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Zerone Microsystems: Converting Smartphones into Even Smarter Virtual POS Machines

Dr. Jaijit Bhattacharya,Founder & CEO

The digital economy is already living the future, despite the ongoing catastrophe in the physical world caused by, you know what! The pandemic has propelled the consumer ecosystem a world closer to the contactless payment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the street vendors or even the Kharana stores can afford a POS device or a full-fledged payment infrastructure. Challenging this con-viction is Zerone Microsystems Private Limited, a 2009-born technology company, 0cloud based SoftPOS solution, ‘Bharat ZupPOS – a payment acceptance terminal that converts every smartphone into a POS machine and enables debit card, credit card and QR code payments. Over the last decade, the company has carved its niche in the industry by offering state-of–the-art IT solutions and services to hospitality, government, large and small enterprise verticals. CIO Insider engages in an exclusive interaction with the company’s founder, Jaijit Bhattacharya.

In conversation with Jaijit Bhattacharya, Founder and CEO, Zerone Microsystems Private Limited

The fintech industry is on a huge transformation curve, offering a favourable environment for MSMEs and brick & mortar vendors. How is Zerone helping them and where is it positioned in the populous fintech industry?
Although a major chunk of Indians don’t have smartphones to scan QR codes, thanks to the Jan DhanYojna, almost every adult has a debit card in their hand. We have developed a cloud-based, ultra-low cost SoftPOS solution, called Bharat ZupPOS, which allows payment acceptance terminals to be downloaded into a merchant’s smartphone and convert the phone into a POS machine that can accept debit card, credit card and QR code payments, without the need of a physical POS machine. Merchants can also apply for loan by simply clicking a button on the Bharat ZupPOS, which follows a liability-

lite neo-NBFC model for aggregating lenders. This is extremely beneficial for small and middle tier retailers in a trusted ecosystem.

Our payment system was also recently featured in the top 10 list of the ‘National Start-Up Awards 2020’ in the ‘Payments and P2P lending’ category.

What is the challenge that you solve for your customers? What’s Zerone’s USP?
There still is a huge segment of the underserved and often unserved population that has no access to systems, processes and technologies for mediating loans, credit and payments. This is where Bharat ZupPOS comes in, providing small and medium merchants with access to low-cost credit based on their payment data. Instead of relying on credit scores, our system assesses their credit risk profiles based on a proxy date, thus being able to provide them credit and collect repayment at a much lower cost.

We have already filed for five patents on the technology, and have been granted one patent in the US

On the other hand, while it is possible to convert a smartphone into a SoftPOS, less than two percent of the smartphones in India have NFC enabled technology. Our system, whilst retaining this technology, creates an alternative to NFC by utilizing radio frequency waves to orchestrate the payments. This technology allows our SoftPOS to initiate payments when one phone waves on top of the SoftPOS phone, ultimately eliminating the need for any additional hardware. We have already filed for five patents on the technology, including one in the US.

Brief us about your portfolio of solutions and the underlying technology frameworks of your latest and flagship solutions.
Currently, Zerone is working to provide solutions across four categories. The first is in facilitating payments for merchants without them needing to purchase any additional hardware. Our second solution is extending low-cost credit to merchants at extremely competitive rates. And our third initiative is providing white label solutions for customers and developers. And lastly, we have created a cloud-based software for outlets in the F&B

industry to enable a contact-less self-ordering and dining experience for customers. This self-ordering restaurant system allows customers to download the menu, order and pay from the phone. This eliminates customer queues by expediting the ‘order-to-delivery’ process, while also reducing manpower deployed to manage the restaurant.

How do you transform operations for small businesses and self-employed professionals in the country?
Predominantly, small time businesses & merchants, and self-employed individuals who do not have access to institutional credit will likely have a non-existent credit score. Bharat ZupPOS aims to solve this problem by converting any merchant's smartphone into a POS terminal by providing access to low-cost credit based on their payment data.

Moreover, Bharat ZupPOS has also partnered with EasyGov, a one-stop-shop digital platform for citizens to avail benefits of all government schemes for free and through an extremely simplified process, thus mitigating the bureaucratic and administrative hurdles of accessing benefits. Merchants who have onboarded with Bharat ZupPOS can use this platform to access the same.

What are the opportunities that you foresee in the market? What is Zerone’s future roadmap?
We see a tremendous potential change happening in the merchant enablement space today in India. Today, practically every adult has a card, however, the penetration of payment terminals is less than five percent. Therefore, effectively less than four million of the 32 million registered merchants have a POS machine, while another 40 million merchants are not registered. We are penetrating this largely unserved market, and are transforming merchant enablement in the country by bringing millions of merchants into a formal system. This, we believe, will be transformational.

In the long run, we are looking to take our platform to markets outside of India. We have already started working on extending our business to Singapore through our Singapore subsidiary. Since every country has its unique set of regulatory constraints, we feel that local partnerships might be the right way to penetrate markets outside of India. Thus, we are looking forward to partnerships in other countries while providing the technology.

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