Category Archives: Players

India Market Status – correction of preconceptions

Hello all,

I thought I would start to go deep on certain markets in Asia and what is the state of eCommerce in those. India first.


India is different and is a huge opportunity. To be captured, none of the localisation effort should be overlooked.

First correction of preconception: India’s economy is small but growing fast

Of course, one of the main interesting market as it s massively growing is India. It is said that India is now the 4th economy in the world since 2010. Bigger than Germany, UK, France and Russia. I think this is a first perception change that is needed. India (and other BRIC countries for that matter) are NOT developing countries anymore. Sure there are so big that they are all countries with multiple pace of developments and not everyone is lucky to enjoy the growth but as the average of the country, these are MASSIVE economies and will now grow stronger and bigger over time.

Source: Wikipedia quoting IMF, WorldBank and CIA Factbook

Second correction of preconception: eCommerce in India is non-existent

Depending on sources, eCommerce is to be between $3.5B and  $10B in India in 2011. There is more than 112M online users (which would be the 3rd online population by number) and 10M e-shoppers

More importantly, the growth rates are astounding; between 50% and 90% CAGR depending on sources. The domestic market is the biggest part of the growth and count for 75% of it for now.

Third correction of preconception: It is all import/export. Nothing is domestic. And there is no important players.

The market is still massively Travel lead. As per my own eCommerce Market Maturity Strategy, India’s Travel category has already and massively moved online, Retail (consumer electronics and Apparel) are coming next but haven’t yet taken off. It is said that 20% of the spend is retail.

Now if we have a look at who is driving those main categories, Transport and mainly Railways (domestic almost 100%) accounts for the biggest share and accounts for 40% of eCommerce alone. The rest is taken by Airlines (local Airlines like AirIndia, JetAirways and other low costs) and local OTA (Online Travel Agent) like Yatra/Yaatra, makemytrip are taking the majority of the shares.

Under the Apparel category, we haven’t seen the emergence of local big players yet and most of it is buying to “mature markets” like the US and UK. This is yet to come but will definitely come soon.

On Consumer Electronics and Books, Amazon is said to ship one fully loaded 747 plane a week of their products to India and is considering entering the market directly next year. A lot of local copycats exists like Flipkart and they are getting impressive traction.

Logo of

Image via Wikipedia

Fourth and last correction or preconception: Indians can be served with Western standards of service quality in English and be offered with Credit Card payments only

Think 3 main things if you want to serve the India market:

1) Indians all expect an outstanding Customer Service Level, usually Local and free Customer Service numbers that speak their local language is generally offered by serious local players.

2) English is spoken by “only” 100M Indians. The overlap between these 100M and the current online population is massive but if you consider that the Mobile population is HUGE and have passed 500M mobile phones, the India government is even trying to incentivise usage, we will not be able to count on English for too long and serving languages in India can be somewhat a nightmare with 22 recognised official languages and many other thousands spoken in rural areas so we have to be ready to show a certain level of commitment.

ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଭାରତ ମାନଚିତ୍ର English: Map of India in O...

Image via Wikipedia

3) Payment is different in India, Credit Card penetration is still very low, Bank and Debit Cards penetration is bigger but still not mainstream. People get offered Cash On Delivery ways to pay for online purchase in the main cities and the society is still very cashed based so we will need to accommodate new and different payment methods. A lot of operators would  also want a piece of the pie and all try to run Mobile Money programs there.


David Pardo

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Near Field Communication (NFC) wallets – Market Status

Hello all,

This post will be about NFC wallets and usage for payments at Point Of Sale. Let’s observe announcements made by each of the payment players.


Image representing Scott Thompson as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

PayPal has announced that NFC wasn’t a focus for them first and as Scott Thompson has put it NFC should have stand for “Not For Commerce”. Playing their own strengths and be present mostly remote payments and have no presence at Point Of Sale, it makes sense for the growing giant to say so. They then came back on their own opinion saying that they would consider NFC and will keep an eye out for any development in that space. Of course for a payment player to say that they would ignore 80% of current payments doesn’t make sense and maybe PayPal has realised that they had to play where  the majority of the payments happened and with the current tools used if they wanted a real share of that huge business.


