Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mobile wallets have disappointed

Although India returns to cash normalcy now, it has been a mystery, why Rs.2000 notes were printed instead of smaller denomination notes which would have saved a lot of trouble to citizens.
The past few months have seen a rise in advertising and promotions of digital wallets like Paytm, Freecharge and Mobikwik.

I tried a Paytm and Mobikwik and skipped Freecharge due to the large number of reviews saying they don't honour cashbacks and a load of other complaints.


  • Registration problems: For what is cited as the most popular e-wallet in India, and with even tiny shops in Delhi putting up "Paytm accepted here" posters, I was surprised that I wasn't even able to register with Paytm. The textfield in the registration page wasn't accepting any keystrokes! A few refreshes and tries later, it still didn't work. Wrote to Paytm about it and they fixed it.
  • Godnose what problems: After creating my account, at a critical time when I needed to make a payment to someone a few hours later, I logged in to transfer money into the Paytm wallet, and Paytm pops up a dialog box asking for my date of birth. Oddly, no year option is provided below 2010. Even after manually typing the correct date of birth, the dialog box just wouldn't disappear!
  • Payment problems: A friend tried paying at KFC with his Paytm account. We waited more than 4 minutes for the transfer to happen, tried again with other customers waiting behind us and finally just did a cash payment.

I had it with Paytm. Logged out and didn't bother with it again.


Mobikwik was in the news when people were posting comments on Facebook about PayTm offering poor service, and somebody from Mobikwik was busy posting comments inviting people to use Mobikwik instead. Such an action in itself shows a lack of class. More...

Good parts: 

  • Account creation: No trouble with account creation. 
  • Money transfer: Transferred money to the wallet from my bank easily. Transferred money to another bank (after some initial hassles) easily (you can't transfer any amount that you got via a purported cashback though). This is one function that is performed by mobile wallets very well. Bank to wallet to bank transfers. No extra charges involved. [EDIT: As of Feb 2017, when I tried doing a transfer, I was charged a processing fee of Rs.84 for transferring Rs.2000. Feeling cheated, I tried transferring the remaining amount from the Mobikwik wallet to my bank account, and I got an error saying "you have exceeded the daily number of transfers limit". Sad.]

Bad parts:

  • Silly name entry error: I typed in the bank account number and the IFSC code of the bank of the person I needed to urgently transfer money to, and Mobikwik does not process the request. It shows an error message for two seconds after which the message disappears. Couldn't even read it. Tried again and saw the error "oops. Sender name is a mandatory field". Much later, the Mobikwik team replies to my complaint saying it was because I didn't enter my name in my profile. This is such a dumb way to create a software!
  • Responses to complaints: You can't call up. You have to write them a complaint which it seems gets answered by an AI program that gives you some standardized reply. You then have to reopen the ticket and then a human responds. Nice way to delay resolutions and annoy customers.
  • Bloated bus booking costs: Mobikwik says they offer 50% and 100% cashback on bus bookings. But the cashbacks are only until a limit of a few hundred rupees. So if you book a bus for Rs.1500, you won't get Rs.1500 credited back to your account. Moreover, the bus prices listed for my trip were shown as starting from Rs.1148. On, the same buses were listed for Rs.200 lesser, and there were also many other buses listed at half the price. Mobikwik cashbacks are a farce.
  • Bloated electricity bill payment costs: If one tries to pay their electricity bill via a government website, the website charges an additional 50 paisa over the bill. Mobikwik charges Rs.8 extra, and then pretends to give you a Rs.4 cashback. So basically you end up paying Rs.3.5 more than required. If it wasn't for the extra cost and cashback pretence, it would have actually been convenient paying through an e-wallet.
  • Nonexistent water bill payment: Clicking the "view bill" button does not even show the bill amount. Complaining, results in a standard AI reply. Reopening the ticket results in "We would like to inform you that it was due to an up-gradation. In such cases your Wallet balance is not deducted. Please try again". They didn't bother to fix it anyway. This bill payment was probably just a gimmick.
  • Free petrol farce: I receive an SMS about being able to get free petrol; 100% cashback, from designated petrol bunks from 6pm to 9pm on 3 days. The rider is that the limit is Rs.100 cashback although it says 100% cashback. I look at the list of petrol bunks, go to one of them and ask how I can pay via Mobikwik. They tell me they haven't even heard of any such offer and that they accept only card payments. 

Mobikwik; you have sorely disappointed.


The government's Unified Payment Interface. This would actually be good if only more people adopted it. Sadly, everywhere I have asked, people haven't even heard of it.


While digital payments and tracking are nice and it would lead to a better economy, some people have told me how data is used and misused. You certainly don't want some private company or even a government organization knowing how many underwears, fruits or other items you purchased at what time of the year. You don't want them analyzing that information, making predictions of what you would buy next and sending you targeted advertisements or making conclusions about your life based on your purchases.

The idea of a cashless society is good, but is not really practical or likeable in practice. E-wallets have a very long way to go in terms of service, and a great deal to buck up in re-gaining the trust of people.

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