Innoviti tries to do a Google Maps in Digital Payments - Innoviti

Innoviti tries to do a Google Maps in Digital Payments

31 July 2017

A platform that helps retailers reduce failed transaction while keeping cost down, Innoviti is all set for India’s digital payments revolution, writes Alnoor Peermohammed.

Rajeev Agrawal likes to think of Innoviti, the fintech firm he founded in 2002, as the Google Maps for the retail payments industry. “In Google Maps, if you are going from place A to place B, the map tells you there’s traffic here so take a different route. We started doing this with transactions by looking at the history of how they travel through our network and then suggesting the best route”, says Agrawal.

Today, Innoviti processes one-fifth of all digital payments made at large retails stores, but it has morphed and changed many times in its 15-year history. In its latest avatar, Innoviti is a venture-backed fintech firm that helps remove inefficiencies in making payments. It has so far raised close to $25 million as it also looks to tie in newer payment methods such as UPI, Bharat QR and even digital wallets into the age-old point-of-sale (PoS) terminals.


Innoviti’s shift to a product company came when Reliance Retail, one of the largest retailers in the country, approached it in 2008 to build a solution that would track payments made at its stores. Agrawal jumped at the opportunity and in no time, was catering to most of the country’s largest retailers, Reliance, Titan and the Future Group.

“The product was initially targeted at large organized retail customers, and that was the time that organised retail was just kicking off in India. Anybody who was looking at managing their payments better by reducing costs, Improving the customer experience and receiving insights was our customer,” says Agrawal.

With software that tied into the ERP systems of large retailers, Innoviti flourished. The company was even profitable as it moved to tap more customers as India’s organised retail sector grew. But in 2015, when e-commerce began to change the landscape, Agrawal knew he needed to pivot his company once again.

The day was for a solution to improve the reliability of digital transactions and Innoviti launched its platform uniPAY that would transfer money through the best route based on data it had collected. Realising that this would require investments, Innoviti raised its first round of $5 million, led by Infosys founder Narayana Murthy’s Catamaran Ventures. Agrawal says the biggest validator for the technology Innoviti has built happened during demonetization. While digital payments on all networks spiked, so did failures due to lack of bandwidth. The industry standard for successful transactions was just a little higher than 80%, Innoviti was able to manage a transaction success rate of 96%.


The opportunity for digital payments in India is almost limitless. With only a fraction of retail payments being made digitally today, Innoviti believes the use for its service has only begun. Moreover, while the value of transactions made at large retailers remains high, Innoviti has moved to serve smaller retailers in search of greater volumes.

Despite processing over Rs. 15,000 crores in transactions annually and installing 30,000 POS terminals across the country, Agrawal believes Innoviti is only scratching the surface. “There is space for 1- more Innovitis before we even have to start worrying about competition,” he says.

While demonetisation provided a much-needed shot in the arm for India’s digital payments industry, GST will be a bigger game changer. Smaller merchants who often collected payments in cash to evade the taxman will now have no option to hide this income. This will level the playing field between cash and digital payments. “There will be significant growth driven by three things: Retail continues to grow in India, consumers will continue to spend more as disposable incomes go up, and more consumers will pay digitally. These vectors will keep growing and Innoviti benefits from all three,” says Vishal Gupta, Managing Director of Bessemer Venture Partners, which has invested in Innoviti.

The higher the volume of transactions, the higher the revenue for Innoviti. In the six large metros and with retailers who have some heft, Innoviti takes a direct cut from the transaction value. In smaller towns, the company chooses to work with banks and other partners on a revenue share model.


In the past year, the government has begun pushing new payment methods such as UPI, Bharat QR Code and Aadhar Pay. Technology giants such as Google, Apple and Samsung are planning an entry into the retail payments space through NFC payments. For Innoviti, providing retailers with access to payments in any of these forms provides a business opportunity.