Square’s model is obviously to re-create the Point Of Sale ecosystem as they are effectively trying to create Point Of Sale out of all mobile phones and other devices. So again it makes perfect sense for them to say they don’t want NFC.


Visa’s main announcement today was about a trial that they are doing in France with Credit Agricole. For doing so, they have by-past the usual partner that is Telco with having a clever piece of Hardware (phone case in that instance) to allow to introduce the chip close enough to the phone to process payments.

Visa will also launch their eCommerce and mCommerce wallet which will probably have an NFC component to it.


Clearly the biggest and strongest player in that field so far. MasterCard has launched a TON of beta and tests around the world (watch Ann Cairns video) – always playing with all partners when they are relevant (manufacturers, Telcos, Banks, etc)

UK with Barclays and Orange

Latin America with Telefonica

Turkey with Turkcel

MasterCard logo used on cards 1990 to present.

Image via Wikipedia

Dubai with RIM (BlackBerry) and Etisalat

US with Google, Citi and FirstData

Korea with Samsung banks and card issuers

Personally, I think the way to NFC will be to try, fail, iterate and make improvements before winning and I particularly like the approach of MasterCard right now. They play with everyone and the they play offense on a field that no one will monetise for a long time. Well played.

David Pardo

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Apple in payments

Hello all,

I am not sure how many have seen this but I think it’s worth noting that Apple has made their first (baby) steps towards payments.

Apple Store

Image via Wikipedia

They will now offer a payment service on iPhone, only in Apple Store to scan a barcode and pay for the item on the spot. It overs some “specifically selected accessories” too.

Cautious first step that will make many tremble. Nice article here:


David Pardo



Another interesting article about Apple in payments is this one:

A Point of view that Apple will not play in NFC but will try to enforce a “pay with iTunes account” even for non Apple merchants. Clearly a long stretch in my mind but if Apple comes up with a stellar user experience it may happen.

Sincerely again

David Pardo


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The “Offers” offering of payment companies

Hello all,

Couple reflection and a blog post I wanted to write for a long time.

All payment companies are trying to differentiate their product offering and of course a big and nice way to do this amongst consumer is through Marketing and Offers.

Now the game has intensified significantly as everyone thinks of the future potential geo-targeted, demographic , some even say tailored offers that retailers would want to push to their consumers. Some companies are going their own ways and a lot of startup companies have been created in the past couple months to try to fulfil that holy grail. Payment companies are also trying to get in the game and it’s pretty obvious that those 2 types of services will get closer together over time:

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 02:  The Groupon logo is di...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Player number 1 (no special order here): Groupon and Square– Yes you weren’t expected this one but as Groupon may (or may not) do its IPO and get a LOT of cash, some rumors are that the company is in discussions with Square. In effect you could foresee that the “daily deals” that Groupon offers could transform the ecosystem with some clever geo-targeting and use of consumer data they do not have. Imagine utilising the Sales Force of Groupon (around 2000 people worldwide now) to source any kind of deal that would be highly targeted to users to be pushed through notifications and coupons given at Point of Checkout or Point of Sale through Square apps. Cool? It would be an interesting development for sure.

Visa just announced that they partnered, JointVentured and acquired a piece (?!) of Monetise. Monetise is a cool service that offers…well offers as well as an enhanced experience through their apps and APIs – they also offer, mobile services for online banking and a mobile wallet. I am not sure how the 2 latter would be used by Visa as they are building their own solutions but we ll see. Article here.

PayPal is talking a lot of offers and of course at this stage, they haven’t got that much traction as they are missing the big and powerful merchant that can have good offers

Image representing PayPal as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

and the fact that their traditional base of merchants is usually small and don’t have bandwidth to put together the same. That doesn’t stop them from talking about it and I d be surprised if they wouldn’t announce couple exciting developments either as new products imbedded in their Proximity payment products or through partnerships. After all they are part of eBay inc who is the biggest eCommerce site in the world, owns Milo (local based offering only in the US) and RedLaser. Again here, the appetite is here and we know for sure that they ll play in that space but we haven’t seen any product yet. As for the proximity payment announcements, is PayPal getting good at “just producing videos?”

