It is no secret that India is one developing country to keep an eye on. Internet adoption in the country is ramping up exponentially, and projections indicate India will house 657 million Internet users by 2019. In fact, most of these Internet users will experience the world wide web for the first time on a mobile device, skipping the computer generation altogether.
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Mobile Apps Play A Key Role in India
India is one of those countries where, despite quite a large part of the population being tech-savvy, computer usage has always remained fairly low. Obtaining a desktop computer or laptop is not as common as it is in the Western World, and mobile devices such as smartphones are more accessible and cheaper.
As a direct result, there is a real chance for desktop computers — and even web browsers — to become completely obsolete in India. Right now, most of the country’s online shopping originates from mobile devices and applications, rather than desktop computers or laptops.
Internet connectivity in India is on the rise as well, and most of the future world wide web users will experience access to the rest of the world through a mobile device. Regular Internet, as used by desktop computers and laptops, is very costly in India, making it a less preferable choice to mobile Internet connectivity.
All of these factors combined make for an interesting ecosystem in India, where smartphones are powering the online retail market. To put this into perspective, mobile commerce will become bigger than desktop e-commerce in the country as early as next year, according to CNN Money.
As a retailer, this means it’s time to get those mobile applications developed as soon as possible. While developing proper mobile commerce applications takes up precious time, various retailers have created an “in-between” solution. Several retailers have enabled a mobile version of their shopping website – accessible through a browser – which offers specific deals that are not visible on its desktop website counterpart.
Flipkart, which is one of India’s largest e-commerce brands, didn’t even offer any specific discounts for desktop users during India’s festive season. All of their discounts and offers were available exclusively to mobile users, which is a strong indication of where online commerce in the country is headed.
But there is another trend emerging as well, as fashion portal Myntra shut down its desktop and mobile websites altogether. Instead, the company has transitioned into an app-only presence, which puts it ahead of the curve compared to several competitors. There is no denying that India is turning into a mobile-only country over the next few years.
With a cheap smartphone market in India, most consumers have access to devices costing less than US$100. Additionally, mobile data plans in the country are quite affordable, especially for members of the growing middle-class. Combining cheap smartphones with affordable mobile Internet plans lay the groundwork for a major mobile boom in India over the next few years.
Possible Effect on Bitcoin Adoption?
The lack of access to financial services for most Indians creates another interesting scenario. With the rise of mobile devices and data connectivity, there will be a huge demand for mobile payment options in the years to come. This is where Bitcoin could play a major role as it is quite accessible to mobile users, and availability does not depend on governments or banks.
Unocoin has become a popular Bitcoin wallet service in India over the years. The company’s main goal is to make buying, using and accepting bitcoin easy and convenient, while upholding the necessary KYC and AML guidelines. Purchasing bitcoin can be done by using an Indian bank account, and coins can be stored in a Unocoin wallet or vault.
For merchants exploring the online and mobile commerce sectors, Bitcoin integration through Unocoin is simple. But there is more to the Unocoin Merchant Gateway, as it can also be used by freelancers to accept Bitcoin as a medium of payment for their products and services. Last but not least, there are no fees associated with receiving bitcoin as a payment method, according to the website.
What are your thoughts on the developments in India? Will Bitcoin become a part of mobile commerce in the future? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Unocoin, Shutterstock, Slideshare, Coin.Dance
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