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Indian Mobile Payments Market Gets a Boost from Bollywood Stars

February 16, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Using celebrities to endorse products is nothing new. Using celebrities to market mobile payments to India, meanwhile, is proving to be a noteworthy, game-changing prospect.

So much so, in fact, that multiple celebrities are being called in and much of the might of Bollywood itself is being focused on marketing mobile payments to the wealthiest in India.

The new reports suggest that several of the biggest names in the industry are not only endorsing mobile payments, but increasingly using such systems themselves in a bid to have more cash in circulation for the poorest Indians.

Said Indians don’t have much access to the mobile payment systems involved here, and if the celebrities can push more users into mobile payments instead, they in turn can free up more cash for the unbanked and mobile-deficient users to put to work instead.

The celebrities’ pledge, according to the Wall Street Journal, reads in part “We are the soldiers of our new economy. We pledge to use less cash to make it available to those more needy in our villages.”

This is a risky maneuver from a marketing standpoint. While celebrity endorsement often works well—for many it’s a form of influencer marketing, and since people often seek out the words of influencers in terms of shaping opinions, it’s a useful trick in a field where people physically or mentally block advertising—it doesn’t always work so well on some users.

Wealthy users are tough to market to in the first place; they’re often resistant to marketing measures, seeing these as a way to separate a person from cash, which is often important to the wealthy.

Using celebrities may have even less impact, since the desire to emulate a celebrity is often reduced among the wealthy as they’re already able to emulate celebrities by dint of being rich.

Still, if this works, it may be just what India needs to take a lot of pressure off its poor and put more cash in their hands instead of in the hands of the wealthy, who already have access to the infrastructure needed for mobile payments. It’s a risky gambit, but it may just do the job.