Medianama has a post on PayUMoney’s wallet. It gives a crisp explanation of types of Pre-paid Wallet Instruments in India.

  • Closed System Payment Instruments: which are not reloadable with cash and do not permit cash withdrawal (for example: phone calling, prepaid voucher and gift vouchers)
  • Semi-Closed System Payment Instruments: used at merchant locations, and which can be reloaded, but do not allow cash withdrawal (for example: cash cards and smart cards)
  • Semi-Open System Payment Instruments: these can be reloadable or non-reloadable, and can be used at any point-of-sale terminal, but they do not allow cash withdrawal. For example: gift cards issued by banks
  • Open System Payment Instruments: these can be re-loadable or non-reloadable, but most importantly, they permit cash withdrawal at ATMs. Examples of such cards are the Payroll cards and travel cards.


mChek Bangalore based mobile payment company, mChek has launched a mobile bill payment service for Airtel postpaid users.

Airtel postpaid users across the country can pay their bills via SMS using any valid Visa credit card. mChek plans to add support for Mastercard credit cards shortly. The service is entirely free to the user.

How it works:

Airtel users need to sign-up for this service by sending sms MCHEK to 121 or by going to Signing-up involves registering the credit card and creating a 4-digit mChekPIN.

Paying your current bill is simple, sms MPAY to 121.

One can specify the payment amount by smsing MPAY 199 to 121.

Paying on other’s behalf is also possible. E.g. To pay Rupees 325 on behalf of 9810098100, sms MPAY 325 9810098100 to 121.

After sending the MPAY sms, user is asked to enter his mChekPIN (over a USSD call). On successful entry of mChekPIN, the transaction is completed and he receives an instant receipt.

IVRS-based mobile bill payment services have been around for some time now. But as far as I know, this is the first service of its kind.

  • It has support across all circles of the operator – Airtel
  • It is integrated into the main 121 system of Airtel
  • The transaction is posted into the Airtel billing system instantly
  • The entire process – registration and payment – is through mainstream access channels like SMS & USSD

mChek can become a mpayment aggregator and increase its usefulness by enrolling utility and e-ticketing companies. Online utility bill payments through credit cards is fast gaining adoption. The reason is simple – paying bills online saves you the hassles of queues and cheques. It also earns you some credit card points. If the same facility, simplicity, security and convenience is extended to a larger population by way of mobiles – it can be a hit.


Airtel post-paid users in Delhi can now pay their mobile phone bill from the mobile itself by using mChek’s newly launched mobile payment service.

mChek mChek is a payment system using mobile phones. Currently any credit card issued by any bank can be used with mChek. mChek transactions will be reflected as any other transaction in your credit card statement.

If you are a post-paid Airtel user in Delhi, you might have received the following messages.

Airtel presents a complimentary bill payment service on SMS. For details send MCHEK to 170(free).

On sending the above message, you get a 3-SMS reply with the following message:

(1/3) Airtel presents the World’s first Mobile Bill Payment Service using mChek. Simply pay your bills over an SMS. Register your valid Visa/Master Credit Card.

(2/3) Just send MCHEK to 458(toll-free) or visit & follow instructions to register your Airtel mobile. mChek is Visa Certified & absolutely Safe.

(3/3) This Facility is available to you Free of Cost. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

Here is a demo of how this works.

Disclosure: Rajesh Jain, MD of the company I work with, is on the Board of Directors of mChek.


M for Mobile. M for Money. M for Mobile Money.

Vikramaditya Coin This artice in ET may seem to be aggrandizing the scope for mobile payments. But I think the writer Mayur Shetty is on solid ground when seeing possibilities for some sort of convergence between banks and mobile operators. Japan and Slovenia are two countries I know where such convergence experiments are already being conducted. More on that later.

Key points from the article:

  • It is not rival financial service companies but the telecom operators who might well emerge as the biggest challengers to the monopoly that banks have had over the industry of money.
  • The total money mobilised by telecom companies as advance payment from pre-paid users for talktime works out to Rs 4,459 crore.
  • The advanced billing systems used by telcos allow them to record the smallest transaction in a cost effective manner, making it suitable for micro-payments.
  • Total number of bank accounts in the country, stands at 334 million savings and current accounts.
  • “Phone banking” is currently seen as a value added service provided by banks that allows you to operate your bank account over the phone.
  • Mobile phone might well emerge as one the major payment channels.
  • Banks and telcos can collaborate to offer the latest in banking services to the rural areas.
  • Banks can use mobile service providers for delivery of microfinance.
  • Tying up with banks can help telcos to reduce non-performing assets and collect payments.


PayMate Mobile payments enabler PayMate has brought in Akshay Sharma as AVP – Marketing, PR & Brand Development.

Akshay was Marketing Manager at MTV, where he was instrumental in executing projects such as the Lycra MTV Style Awards, MTV Youth Icon of the Year, Kitni Mast Hai Zindagi (MTV’s first ever TV serial). Prior to MTV, Akshay had stints with Radio Mirchi, ITC and Lokhandwala Hotels.

PayMate has currently partnered with Citibank to offer its customers the PayMate option. A Citibank customer can use PayMate to make payments at storefronts of these merchants as of now.

Rediff, Naukri, Jeevan Saathi, 99 acres,, Travel Mart, Big Tree (Movie ticket bookings) and Telebrands (Teleshopping)

I believe PayMate has to work on the following three fronts to activate the ecosystem.

  • Banks: Get more banks in its fold to increase number of potential userbase
  • Merchants: Having large number of merchants who accept payment through PayMate increases its attractiveness
  • Customers: This is obvious. After all money is ingested into the ecosystem by the customers

Akshay rightly points out that consumer adoption of the new technology and payment method will be the biggest challenge.

