Abhinav Sinha, Co-Founder, Eko India Financial Services Pvt. Ltd.

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Over 90 percent of India’s population or 1.2 billion work force are employed in the informal sector; most of these individuals receive their salary in cash. Layers of subcontracting – “middlemen” – through which much of the informal sector gains employment make it difficult to convert their salary from cash to electronic payment. While nearly all of these cash earners’ retail transactions continue to take place in cash, over 80 percent of all retail transactions – amounting to over US$800 billion – in India today take place in cash. Cash-to-Digital: online transaction for ‘cash’ customers Eko, using its patented technology, caters largely to low and moderate-income customers who earn between US$150 and $800 per month in cash. Eko enables these individuals to use a cash-in point / merchant and a smart phone to convert cash to digital and make payment for 11 different services provisioned by 23 service provider partners. These services include money remittance – Eko’s hook transaction and currently the dominant service in terms of total transaction value – utility bill payments, recharge for prepaid telephony and prepaid television, cross-border transfers from India-to-Nepal, health and auto insurance, online shopping, Aadhar enabled payment services and MSME lending. Eko’s network extends beyond 100k merchants across 150 Indian cities, serving a registered customer base in excess of 40 million – growing today at a pace of 5k new merchants and over a million new customers each month. Eko processes over US$230 million in transactions per month, a figure that has been growing by 5 percent each month since August 2015 when Eko went live with its Prepaid Payment Instrument (PPI) license issued by the Reserve Bank of India. With this base business, Eko has created India’s largest cash-to-digital network and began generating profit in December 2017. On a monthly basis, the company collects approximately US$3.5 million in customer fees and from this pays the channel partner US$2.8 million for cash
collection, handling and related risks.

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