The Indian market has been tipped as ‘one to watch’ in 2021 as the country begins to open its doors to a legalised framework. However, that’s not to say that entering this lucrative market doesn’t come without its own set of challenges.
By drawing on their previous experience of entering emerging markets, Mikael Lijtenstein – AstroPay CEO – explained why the company is well enabled to adapt to the changing regulatory landscape within the Indian market and how the ‘Indian Challenge’ has helped them build strong relationships with local partners.
SBC: Astropay launched the ‘Indian Challenge’ in September 2020 – what was the thought process behind this?
ML: With the Indian Challenge we wanted to highlight the possibilities AstroPay offers to merchants: a vast experience on dealing with emerging markets all over the world, a community of more than two million users worldwide, and more than 200 payment methods available, which makes it easier for merchants to process deposits and withdrawals.
The offer targeted merchants that did not have the Indian market developed in order to provide them with the opportunity to enter it easily and safely, hand in hand with a payment solution that understands it.
SBC: You have been expanding your presence within the Indian market for many years now. What is it that initially attracted you to this market?
ML: AstroPay started its activity more than 11 years ago in the Latin American market which generated an extensive experience in dealing with emerging markets and India is undoubtedly, one of the biggest growing ones. The growth possibilities in India are endless and so is our desire to provide the population with a payment solution that contemplates their needs.
Millions of users are unbanked and find it really difficult to access digital money. AstroPay provides them with the possibility to purchase a prepaid card or to use the wallet to deposit on thousands of international sites as well as to withdraw money or transfer it. Users can also opt for local currency or US dollars at their convenience.
SBC: And what are your plans for the Indian market in 2021?
ML: Considering the pandemic and its effects on payments, we plan to widely offer users a solution that will broaden their possibilities to access digital payments in a secure and easy mode. Digital wallets are having a starring role in this new scenario and that is why we have developed One Touch, our e-wallet which can be integrated from a simplified integration process through an auto enrolment channel, with little to none IT intervention required on the merchant side.
One Touch provides the possibility of identifying users from a single code as well as to have a closed loop on them diminishing the chances of fraud. Receiving deposits from a simple touch, generates greater fluency and less friction in the interaction between the merchant and its customers providing a seamless experience.
SBC: India has previously been described as quite a lucrative market but comes with its own set of regulatory challenges. How has Astropay overcome these?
ML: We believe regulatory changes are definitely a constant challenge and those who have the ability to adapt to changes are the ones to succeed. The experience gained in the various countries in which we operate, has exercised and developed our capacity to adapt.
SBC: What has been the key driver behind your success within India?
ML: The key has been understanding the market and its regulation, as well as users’ needs in their context. We offer them a tool that has proved useful to deposit and withdraw money easily and that has increased their access to digital money.
SBC: India has been debating the introduction of new sports betting legislation; what might this mean for AstroPay services?
ML: Legislation always brings certainty with it, as well as stability, but this is a debate the country has to define. On our side what we can assure is that we have come to the country to stay, and that we have enough flexibility and capacity to adapt to the challenges that may arise.
SBC: And finally, what would be your biggest piece of advice for those looking at new opportunities in India?
ML: We truly believe in the power or understanding and knowing a market and its culture. India is a country rich in traditions and customs and getting to know them could take a long time. Our suggestion is partner with those that have already walked that road, they will help develop your business easily.