“Our biggest challenge is going to be consumer adoption. While VAS has taken off in a big way, people in India are not yet exposed to the thought of being able to transact through their mobile phones. I guess it’s also hard to believe that wireless transactions can be so convenient, easy and secure, and that’s exactly what we aim to address through our marketing initiatives in the times to come.


PayMate, a mobile payments company spun off by Coruscant Tec, has collaborated with Citibank and Euronet to launch a mobile payment solution for Citibank customers.

Heres how PayMate works:

  • Citibank customers need to sign up for this service with the bank by simply sending “PayMate” as an SMS to 2484.
  • The customer will then be called back and registered for the service following which they can conveniently shop at Rediff, Naukri, Cleartrip, Jeevansaathi and 99 Acres for their products.
  • Once the product has been selected, the user would send a single SMS with pin (provided by the bank) confirming the transaction.
  • On receiving this SMS, the bank will verify the user’s mobile number with the account and on confirmation will debit the account accordingly.
  • The merchant and the customer will receive a confirmation message from the bank approving the transaction.

A mobile payment platform such as PayMate could potentially see users buy their airline tickets, railways tickets, shop for their personal needs such as groceries, apparels etc. and pay through their mobile wallet.

Ajay Adiseshann, Founder & MD, PayMate:

“The demand for VAS from mobile phones is growing at a tremendous rate, thus we are bringing in new services, better applications, richer content and continuous connection capabilities. PayMate is a robust and convenient m-commerce solution, which will provide benefits to all members of the ecosystem, ranging from the operator, to the service provider all the way to the end consumer. We are initially offering PayMate with Rediff, Naukri, Cleartrip, Jeevansaathi and 99 Acres, and are already in talks with several other service providers thereby giving customers’ greater options.”

Kumar Apurva-National Head:- Mobility, New Media & Ad Sales,

“The group has believed in constant innovation and this year a major thrust is to go beyond the web and deliver relevant content on multiple devices and multiple platforms. We see huge scope in an application like PayMate as VAS in India is still driven by SMS, and the efficiency of a payment solution like PayMate looks very promising.”

PayMate India recently received its first round of funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Sherpalo Ventures.

The following are touted as salient features of PayMate:

  • PayMate allows mobile subscribers to make payments for merchant services using their cell phones. It is connected to merchants and banks to enable transactions.
  • PayMate does not require any additional software or Mobile SIM upgrade to process transactions.
  • Users just require a basic entry level phone with SMS enabled to transact, which is available on all cell phones in India.
  • PayMate allows for a transaction to be completed with a single SMS (one click) technology.
  • It is the only solution which will allow for both credit and debit card transactions using a mobile phone.
  • Users are not required to disclose banking information.
  • Offers safe and secure transactions as the platform does not operate over the public domain unlike the internet but over the signaling system which is secure.
  • The trust model is based on the recommendations by Ernst & Young; which provides the security measures for both the bank as well as the customer.

Source: Press Release


Sherpalo Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, two of Silicon Valley’s most reputed venture capital firms, today announced their investment in Paymate, a mobile commerce technology provider.

Paymate is a mobile payment platform that allows users to use their mobile phones to make payments.

The total investment by both the VCs in Paymate is reported to be $5 million.

Paymate is founded by Ajay Adiseshann, formerly the CEO of Coruscant Tec, a mobile value added services company and Probir Roy, formerly CIO of StarTV and Co-Founder Coruscant Tec. The Company is advised by Alex Kuruvilla, the former head of MTV Networks in India.

Ajit Nazre of Kleiner Perkins said,

“Mobile phones in India play the role of computers in the West. Paymate is an exceptional company that has created a unique ecosystem with key banks, merchants and technology enablers to enable a truly ubiquitous and scalable mobile commerce solution.


Shopping portal has announced that its users will be able to buy products and services over their phones and pay using JiGrahak’s m-commerce/m-payment platform


ET story on potential of m-commerce in India.

Reliance Infocomm and Bharti Tele-Ventures are the early movers in the market, which offer m-commerce services such as bill payment and ticket purchases. Reliance’s mobile payment facility offers services such as paying monthly bills, book railway and airline tickets and book movie tickets.

Airtel, ICICI Bank and VISA have tied up to introduce mChq so that Airtel customers and ICICI Bank Visa cardholders can clear their purchases through their mobile phones. Airtel also provides a facility through which a prepaid customer can recharge his prepaid card electronically to any denomination. Out of their pre-paid users, 70% of total, about 60% recharge through the electronic process.

“While CDMA networks are more suited for m-commerce type of transactions compared to GSM operators, in India, it is the GSM subscribers who have a higher usage of the various mobile phone services compared to the CDMA subscribers who largely belong to the lower ARPU spending category,


State Bank of India jointly with Visa International launched pre-paid cards on the mChq platform, which is a mobile-to-mobile payment option. It will enable students, faculty and staff of IIT and those living in nearby areas to pay for their purchases with their Airtel mobile phones.

Here is how the systems works:

The service will be available to Airtel subscribers who have an SBI pre-paid card.

SBI pre-paid cardholders will provide their mobile numbers or a secure identity code. This is keyed into the merchant’s handset with the transaction amount and the merchant’s Personal Identification Number.

The transaction details are then processed and sent to the customer’s mobile for immediate verification. The customer can access funds for the transaction by keying in the PIN number.

The merchant is given authorisation with an electronic message that is recorded and stored on the SIM card by both the customer and the merchant.

Mumbai-based company A Little World is the technology partner of Airtel and powers the mChq technology.

Related: mChq