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A Little World is an Indian company that provides payment systems used in extending branchless financial services to low-income populations. They have in particular developed ZERO, India’s first domestic payment system with specific focus on reaching out to masses with lowest available communication infrastructure along with other financial services.
Shortage of small change is a well-known issue in India. It mainly results from inflation – which is common in emerging economies. Over the years, small change has lost its value and the lack of small denominations is affecting consumers and retailers. In 2016, India’s demonetization policy accentuated this challenge as the government removed 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee banknotes from circulation. Today it is common to buy additional items in local stores so that your bill ends up as a round number, or even to get your change in candies. Why is that? As mentioned, coins are not easily available – and it can also be too much hassle to select, count and give customers their exact change. Mainstream credit, debit or prepaid cards do not solve this problem as they usually require a minimum payment of Rs. 200.
In 2014, in an attempt to make grocery shopping easier, SBI (State Bank of India) partnered with one of the largest government owned dairy company, Mother Dairy, to launch a co-branded closed loop card. The “SBI-Mother Dairy SmartChange Card” and can be used to buy Mother Dairy selected items at dedicated outlets or selected retail outlets. More than 850 stores are using this technology.
This solution was developed by Mumbai-based microfinance institution A Little World, and uses Famoco’s FX100 with embedded payment and top up applications that are fully secure and managed over the air. As of today, more than 850 Famoco devices have been deployed on the field.
Smart Change cards are solving the problem of small change by making everyday payment quicker and easier for customers and retailers. It is quick, easy and convenient: cards are immediately issued and enable customers to instantaneously “tap and pay” – even for the smallest amounts. Transactions take a few seconds and go directly into the retailer’s account. The success is undisputable: more than 135 000 cards are now in circulation, for on average 11 000 transactions/day.
ALW has also partnered with Amul, another government owned dairy company, to deploy the “Amul Milk Card”. As for the next steps, ALW is looking into cashless payment systems in transportation – another way of making daily life easier for Indian people.