Expert Take

Digital will make up 30% of retail spending in 7 years – Naveen Surya, Chairman, Payment Council of India

There is a huge opportunity on the acquiring side of the digital payments business and I think it will grow massively moving forward. This is extremely important as well, because if we do not have the acquiring side set, then switching to cashless will not happen. Any company like Innoviti is in a low-margins payment business, so they have to find ways to utilize the payment information to grow into other things such as lending. But payments is the funnel that then opens up into all these other financial services. It is only a matter of time before lending based on the acquiring data becomes an integrated service. If you talk about the payments industry, there’s an estimated $2trillion worth of retail spending happening, of which approximately 10% is digital. If we go back 10 years, digital payments contributed to just 3%. If we take the same rate of growth, it is possible that digital will make up 30% of retail spending in the next 5-7 years, but with the way things are going, that could hit 50% as

Fact Box

Year of incorporation: 2002
Are of business: Retail payments platform
Founder: Rajeev Agrawal
Funding: $5Mn in Series A and $18Mn in Series B
Investors: Bessemer Venture Partners, Catamaran Ventures, SBI-FMO Fund
USP: Reducing failure while lowering the cost of transacting digitally

Download Brochure

    Credit card EMI uses your credit card limit to convert your purchase into installments. Suppose you make a purchase for Rs. 9,000 on your credit card and while buying select the credit card EMI option with a tenure of 3 months, then the bank instantly converts your purchase to three installments of Rs. 3,000. In the next credit card cycle, instead of paying Rs. 9000, you will need to pay only Rs. 3,000, and continue paying this for 3 months. A nominal interest or processing fee may be charged depending upon the various schemes running at the merchant.

    If you don't own a credit card and would still prefer paying in instalments, you can use your Debit card to make select purchases on EMI.  Your debit card bank may have qualified you, you can check the bank on the same by sending the following SME message to your bank:


    HDFC (Min value is 5 K)

    SMS MYHDFC to 5676712 from your

    Bank registered mobile number, or

    To check your pre-approved eligible limit

    give a missed call to 9643 22 22 22


    AXIS (Min value is 5 K)

    SMS DCEMI<Space>XXXX (last 4 digits

    of your debit card number) to 5616100


    Federal (Min value is 5 K)

    DC<space>EMI to 5676762 / 9008915353

    or missed call to 7812900900


    Kotak (Min value is 8K)

    SMS CDL<space><last 4 digits of your

    Debit Card No> to 5676788


    ICICI (Min value is 5 K)

    SMS DCEMI<space><last 4 digits of

    Debit Card number> to 5676766


    While making the payment, notify the store executive to swipe your debit card transaction in the EMI mode and select a preferred tenure. The transaction will get approved on your bank as per your qualification and converted into EMI for the number of months selected during the transaction.

    Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is like using a credit card or getting a loan and repaying in EMI. The only difference being that it is for an ultra-short duration of 15 days to 60 days.

    Merchant will get the money the next working day from the bank.

    Interest costs depend from case to case. For example, in: Zero cost EMI - Customer doesn't pay the interest cost Bank EMI - Customer pays 12 to 15% interest cost depending upon the bank. Buy now pay later scheme (15 days) - Customer pays around 1.16% interest, again depending upon the banks. Buy now pay later (30 days,60 days and 90 days) - Customer pays 2.33%, again depending upon the banks.

    Processing fee is the amount charged by a credit/ debit card issuer to process your customers loan booking. For example, HDFC Bank charges Rs. 199 as processing fee for both CC and DC EMIs.

    IMEI validation is done by entering the IMEI number into the Innoviti terminal which then gets validated by the brand for an authentic product being sold.

    IMEI validation is done for Brand EMI transactions.

    The offers could be on any brand, product, bank card, being offered on any specific dates or any specific SKUs

    SKU promotions start with the cashier scanning SKU, IMEI/ Serial number from the billing POS and entering the amount in the billing POS and then transacting under the "Brand EMI" tender mode.

    As SKU comes directly from the billing POS via scan, it reduces the errors and manual effort of selection to re-enter/select again from the EDC.

    Joint promotions are offers provided to consumers in which two or more parties are bearing the cost of the offer. It is a highly efficient mechanism to reduce the cost of marketing. Small merchants can benefit by getting their name associated with large banks and brands.

    Innoviti has used payments technology in unconventional ways to bring merchants, banks, and brands together and enable them to run joint promotions for their common consumers.
    Innoviti’s uniPAY Next and GENIE products can run instant cashbacks, EMI, upgrade offers and others with two or more parties bearing the cost of it.

    The MDR, or Merchant Discount Rate, is a fee paid by the merchant to its bank for accepting payments card payments. This is typically calculated as a percentage of the transaction value undertaken through credit/ debit cards.

