Mastercard announced that it had partnered with PF Worldline and Axis Bank to create a new POS system, SoftPOS, aimed at helping small merchants in India, last week. SoftPOS is a solution to enable businesses to accept contactless payments using their Android phones.

“Given the current pandemic, an option of accepting cashless payments and the speed of transactions are paramount for small merchants across the country. Mastercard has been working towards merchant and consumer education, development of low-cost payments acceptance solutions and last-mile support for merchants to start their digital onboarding. This solution is a great opportunity for us to support micro-merchants in conducting their business smoothly with contactless payments,” Vikas Saraogi, vice president, Head of Acceptance, South Asia, Mastercard said.

The network announced in May that it was extending its financial inclusion initiative, committing to a goal of bringing 50 million micro and small businesses into the ecosystem by 2025. It also said at the time that payment facilitators would be key to helping it reach smaller businesses.

The SoftPOS app will include features beyond accepting payments, including the ability to store and record credit transactions and send monthly invoices to customers, and access to Zoho business management apps. 

“Soft POS will change the landscape of digital payments in India enabling millions of small merchants to accept all digital payments affordably. It has been built keeping in mind the needs and business practices of merchants in India with functionalities like ‘Khaata’ built in. Soft POS is an example of combining technology with strategic vision to bring digital India to life,” said Deepak Chandnani, managing director, Worldline, South Asia and Middle East.

Further supporting the growth of payments acceptance in smaller cities, the Reserve Bank of India also said last week that it is creating what it calls a Payments Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).

According to an article in Bloomberg Quint, the PIDF funds will be used to help subsidize the cost of payments acceptance infrastructure.

“Over the years, payments ecosystem in the country has evolved with a wide range of options such as bank accounts, mobile phones, cards, etc. To provide further fillip to digitisation of payment systems, it is necessary to give impetus to acceptance infrastructure across the country, more so in underserved areas,” the bank said in a release.

The central bank will contribute half of the fund with the other half coming from banks and card networks, it said.