Zafar Imam, CEO, Finshell

Zafar Imam is the CEO at FinShell, a leading financial services brand that introduced smartphone-based financial services in India powering two platforms OPPO Kash & realme PaySa. Zafar is one of the co-founders of the company, and he was the Chief Business Officer and a Director in the company since April 2019. Zafar has two decades plus of experience in consumer banking and FinTech space. He served at Axis Bank for more than 13 years and worked in different roles building the consumer finance business. Along with his immense industry experience, a father of 2, Zafar brings his patience, maturity and strategy skills on the table. His interests include cooking, music and reading. He is a people’s person and believes in investing in people as that goes a long way. With Zafar as the Chief Business Officer, FinShell has witnessed exponential progress. The company has been able to launch five product lines within 12 months – personal loans, channel finance, mutual funds, UPI & Insurance.


The fintech industry has come a long way already as significant milestones have been achieved over the years. But more changes are yet to sweep the industry as changes in the form of digital payment services are emerging and taking the financial world by storm. We can be looking at a new era altogether. In retrospect, concepts such as digital payment solutions would have been brushed aside as a far-fetched and fallacious notion. But, now, we are first-hand witnesses to contactless technologies, and we see how nothing is impossible out there.

That said, contactless technologies are now set to become an integral part of the day. Though the payments industry may not fully adopt the same, it will be just a matter of time before there is a cross-industry adoption.

COVID-19: A catalyst of digital payments with contactless technologies

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has unleashed an unprecedented wave of lockdowns, social distancing, and home quarantine. This crisis is bringing about a change in consumer behaviour. There is a mass transition from contact-based solution to contactless innovations. People turn towards online modes to execute their vital daily functions such as shopping and buying essentials from the comforts of their homes. Due to this trend of people taking to online modes, the fintech industry is witnessing an explosion along the lines of digital payments.

Considering the current status quo, turning to contactless experiences is only a logical step on the part of consumers. Against the backdrop of a pandemic as virulent as the one we are witnessing, it is common sense to refrain from physical contact and stay safe.

Unified Payment Interface (UPI)

Developed by the National Payments Corporation of India, Unified Payment Interface is an innovative platform that enables an instant payment settlement. The unique selling point (USP) of UPI is that it is versatile as interoperability is its hallmark. It facilitates both B2B and B2C transactions and is now one of the most promising real-time payment solutions in the world. In a time when people recoil from high-hazard contact-based transactions, payment solutions such as Unified Payment Interface are bound to take precedence. Based on the current growth estimates evaluation, we can say that UPI-powered transactions will surpass that of card-based transactions in just a span of two years.

Furthermore, as many 140 Indian banks are now adopting UPI payment gateway, a rapid surge from 21 banks in 2019. Now, UPI transactions have also hit the ‘billion’ threshold.

Mass transition from traditional card payments to contactless payments

Due to the disruption of contactless payments, the traditional card transaction is on the wane. Now, we have card tokenization which allows customers to use their mobile devices as a card to make payments. As things stand, traditional card transaction is an outdated process, and banks are moving away from cash management systems such as ATMs that are now seen as an expensive strategy. To that end, banks are scaling up digital payments facility, and the finance industry is set to undergo a change that could result in an all-new landscape.

According to recent findings, there is a massive decline in the usage of the overall credit card as card users are becoming more judicious. As such, credit and debit cards are soon going to become a thing of the past. With contactless payment technologies in place, mobile payment systems can safely store credit and debit card information, thereby empowering smartphone-wielding consumers like never before.

Transactions via contactless payment card are much faster than traditional payment solutions

It appears that the financial world could not have enough of contactless experiences. According to reports, over 60% of the financial transactions in India are below Rs. 2,000-mark and can be processed without a PIN. With that in mind, numerous financial institutions are now appreciating the concept of contactless debit cards. These contactless debit cards work by leveraging the principle of NFC or Near Field Communications.

NFC technology utilizes radio transmission to establish contact when the cards are waved near a POS terminal. Therefore, users will be able to initiate a transaction by merely waving a card instead of swiping it in a machine.


Contactless technologies are heralds of a new era. Down the line, things such as contact-based payments will become a story from the past, a thing to recount in the history books. The global pandemic may be contained with the success of new vaccines, but there is no certainty that COVID-19 will exit the world for good anytime soon. What is certain, though, is that the virus is going to stay with us, and contactless businesses will be the norm of the day. On a given day, a customer would prefer a contactless payment solution to avoid the risk of viral transmission. Therefore, digitization will be a permanent trend.

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