The creator of Google Wallet is making a big bet on India via his 4-year old startup

The creator of Google Wallet is making a big bet on India via his 4-year old startup
Business Insider
  • Silicon Valley-based Poynt is looking to launch its device in India this year.
  • The process for permissions and certification is underway, Bedier told Business Insider in an exclusive interview.
  • 42-year old Osama Bedier’s $450 million startup is backed by Matrix Partners and Google Ventures among other marquee investors.
Osama Bedier, who created Google Wallet, set up his payments startup, Poynt, four years ago. In 2019, India will be the first Asian country where Poynt rolls out its payments product that Bedier likes to describe as the ‘Android’ for digital payments.

Doesn’t India have enough players into digital payments already?

The 42-year old Bedier-- also a Paypal veteran-- told Business Insider, in an exclusive interview, that he is not targeting consumers. Therefore, not looking to compete with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio or Alibaba-backed Paytm or even credit/debit cards.

Poynt will target merchants, shopkeepers and small businesses. It will sell an operating system and a smart device that will enable merchants to accept any form of digital payment, from any service provider.

Here’s an demonstration of how Poynt’s smart terminal works -


So is Poynt looking to sell another expensive device?

Merchants will have to buy a device. But, the primary focus of this $450 million startup from Silicon Valley will be to sell an operating system that will allow merchants to accept any form of digital payment without the hassle of having to use different devices for different customers with different payment preferences.

That’s not all. Bedier sees the device as one that can be a mix of a cash register, a point of sale terminal, and an accounting software. The merchant has a choice to have as many features as required for the business, and these applications can be created by third parties too.

Poynt is looking to launch its product in India this year. The startup is backed by Elavon, Google Ventures, Matrix Partners, National Australia Bank, NYCA Partners, Oak HC/FT Partners, Stanford-StartX Fund, Webb Investment Network. Most recently, the company raised $100 million in November 2018.

Why will India’s penny-wise shopkeepers invest in some expensive operating system and a device?

Bedier’s biggest challenge will be to convince the merchants that this will boost their sales, and he seems prepared for that. “It can’t be a $600 iPad. It’s got to be a cheaper $100-$200 device maximum. Probably, cheap enough to subsidise or to even rent at a very low cost. It’s very important that it’s accessible to merchants of all sizes. Then, the software revenue model is what makes it viable,” he explained.

According to Bedier, “the India issue right now is that they are not very well coordinated. PayTM is pulling in one direction, cards are pulling them in another direction, the UPI (Unified Payment Interface owned by the government) is pulling them in a third direction. Enabling all of them to coexist in a single device makes them compatible.” No matter which service provider the consumer prefers, Poynt’s device can accept them all.

A technology that makes it easier for merchants to accept digital payments is certainly what India needs to increase digital transactions. Over half of all shops in Indian cities do not accept any form of digital payments due to a number of challenges faced by the shop owners. Even Google Pay, which has 25 million monthly active users in India, has only 1.2 million businesses on the platform.

In this challenge, Bedier saw an opportunity. India will be the seventh country, and the first one in Asia, where Poynt will sell its product. It is already a player in US, Canada, UK, Brazil, Ireland, and Italy.

How will the Indian small business owner respond to Bedier’s proposition? That is a question that will be answered later this year and next.