SMS or short messaging service may soon be the ideal way to lend or borrow if a New Delhi-based software expert succeeds in perfecting the system for American markets.
The near-ubiquitous power of SMS could be used to undertake solutions like delivering news headlines to subscribers and other specialist needs, said Sirtaj Singh Kang, chief of Sapphire Mobile Systems.
"We expect to get rolling by early February in the US," Kang, an NRI who returned to India five years ago, said.
Kang's company is "aimed at a young urban market" and student-oriented cities in the United States. It is for people who are tech and mobile-savvy, but don't necessarily have a lot of disposable money.
The 31-year-old said: "Our management team is in the US , but our development work is going on in Delhi. (Getting the solution over to) India is not on the cards yet. Our management team doesn't have experience with an Indian market. But we're looking for skills to launch in India too."
"The market here (in India) is huge. In villages, you don't get ATMs (automated teller machines). But mobile coverage is there."
On a visit to Bangalore, Kang was talking to software experts on "writing an SMS service with free software".
"Unlike other countries, SMS in India is pretty much affordable. It costs a little more than a 30 second phone call," Kang said.
There was "certain mistrust" in using a mobile phone for commercial transactions. "Both in terms of security of the network, or worse, when your phone gets lost or stolen."
"But we are pretty confident that we've handled most of these issues in a sensible way. We've made it more secure than a credit card transaction," he added.
Costs per transaction would depend on the deal offered by the banks. "But we want it to be small enough for people to want it, and for it to actually become a cash and cheque-replacement," he said.
Kang, who lived in Australia and is now based in New Delhi's New Friends Colony, was a hacker working on the K Desktop Environment project to provide a contemporary desktop environment for Unix workstations.