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Fintechs in India boost payments soundbox pitches to attract merchants

Some of India’s biggest fintech startups are expanding into soundboxes, whose chimes are becoming millions of Indian merchants’ new “ka-ching.”

Paytm, which leads the market with over 7 million merchants, launched an advanced soundbox that accepts Rupay, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. The device allows cardholders to tap and pay for transactions under $60.

Cards have been in South Asia for 30 years, but only 4 million shops accept them. However, soundboxes are now in 8.5 million stores and growing rapidly.

Paytm’s new soundbox, priced at 999 Indian rupees ($12), supports 11 languages, has a display, and a 2,600mAh battery that lasts 5 days on a charge.

Digital transactions in Indian retail are increasingly represented by the soundbox, whose bill of materials was under $20. Its audible confirmation feature is popular in marketplaces and noisy street corners, boosting seller and buyer confidence in payments.

As Paytm and Walmart-backed PhonePe charge merchants low subscription fees, the soundbox has become a lucrative subscription model. Beyond its auditory alerts, the soundbox provides valuable insights into merchant behaviors, enabling the offering of loans based on this data, which is increasingly attracting bank interest.

Banks in India were wary of the QR or soundbox market because they thought it was unprofitable. Paytm, like Square in the U.S., assessed merchant cashflow and transactions to prove lending.

At a Monday press conference, Visa VP and Head of Merchants Sales Rishi Chhabra said the Soundbox will “propel payments and consumer choice to the next level.”

Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said, “Paytm has always been at the forefront of innovating for India’s small businesses, solving their payments and financial services problems.” This Paytm Card Soundbox takes it to the next level. Merchants and consumers need card acceptance as simple as Paytm QR Code mobile payments.

The push makes Paytm’s card offering more competitive against Pine Labs and bank POS machines.

Interesting, Peak XV and Fidelity-backed Pine Labs released a new POS machine with a soundbox alert system. Startup claims its new device costs a third of terminal machines.

PhonePe, a Paytm competitor, updated its soundbox to notify merchants in Amitabh Bachchan’s voice. reported that India’s argest company, Reliance, is testing a soundbox on campus.

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