Ecommerce-fintech deals may attract scrutiny

Bengaluru: The newly revised ecommerce policy could have indirect effects on digital payments and the broader fintech industry, especially regarding non-discriminatory pricing.

The new norms on non-discriminatory pricing has the potential to be extended to exclusive partnerships that e-commerce platforms strike with banks and payment companies on specific products or with specific retailers only, said two top executives of the digital payments industry.

“While the fine print is yet to be ascertained, it gives a sense that platforms need to be completely neutral while selling products and nothing special can be offered to customers through payments as well,” said an executive mentioned above.

The new guidelines lay out that ecommerce marketplaces should be providing services to vendors in a fair and non-discriminatory manner and “such services will include but (is) not limited to logistics warehousing… payments, financing, etc,” said the press release from the government issued on Wednesday.

Industry insiders highlighted that it could affect the potential business of the multiple e-commerce entities trying to lend to their customers themselves. Several ecomm companies have been dabbling in the lending business, in partnership with non-banking players and sometimes through their own arms which could come under the lens, said the second executive quoted above.

In most cases, discounts are subvented by the manufacturer, but in some cases they do get subvented by the merchant, which might now be discontinued.

On the other hand, top executives of the digital lending industry sensed a higher chance of rolling out quick loans to consumers trying to buy products online.

Especially in the check out financing business when consumers, in the process of paying for the product, are instantly offered loans to convert the purchase into instalments.

“Since the heavy discounting model is not going to work and going forward, to be able to sell expensive products, they will need to offer financing options which could open up a big scope for us,” said a founder of a check out financing startup.

The development was reported by

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