apart from these five, there are several other companies that are also highly active in the wallets space in India. Vodafone and Airtel have m-Pesa and Airtel Money respectively; these can be used for recharges and money transfers, and are available in some offline destinations too. In our opinion, these have been bank-led initiatives, and evolved more slowly than the non-telco offerings. Oxigen is another popular wallet that you should definitely consider – it’s offline network is widespread throughout smaller towns and cities, making it a good option. However, it doesn’t have as many high profile partners in the local delivery and taxi space, which are two areas where wallets are really convenient.

ItzCash is another interesting wallet with a huge base, but it actually got its start with prepaid cards, which can be used as gift cards, an in terms of its wallet, the UI and reach is again limited in the local delivery and taxi categories. Finally, there’s Jio Money – the newest kid on the block, and right now, perhaps the least useful. With Jio itself catching on now, we certainly wouldn’t write this app off, if for no other reason than because everyone who gets a Jio connection will be default have access to this app.

If Jio really picks up, and so do its associated services, then Jio Money could end up being the most useful app of the lot, though it’s too soon to say right now.

These are the most well known wallets in India that you could be using, and why. Below is a quick list to understand the pros and cons of the different wallets, though remember that this list is not exhaustive, and only indicative. Few wallet companies list out all their partners, so finding all the different places you can use these becomes a case of hunting for them one app or site at a time.

Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in Gadgets 360

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