To pay for an online purchase, you usually have four digital options — credit cards, debit cards, net banking, and of course, wallets. All of them require you to either spend immediately or enter some sort of code for authentication like CVV, OTP or both in a few cases. But, imagine a scenario where every platform like a food ordering or ticket booking service lets you open a universal credit account or as the pre-Snapchat generation would say, a “khaata” (or Ledger).
An Indian startup, Simpl, has been working towards that exact goal for a couple of years now. Its product, also named Simpl is a payments platform which plugs into various third-party services like Zomato, BookMyShow and allows you to skip the payments gateway entirely. Instead, Simpl keeps adding all of these transactions into a common bill which you’re supposed to clear every fifteen days.
Signing up for yet another payment service might sound unreasonable at this point. However, Simpl has a handful of clear and convenient advantages over its peers. For starters, you don’t have to deal with any one-time passwords. Once you’re done, for instance, adding items to the cart, selecting the Simpl option is all you need to do for confirming the order. Whatever the amount is will be appended to your Simpl bill.
Once a device is verified on Simpl’s platform, there’s no OTP or manual verification required for every subsequent transaction. Instead, Simpl carries out multi-factor authentication in the background – and asks users to do a manual verification (like an OTP) in case the device changes, or there’s a change in usage pattern. Nitya Sharma, CEO, and Co-founder of Simpl
Second, you won’t have to worry about your bank account or wallet balance. Simpl is based on a credit system. And if you continue employing their service in addition to clearing the bills regularly, your spend limit will consequently increase. For new users, it’s Rs 2,500. That might sound a bit low for someone who intends to use Simpl across platforms extensively, but for first-timers, I feel it’s a fair amount. After all, it will be raised every two weeks.
In addition to that, it’s also relatively easier to deal with returns and refunds on Simpl. See, on other platforms, if you cancel an order, you’ll have to wait for a couple of days before the merchant refunds the amount. On Simpl, on the contrary, there’s a buffer period in a way. Therefore, the entry can be just eliminated from your Simpl bill once the merchant approves the cancellation request.
“On average, Simpl users get refunds within two hours of the transaction taking place. In case this doesn’t happen, a user can approach Simpl, and we then contact the merchant on the user’s behalf.”, said Sharma.
Another handy perk of opting for Simpl is that you won’t ever face a payment failure error during the checkout process as there’s simply no transaction involved. That is, of course, considering that Simpl itself is not temporarily down. This is particularly a boon for users who travel abroad a lot and at times, need to clear, for instance, their bill. With wallets or even credit card, there’s always the possibility of you not receiving the one-time password in a foreign land and yeah, most of the times people invest in a local SIM card anyway. That being said, Simpl is not compatible with any billing services right now. We certainly hope they add it soon.
On being asked about future merchant partnerships, Sharma said “We are currently live with over 150 merchants, and we are in conversation with many more. For our users, the benefit is clear. The more merchants where they can use Simpl, the more useful it is for them.”
Setting up a new Simpl account is also a surprisingly straightforward process. For now, you only need to input your email address along with the phone number which, in fact, can seem like Simpl’s most glaring shortcoming. As Simpl doesn’t ask for any identity proof, one can easily abuse its credit feature by creating multiple accounts through prepaid numbers. Simpl’s solution for that is also one of its key highlights for interested merchants.
Simpl will be eventually a premium feature on every platform. On a few apps like Faasos, it already is. Hence, you need to be a member of their “Elite” program to be able to integrate your Simpl account. Therefore, unless you are an active customer, there’s no way you can exploit its services by creating new accounts. Merchants, additionally, will be able to offer a seamless checkout process by adding Simpl as a premium option only.
You can easily track your spendings as well since all the online transactions and refunds are accessible from a single page. This, obviously, will be much more useful when Simpl becomes more widely available.
Simpl, however, is not alone in this profound battleground of digital credit platforms. PayU’s LazyPay largely offers similar services as well. Both of them currently also have nearly identical partnerships, although Simpl is compatible with BookMyShow and Grofers, two of the most significant platforms in the digital market. LazyPay, on the contrary, has Swiggy by its side. Therefore, it’s hard to judge who will come out on top.
I’ve been personally employing Simpl for the last few days. And I have to say, not having to restock my wallet account every other day is a pleasant feeling. Unfortunately, Simpl is still in its nascent stages and is not present on three of my most used services — Uber, UberEats, and Swiggy. That being said, it’s a brilliant approach to getting rid of the annoying payment process, and I hope the company brings more merchants onboard sooner than later as until then, it’s just another payment account one will have to manage.