And last but not least, American Express. Now I personally like what I am seeing there. through their wallet launched earlier this year, Serve, they now have the potentially play in many use cases, proximity based payments as well as remote based ones (announced through the new API they are launching)which is not their traditional way of doing business. But more importantly, AMEX is getting close to so many great players in the eCommerce and mCommerce and those strategic alignments will certainly pay back in time. Facebook. Video Games and Digital Goods. What’s next?


David Pardo

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Facebook Credits test to be spent outside of Facebook

Hello all,

Quick post to introduce this. I hope that everyone sees it:

Facebook inventing their own Currency. Maybe.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Based on what we ve seen before from the strategic alignment with eBay and PayPal, I suspect that it’s probably something in the pipe. Spend your Facebook Credit to buy real items on eBay or with PayPal would give Facebook Credits such an edge and a credibility it doesn’t have.


David Pardo

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The XCommerce event

Hello all,

Long time away from the blogging keyboard. I guess I needed the time to diggest the past couple weeks.

This post will be solely about the X.Commerce event that eBay Inc; ie eBay, PayPal and Magento have hosted couple of weeks back.

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Let me call out what I thought about all of this.

First what is this?

eBay, Magento and PayPal had APIs and separate developper focus in each companies. eBay Inc called out Matthew Mengerick to put all those Business Units together to 1) find synergies between them 2) try to find a way to montetize another group of customers that a shopping aggregator like eBay, a payment platform like PayPal and a SMB full solution suite like Magento should be interesting in serving: the 3rd party developpers.

The announcements

Some of them were interesting:

Facebook being part of the announcement gave some grounds to the platform and although I watched the video (like another 97 unfortunate other viewers – anti-climax as an impact if you were eBay – 1:11:00 if you want to be the 98th), I can’t really say I understood what the deal was about. I am guessing some kind of social commerce products. Those 2 giants getting together to crack the holy grail gives me good hopes that they would do it and do it well but the evil will be in the details. Knowing how Facebook has that much data about users and how eBay and PayPal has that much shopping data. You do the math but I definitely see huge potential.

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

– The rest is to re-announce that basically they brought all companies strengths and synergies together. APIs did exist but putting them altogether under the same stack will unleash some new potential usage or so it seems. Of course that is downplaying it a lot as I think the products look pretty cool. My personal favourite would be Magento as I knew it less well, and as they will use this platform APIs and current product to be even a more complete SMB solution as before. Publish your ads to Google AdWords, Facebook and eBay would give any kind of significant traffic to any SMBs  that would go online. I would hope that they can get the fulfilment ramp up as easily as they are helping with Marketing.

The Bad side of things

To be evil I d say it is sad for a company their stage to insist so much on powering 3rd party developers. Does that mean that anyone inside the company can’t innovate anymore? Certainly not but if I was one of the bright one inside and had the idea, I d probably want to go out and build it for me now that I have all the tools at my fingertips.

eBay Inc is still a hugely innovative company, don’t get me wrong. The question is, would you use their tools and integrations? Probably to find some scale before you can build some of it yourself.

Cracking SMBs? Definitely. Cracking the next big thing. Probably not.


David Pardo

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Google vs eBay payment strategy

Hello all,

Blogging through more competitive analysis may be required at this stage as, as always, an important week has happened and an important week will take place next week.

My scope today is to look at Google and eBay Inc. positioning with regards to payments.

