Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Battle for the sandbox, India version

Andy Mukherjee of Bloomberg reports on the crypto  market in India. This is the typical battle between peer to peer vs writing a letter to central bank. My read is that central bank model is already lost.

On one side is a bank-dominated, card-based infrastructure that can't handle peer-to-peer payments and works at just one-tenth of the country's estimated 13 million retailers. On the other is a mobile-based architecture hobbled by inadequate smartphone penetration (300 million, in a population of 1.2 billion), patchy data quality in towns and villages, and a strange dominance of players that boast neither strong online communities of their own nor a compelling e-commerce presence. In short, they're nothing like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc.What's powering these companies instead is a stroke of good luck. The biggest is Paytm, a mobile wallet with 165 million users. Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma couldn't hide his glee when customers topped up their balances by almost 1,000 percent right after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's cash ban.

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