Since the Prime Minister's demonetisation announcement on 8 November, online wallet companies have been urging people to go cashless and use their services. Use of e-wallets has grown exponentially and transaction and traffic figures have shot up. But many people are still facing problems in finding retail shops and outlets that accept e-wallet payments.
Many outlets accepting these payments are new to the e-wallet ecosystem and don't know how to handle the technology. Another major barrier to the greater usage of e-wallets is that they work on smartphones. Many day-to-day service providers such as the vegetable seller or the domestic help have feature phones and therefore cannot use e-wallets. Now, a startup called Serv'd is trying to remove the smartphone barrier in the use of e-wallets.
The startup wants contractual service providers such as maids to be paid digitally so that the money goes directly to their bank accounts. And, even if the maid owns a feature phone and not a smartphone, she can receive the money without any hassle.
Jatin Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of Serv'd, is a serial entrepreneur. He spoke with HuffPost India about his project.
"In India, a lot of working people face problem in managing finances for the service providers like maid, milkman and more," he says. "And especially in times like this when there is a cash crunch, a startup like ours can fill in a lot of gaps. We are not just creating a payment system, we are creating an ecosystem where the service provider can act like a freelancer."
When the consumer downloads the Serv'd app, she can register her maid through a simple process of providing the name, phone number, and Aadhar card. An SMS in Hindi goes to the maid. A contract is drawn through the app which mentions monthly salary, bonus, gifts, leaves and more. Once the contract is finalised, an executive from Serv'd calls up the maid and makes her understand the terms in her vernacular or local language and helps her link her bank account as well.
Speaking about the difficulty of linking the service provider, such as a maid's bank account an animated Agarwal said that this was the part that they had worked on the most.
"We are not here just to make an app," he said. "We offer all kind of help to the service providers. We help them to link their accounts. That's not it. If they don't have an account we help them make one."
Serv'd is also trying to make things easy for consumers. Besides the online payment feature, they can mark absents, rate performance and even find out about other service providers in the area.
For the service providers, it is beneficial to have recorded income. The startup aims to create a legible financial record for them so they can take loans at lower rates instead of going to loan sharks. Serv'd is also interested in providing loans at the lower rates to them down the line.
"We made our app live a few days after the demonetisation announcement," Agarwal says. "We have seen more than 300 downloads of the service provider and consumer app both. And, till now we have drawn more than 100 successful programs. We are starting our pilot program in Pune with going to different bastis to convince the service providers to join the platform."