Google as the innovative, disruptive player (refreshing to see them as this position!) has managed to produce a working wallet in less than 10 months. Now for people who are not in the industry this would be rather slow so let me try to describe the achievement: Google managed to get around a table and in a common agreement, a Telco (Sprint), a Bank (Citi), a Payment provider (MasterCard), an acquirer (FirstData) and a bunch of hardware partners (veriFone and others). Not that impressive? OK how about the fact that any prediction around a working NFC prototype that anyone could venture in the industry was around 2014 at the fastest. The reasons? “the consumers don’t have the hardware”, “the telcos are not ready”, “the banks don’t understand” and “it’s very unlikely that all those people would work together to make something possible”. Well Google did it. And as not being a traditional payment provider, it s a pretty great achievement.
Now of course this is limited, how many people have an Android phone on Spring, a Citi/MasterCard card and lives in the cities where this is available…probably not that many but the point at this stage is certainly not volume.
The positioning of this product is also interesting. It s an NFC based wallet. Meaning that it would be used in a cloud for eCommerce as well as for Point Of Sale usage. The first kind that gather the two experiences in a same application and with a similar user experience.
If we also consider that Google as two other payment based assets in Google Checkout and of course their Android Market for apps, we could certainly see an evolving and growing ecosystem of payments through Google products that can certainly be ground breaking.
Google’s position is also to never ignore or compete when they can partner. They ve been pretty scary trying to bring their innovation in a lot of areas and payments being one that get traction internally would probably be a good thing but Google will always go with other existing players and that is probably a smart move at the moment.
Now beyond the US and the mature markets, Google is very prevalent into the development of SMBs and is usually the first technology partner of SMBs in Asia for their development online. Consumers know Google through Search and Gmail but nothing remotely close to anything payment related. Will they care? Will they adopt? I would argue that it will be down to the experience that Google will be able (or not) to provide as a value differentiator to both consumers and merchants and they are usually pretty good at that.

PayPal as the player already in the field for a while. The ecosystem that PayPal created for the past 10 years is impressive; moving from P2P payments on Palm pilots, to eBay payments, to off eBay and eCommerce payments, to Mobile use cases and mCommerce. The natural digital payment industry moved through those transitions at the same time as PayPal did, or is it that PayPal facilitated it? What is next? The industry sees the convergence between all devices usage and use cases, people browsing the web on their mobile will use their existing methods of payments offline and at POS. Some others will browse and shop at stores, will go compare prices online by scanning a barcode and then buy and pay through their mobile phone. And PayPal has to find a way to make all these work. The mCommerce scenario and remote payment is something that they understand and almost entirely own today but would they be able to bridge to other technologies so that they can cover all new and emerging use cases? At this stage, we do have a clear indication of their strategy through their video. It is true it is no live product yet but I suspect their first prototypes will probably be out in the announcements during the Innovate conference next week.
Mobile is also seen as a key component of their valuation by Wall Street.
PayPal also realises that they can’t necessarily win by themselves and will seek strategic partners all across their developments, with banks (e.g. DBS in Singapore), other payment providers (e.g. CUP in China), Facebook to come next week. This will probably push their adoption, no matter what the announce next week and is a good and natural fit for the two companies; PayPal usually having issues on consumer adoption and retention and the main strategic problem for Facebook being monetisation of their huge existing base.

At the end of the day, the winner will get to define a new payment standardthat will be the new way to pay online, offline and that is something that all players are excited about.
I ll come back next week and give you my impression on the events.


David Pardo

Users are not ready for this. Which key player will win?

Hello all,

A quick post to introduce two important articles and one video that resumes well the slow or conservative point of view to this “revolution”.

Today the market is not ready for the revolution both from a consumer and a merchant side:

The second one is to discuss what is usually forgotten into that revolution – payments is not really painful as it is but this revolution will need to bring a whole set of value added services (Offers, Coupons, what else?) to the ecosystem to make a real dent into the current modus operandi:

Again, I like the approach here. You ll here it more and more, consumers and merchants are not ready for this. Even the professionals are saying it. What they are also saying is that they are all working to make this happen and make happen this faster in their own way using their own strengths.

List of questions and random thoughts from me:

– Will PayPal be right at assuming that NFC will be too slow to deploy and that merchants will try to embrace added value services experiences through players like themselves?

– Will the giants that are Visa, MasterCard and others be able to digitalise fast enough their offline offering?

– Will hardware deployment be the determinant limiting factor?

– Can we look at Google, Facebook, Apple and other non traditional payment players to be completely disruptive into their approach and leverage their data at payments to provide the best added value services both for merchants and consumers?

All I can say is it does look like a race and a pretty bloody one too.

Another thought is that I think that people still try to ameliorate a system that in the US and other mature markets works pretty well already. But what about emerging markets? What about the billions of people who are still un-banked/un-carded and don’t have access to that vast world of choice, depth and breath of products that mature markets do. Maybe the future winner will be the one(s) that will bring those two worlds together.

Happy to talk about it, let me know,


David Pardo