    Merchants can negotiate with banks for better MDR rates. With greater scale, merchants enjoy better negotiation power. You can also reduce MDR using Innoviti’s sophisticated multi-bank routing technology in uniPAY Next.

    Innoviti's uniPAYNEXT multi-bank routing technology automatically routes every card swipe to the bank that will charge the lowest MDR for it.

    Innoviti’s uniPAYNext technology uses an advanced #LookAhead technology to instantly scan the store and bank networks and identifies the best route from the store to the bank to improve transaction reliability. It optimizes speed, cost & reliability based on merchant pre-set rules to select the bank.

    Mismatches between a merchant's daily sales bank card settlements creates unnecessary manual reconciliation work. Innoviti's uniPAYNEXT technology digitally adds the approval code and approving bank name to the billing system enabling automatic reconciliation.

    The reports can be seen on SPARCS, uniPAYNEXT's reporting portal. This comprises of some very useful information like daily settlement receivables from each acquiring bank, store sales by different card issuers or regions or payment tender modes opening new possibilities for joint marketing programmes.

    UPI stands for Unified Payment Interface (UPI), a technology created by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It allows transfer of money from one bank account to another instantly via one's mobile phone. Innoviti supports UPI payment via any UPI app such as Paytm, GPay, WhatsApp Pay, PhonePe through its terminals. To know more, click here.

    You need a Sodexo card issued by your employer. You can use your Sodexo card to pay for your food & grocery purchase on any Innoviti terminal in your F&G store. To know more, click here.

    Innoviti supports all Visa, Master, Rupay cards, UPI, Sodexo, other meal cards, EMI, Buy Now Pay Later Plans and loyalty point redemption through debit cards of banks supported by Loyalty Rewardz.

    How can I get my shop name added to Innoviti’s advertisements on Google?
    Once you sign-up with Innoviti and your GENIE app is installed, your name will automatically get added to the advertisements. It takes between 4 to 5 days for the name to start appearing.
    How can I get my shop name added to Innoviti’s advertisements in banks?
    Once you sign-up with Innoviti and your GENIE app is installed, your name will automatically get added to the advertisements. It takes between 4 to 5 days for the name to start appearing.
    How does GENIE coupon work? On which banks is it applicable?
    GENIE coupon is an instant discount offered by Innoviti to every consumer whose payment is done on Innoviti’s mobile app by the merchant. Customers need to enter their mobile number in the app, they will instantly receive an OTP through SMS/ WhatsApp, entry of this OTP applies the surprise instant discount on the purchase value immediately.
    Example: If your purchase value was Rs. 10,000, and the coupon value is Rs. 500, then your charge-slip will be approved for Rs. 9,500. You save instantly. The merchant gets the full money.
    It is applicable to credit/ debit card holders of 100+ banks in India.
    Does wallet work on refurbished products?
    Yes. GENIE’s EMI wallet can be used to provide zero-cost EMI on refurbished, second- hand and upgrade plans.
    How can I get access to customers qualified for credit by banks?
    Banks work with aggregators to provide access to these customers. Innoviti is a leading aggregator which can provide you with a terminal that will connect to the bank and provide you access to these cardholders.
    In addition, Innoviti in coordination with the bank will promote your store to all the bank’s customers who are pre-qualified.

    Brand EMIs are joint promotion schemes used by merchants, banks, and brands to incentivize a consumer to buy a higher end-product than what they can afford. The purchase is converted into EMI instantly by the bank, with the interest cost being borne by the product brand.

    Innoviti has partnered with 100+ brands including Apple, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo to extend 1000s of such schemes.

    You need to be pre-qualified by your credit, debit card bank to be eligible for Brand EMI. The bank will typically look at your credit card and savings account history to qualify you.

    Innoviti’s technology instantly checks with the bank if you are qualified to approve your Brand EMI transaction.

    Does wallet work on unbranded products?
    Yes. GENIE’s EMI wallet can be used to provide zero-cost EMI on any unbranded electronics product like headphones, power banks, speakers, etc.
    How does BEAM work?
    BEAM (Brand EMI Acceleration Mission) offer gives merchants the option to get sponsored by one of the leading mobile brands that they represent. Innoviti has tie-ups with brands like Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi. Using BEAM, merchants get 1% extra margins on the sponsored brands and 0.5% extra margins on the rest of the brands