Over the past few months, many temples have started accepting donations through Paytm,” said Kiran Vasireddy, senior VP at Paytm, “This is a part of the rapid shift in consumer behaviour towards going cashless. We will continue to support this evolution by providing an option to collect cashless donations at temples and other places of worship across the country .”
Around 30 religious institutions have tied up with Paytm including Siddhivinayak Ganapati temple in Mumbai, ISKCON in New Delhi, Bajrangbali Mandir in Kanpur and God is Light church in Jalandhar.
India’s spiritual and religious market is estimated to be around $30 billion. A large chunk of that is in the form of donations, with some of the richest temples earning hundreds of crores of rupees every year in the form of cash offerings.
Even a mere fraction of that sum provides a lucrative opportunity to digital wallet companies, said industry experts.
“This trend is here to stay,” said Arvind Singhal, founder and chairman of retail consultancy Technopak. “At present, the number of digital donations may be negligible, but four-five years down the line, as people start carrying less cash, the percentage will dramatically increase. First, you don’t have to be in a temple or mosque to donate and, secondly, not everybody gives huge donations. There are many people who put in even Rs 10 or Rs 50. This becomes easy with digital wallets.” Digital payment platform Freecharge brought on board Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in the capital and Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir, an upcoming skyscraper temple for Lord Krishna in Vrindavan Mathura, which will stand tall at 700 feet. “With the digital revolution and stress on e-enabled payments, it is imperative that cultural initiatives like ours get the maximum visibility , thus be available on all ewallet platforms,” said Bharatarashbha Dasa, VP of Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir.
However, this is not the first time India’s vast and burgeoning religious market is brushing shoulders with technology . Take, for instance, website Onlineprasad that delivers prasad (a religious offering of food) to one’s doorstep from temples across the country . Or for that matter, large religious institutions such as Tirumala Tirupati Temple that allows devotees to book a `special entry darshan’ through its website.