It has been a long time coming. Six years, to be exact, but one of India’s largest and most successful non-bank lenders finally got its hands on the long-awaited wallets licence. In May this year, India’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India, allowed Bajaj Finance Ltd—which has a mammoth loan book of Rs 1,52,000 crore ($20.6 billion)—to operate a prepaid payments instrument (PPI).

With the licence, Bajaj has all the elements needed to launch its omnichannel omnichannel omnichannel A uniform approach to both online and offline sales to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience financial services app, Bajaj Pay. The app is geared to support multiple payment modes, from digital wallets and real-time digital payments to its co-branded credit card and its own payments offering, Bajaj EMI cards. Ideally, a customer would be able to make a purchase and use whichever payment instrument she prefers during checkout, including credit.

Bajaj is expected to launch the payments app by this month. Even though it’s about five years late to the payments party, Bajaj gets to reap a bunch of late-mover advantages sowed by its predecessors.

The ecosystem not only has a thriving, readymade network of merchants, but RBI’s wallet rules have also turned favourable. Unlike payments companies such as Paytm* and PhonePe—which had to painstakingly build their network of over 50 million-plus users—Bajaj’s payment arm already has a neat 48.6 million customers to tap. And thanks to its acquisition of a 12.6% stake stake Economic Times Bajaj Finance to acquire 12.6% in MobiKwik Read more at: Read more in and an eventual partnership with digital wallet MobiKwik, Bajaj has millions of customers already familiar with using their EMI cards in tandem with the wallet.

Despite these advantages, Bajaj Finance has no intention of going head to head with other payment apps. The company’s management expressly told analysts that it is not looking at playing in a field where the “big elephants are fighting”. Its plan with payments is not so much user growth and payments dominance as much as customer engagement.

Since 2016, Bajaj has been religiously adding about one to two million new customers every quarter. This is largely due to its most well-known line of business—no-cost credit solutions for consumer durable purchases. It then cross-sells other loan products such as vehicle loans, personal loans, and mortgage loans to these customers. Its cross-sell franchise has about 27 million customers, according to 2021 company reports.

“We have enough customers. We are very clear that sometime in the near future we will be a 100 million customers company given the distribution and product portfolio,” its managing director Rajeev Jain told analysts over a conference call in April, 2021.


Arundhati Ramanathan

Arundhati is Bengaluru-based. She is interested in how people use money in the digital age and how new economies will take shape based on that interaction. She has spent over 10 years reporting and writing on various subjects. Previous stints were at Mint, Outlook Business and Reuters.

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