Recurring payments are booming in India, with significant growth of 225% in 2021. The payment model is popular among subscription-based businesses such as streaming services, online marketplaces, utility companies, and academic institutions.
In this payment model, customers allow businesses to automatically pull funds from their accounts on a pre-arranged schedule for ongoing products or services. By setting up recurring payments, companies can streamline their payment process, improve cash flow and provide their customers with a hassle-free payment experience.
That is not to say that this payment model is without challenges. Businesses must ensure payment security and comply with data privacy and payment processing regulations. However, with the right system and process, you can effectively manage recurring payments for your business.
Below, we will look at mechanisms for businesses to streamline recurring payments in India and how automated billing can help.
The Current State of Recurring Payments in India
Earlier, businesses in India relied mainly on manual billing and invoicing processes, which were time-consuming and prone to errors. The advent of digital payment platforms has made accepting recurring payments easier for businesses. Companies offering recurring services can set up automated billing and collect payments regularly without customer intervention.
However, payment safety is a significant concern in recurring payments as their automated nature makes them susceptible to fraud and unauthorised transactions. To address this issue, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) introduced a framework for processing e-mandates on cards and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) for recurring transactions.
The framework sets out several security features, such as an additional factor of authentication (AFA) during registration, pre-debit notifications, and a limit on the value and frequency of transactions. This makes automated recurring payments safe for all parties and helps build trust in the system.
Benefits of automated billing and invoicing for Indian businesses
Businesses can benefit in several ways by automating their recurring payments. Here are a few significant advantages:
Increased efficiency in payment processing
An automated billing and payment system speeds up recurring payment processing and collection for businesses by eliminating manual intervention each time the payment is due. Once you set up a recurring payment plan, the payment is automatically deducted from the customer’s account at regular intervals, streamlining the process efficiently for both customers and businesses.
Reduced administrative burden on businesses
Automated billing minimises administrative effort by eliminating the need for manual calculation and data entry. The system automatically generates and sends invoices to customers, saving considerable time for employees. It also reduces the errors that are common with manual billing and invoicing.
Improved cash flow management
An automated billing and payment system gives companies a steady and predictable cash flow. This way, you can manage your finances more effectively. Automated collections also reduce the likelihood of late or missed payments. So you won’t have to waste time and resources chasing customers for outstanding payments.
Enhanced customer experience
Automating recurring payments offer greater convenience for customers as well. They only need to input their payment details once and continue to enjoy goods and services every month through automatic debit. The ease of payment can contribute to higher customer retention and reduced churn rate for businesses.
Payment mechanisms for businesses to simplify recurring payments in India
Managing recurring payments can be challenging for businesses, especially those with a large customer base. Fortunately, several payment mechanisms are available in India that can help automate and streamline recurring payments collection:
eNACH, or Electronic National Automated Clearing House, is an automated recurring payment mechanism in India controlled by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It allows businesses to collect recurring payments by setting up a recurring payment mandate through net banking or debit cards.
To use the eNACH facility, businesses must first obtain a mandate from customers authorising the debit of their bank account for a fixed amount on a recurring basis. Once the mandate is set up, the customer’s bank automatically debits the customer’s account on the scheduled date and transfers it to the business’s account through NACH.
The payment mechanism is popular among businesses that offer subscription-based services, such as utility companies, online streaming platforms, and insurance providers.
ECS Mandate works similarly to eNACH for making recurring payments. Here too, the business has to submit the mandate request to the customer’s bank, physically or online. The mandate is mainly used for bulk transactions, such as salary, dividend, pension payments, loan instalments, etc.
ECS mandate is currently available in only four to five banks, and the facility for availing it may differ from bank to bank. Backed by the RBI and the NPCI, it is another secure and reliable mechanism for recurring payments.
Since the launch of UPI Autopay in 2020, customers have been able to easily set up e-mandate using any UPI application. They need to link their bank accounts with the UPI app and provide a one-time approval to the businesses for whom they want to automate payments.
Once authorised, businesses can automatically deduct recurring payments at intervals ranging from weekly to yearly. However, customers have the flexibility to revoke or pause auto-debit at any time via the app. This autopay feature is available on several UPI-enabled apps, such as BHIM, Google Pay, Paytm, and PhonePe. Plural offers UPI Autopay for recurring payment collection. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.
Many businesses also offer the option to set up automatic payments on credit cards. Credit card recurring payment works well for many customers as it is one of the safest options for making personal and business payments. Customers can easily track all their payments through card statements and report discrepancies, if any.
Credit card automated payments also use eNACH and eMandate to make recurring payments. The mechanism can be set up quickly with a few card details and OTP authorisation.
Enable automatic recurring payment collection for your business with Plural
Recurring payments are becoming increasingly popular across industries. By offering customers automated billing options, businesses can achieve several benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced administrative burden, improved cash flow management, and enhanced customer experience.
Plural offers an easy and efficient way for businesses to streamline and collect recurring payments. With Plural’s Subscription product with a UPI Autopay feature, you can seamlessly collect and track automated recurring payments and provide your customers with a hassle-free payment experience. Learn more about Plural’s payment solutions and enable automatic recurring payments for your business today! Reach us at email@example.com to know more.
Plural by Pine Labs has received an in-principle authorisation from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to operate as a Payment Aggregator.
Amrita Konaiagari is a Marketing Manager at Plural by Pine Labs and Editor of the Plural blog. She has over 10 years of marketing experience across Media & Tech industries and holds a Master’s degree in Communication and Journalism. She has a passion for home décor and is most definitely a dog person.