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Smartphones in India - your constant companion

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Date28 Jul 2022

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Most people who have lived in India for some time might be familiar with the following question: "What is your mobile number?" or more simply "Mobile number?" In fact, there are almost no private or public services in India that cannot be arranged by using a mobile phone. Be it setting up an online account with the local municipality or logging into a public Wi-Fi network, you almost always need an Indian SIM card in order to be able to receive a so-called OTP (one-time password), which is required for verification. This system even goes so far that you need such an OTP for using the public Wi-Fi at Delhi International Airport, which means that international visitors will usually face difficulties in accessing the internet at the airport. However, India would not be India if there was not always a creative solution to such problems: It is usually pretty easy to find a helpful person whose phone can be used to receive the OTP for accessing the public network.

Check our article on how to get an Indian SIM card here! 

An Indian SIM card is therefore one of the most important things that should be arranged at the beginning of your stay in India. But even when you want to buy a new SIM card, it becomes apparent that this might be a challenge without already owning an Indian cell phone number. This is because a mobile number must also be provided in order to be able to receive the OTP for registering the new card. Hence, you might quickly find yourself in the absurd situation that, without an Indian SIM card, no new SIM card can be purchased. Of course, the question quickly arises as to how the “first” SIM card could ever be sold. But in India, such bureaucratic problems are usually solved with a lot of improvisation and creativity – for example by asking other customers or even passers-by for their cell phone number. It is not for nothing that the word jugaad has established itself in colloquial Hindi, for which there is no exact translation in many languages, but which roughly means solving a problem with creative means.

However, once you have got hold of an Indian SIM card, many everyday situations in India can be mastered more easily. At the latest since the onset of the Corona pandemic, delivery services have been ubiquitous in India and an Indian telephone number is usually required to use them. From food deliveries with providers such as “Zomato” or “Swiggy” to ordering groceries, electronic devices or clothing – almost everything can be conveniently delivered to your home with an app on your smartphone. The service provider “Dunzo” offers a special service: With this app you can order everything that is currently in stock in the retail shops in the area around your home. “Dunzo” acts as an intermediary between the delivering agent and the customer. You select a product category such as fresh food or medical products and the appropriate shops in the area are displayed. A delivery agent makes his way to the desired store and sends photos of the desired products to the customer. He or she in turn confirms the order and pays for it directly in the app. The delivery person can then bring the products to your doorstep.

Apparently, pretty much anything in India can be ordered or arranged with a mobile phone. Nowadays, almost no business, no matter how small, can do without a sign with a QR code, which means that even the smallest amounts can be transferred quickly and easily with the help of a digital payment app. It is a pity that due to national security regulations, an Indian identity document is mandatory in order to be able to use such a digital payment service. Unfortunately, service providers that are popular in Germany, such as “PayPal”, cannot be used in India.

Are there any other topics within everyday life in India that are of particular interest for you? Please comment below or write to us at [email protected]!

Written by: Ferdinand Schlechta

Cover Photo: Unsplash - Yogendra Singh

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#smartphone in india#digital india#apps in india#sim card india#digital payment india