freechargeSnapdeal-owned FreeCharge has tied up with ICICI Bank’s Merchant Services, which will allow consumers to pay their bill at over 1 Lakh ICICI stores with their Freecharge accounts.

These merchants are located at across 700 cities and towns in India, the company said.

“FreeCharge’s partnership with ICICI Merchant Services, powered by First Data, will ease the payment process for merchants and consumers by introducing a swifter and secure way to make cashless payments.”

It was not specified as to how the tie-up will ease payment, but Freecharge said it involved the use of a on-the-go PIN number.

It is likely that ICICI has tweaked its merchant software to add a Freecharge section, and the merchant will be able to enter the customer’s phone number that has been registered with the wallet provider, along with the payment detail.

At this, a PIN number will be sent by the wallet company to its customer, which has to be given to the cashier for the transaction to go through.

“Customers can use their mobile phones to make payments and complete the transaction with a secure On-The-Go-Pin in less than 10 seconds. With this arrangement going live, more than one lakh merchants using ICICI Merchant Services PoS terminals can now accept the FreeCharge wallet at their establishments.”

Freecharge and Mobikwik are fighting a pitched battle with PayTM to attract as many merchants as possible on to their platforms.

PayTM has stolen a march over the other two by signing up more merchants than any other wallet company, and has emerged as the No. 1 in India. The company has been the biggest beneficiary of the recent demonetization of high-denomination notes in India and the thrust towards cashless transactions.

Banks have also entered the market with the UPI platform, which is expected to gain traction in the coming weeks and months.

Among the companies that Freecharge has already tied up with are Shoppers Stop, Hypercity, Pantaloons, Vishal Mega Mart, Café Coffee Day, Barista, McDonald’s, Haldiram and around 53,000 fuel pumps.

“In addition lakhs of smaller merchants including grocery stores, chemists and food delivery outlets use FreeCharge to offer their customers the fastest digital payment experience.”

Commenting on the partnership, Govind Rajan, Chief Executive Officer, FreeCharge said, “We are pleased to partner with ICICI Merchant Services for enabling FreeCharge to go live on an additional 1 lakh merchants as a payment option. The partnership will help us expand our footprint and enable merchants and consumers from Tier I & II cities to be part of the digital payments ecosystems.”

Commenting on the partnership, Swarup Choudhury, MD of ICICI Merchant Services & First Data India said “ICICI Merchant Services enables businesses across India to securely and conveniently accept electronic payments through its secure and advanced POS terminals and its state-of-the-art payment gateway. Accepting FreeCharge wallets on our terminals will enable merchants to increase their revenues, reduce cash handling costs and offer a better shopping experience to their customers. With our strong presence across the country, we look forward to offering FreeCharge wallet consumers the benefit of cashless payment as per their convenience.”

ICICI has also recent brought out a UPI-based ‘collect’ app for businesses that hold current accounts with the bank.

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