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February 29, 2020

Innovative “Soundbox” from Paytm

I am fascinated by new products. Yes, it is true that 80% of new products are not new and are at best ‘new wine in an old bottle’. They are new, improved versions to induce to the jaded buyer to rebuy the products. At best it is a weak appeal to the customers to get excited again akin to a sixty-year-old Indian hero prancing around in a ridiculous wig and with fluorescent clothes with a young lass who would be in his granddaughter age! 

But some products are new, and they are very much needed. One such product that caught my eye is the “Sound Box” from Paytm. It is a boon for the harried retailers, who are becoming more and more dependent on online payments and that through the omnipresent Paytm App. 

I watch with great astonishment when the twenty-somethings pay six rupees for their cup of tea using Paytm app. What would happen if the internet or Paytm suffer an outage? I am sure that the Indian economy will take a hit on Sensex fearing a massive spread of the Coronavirus causing havoc on world markets. 

Paytm synonymous with digital transactions in India. The app rose to popularity during the demonetisation phase in 2016. When a customer is trying to pay via his smartphone, there is a long, elaborate conversation with the retailer to share the QR code which the customer then scans and then wait till the payment is confirmed and the retailer gets a message. The SMS often doesn’t come instantly, and there’s an awkward silence till the time the SMS comes in.  

Both the customer and the retailer are impatient. In some cases, the customers claim that the payment is made and walk away. The retailer is hard-pressed to balance his concentration between tracking the digital payments and in serving his other customers. 

Paytm is looking to smoothen the payment process with a new smart device the ‘Soundbox’, It has a speaker with a SIM card slot attached that will act as a voice-activated POS (point-of-sale) machine for the retailer. The Soundbox will alert the retailer the payment is complete, instead of the retailer having to wait for an SMS on their smartphone. 

The Soundbox loudly announces the amount paid, thus relieving the retailer of the stress of tracking SMSes. A user will still have to scan the QR code on this device to make the payment. With the Soundbox, the retailers do not require another smartphone to accept Paytm transactions. 

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