Every startup hero needs a villain. For payments companies, that villain was cash. But in the tumultuous digital payments journey, those like India’s PhonePe are now seeing cash as an unlikely ally.
In January this year, Walmart-owned PhonePe doffed its hat to cash. It said PhonePe users can now digitally transfer money to any neighbourhood store that accepts payments through the app in return for cash. That feature turned mom-and-pop stores into ATMs for small-ticket withdrawals in one stroke; some one million of them across 400 cities in just a month in a country that has only about 232,000 ATMs.