AmEx launches virtual wallet for online buyers in India

The ezeClick service provides American Express card members an easy and fast method to complete their online purchases. Would faster checkouts and higher engagement mean more business for merchants?


According to Google India, around 8 million Indians shopped online in 2012  and the U.S. Internet giant in December partnered several Indian shopping sites for "Cyber Monday".

In the year 2011 to 2012, consumer interest in online shopping in India grew 128 percent compared to only 40 percent the previous year. According to Forrester, the e-commerce market here is set to grow the fastest within the Asia-Pacific region between 2012 and 16.

While the growth of e-commerce in the country is an encouraging story, it is not without hiccups. Indian consumers prefer cash-on-delivery due to security concerns about using credit cards online. Another awkward roadblock is the high number of transactions that get dropped off due to users not physically having their cards on-hand. Several merchants store credit card details to ease future payments, but the use is restricted to individual merchants.

And this is a hole American Express (AmEx) India's new product is aiming to plug. ezeClick provides AmEx card members an easy and fast method to complete their online purchase, by allowing them to prefill customer data such as card number, expiry date, four-digit card identification number, and postal code which will be stored in the ezeClick virtual wallet for future use.

Offered free to all AmEx card members, the service allows customers not to have to refer to their plastic card for future online transactions. The transaction process is fast, safe and secure. Certified by Verisign, the service uses SSL to encrypt personal information. eZeClick also sends a one-time password (OTP) for every transaction to the registered mobile or e-mail ID in accordance with Reserve Bank of India (RBI) regulations. Not just the customers, the service also addresses fears merchants have about any potential fraud as card data is not entered and stored on their servers.

When I spoke to Sanjay Rishi, president of AmEx India, he explained the benefits for partner merchants: "The average online transaction size of AmEx card members is more than three times the size of other online transactions. The power of their superior spend, coupled with faster checkouts and higher engagement, means more business for merchants."

The next-generation virtual wallet simplifies the checkout process and claims to drive more online shopping. Since no card details need to be entered at the time of transaction, the eZeClick service helps merchants reduce the number of transaction declines, prevents accidental dropoffs, and reduces the chances of cart abandonment. Interestingly, it also enables frequent and higher value transactions on impulse.

According to Vibha Bajaj, head of public affairs and communications at AmEx India, the ezeClick offering is already live across some 40 leading online merchants in India, covering travel, retail, utilities, apparels, and entertainment like eBay, MakeMytrip, BookMyShow, Infibeam, Vodafone, Idea, Tata Sky, and Spicejet, among others. "More, including Flipkart, are coming very soon," Vibha assured.  

Disclosure: Abhishek Baxi had been a digital consultant to American Express India in some of the company's previous online campaigns.