Founded in 2009, AstroPay is a payment service that can be used for online purchases. It allows users to buy one or several virtual cards that function similar to a Visa, Mastercard or RuPay card. However, in contrast to these cards, AstroPay isn’t connected to a bank account. They are loaded with a pre-paid balance. Thus, the selling point of AstroPay is that these cards are safer to use.
But is AstroPay really that great? Let’s take a closer look.
Where Can AstroPay Be Used?
Despite operating for over a decade, there aren’t that many Indian online stores that accept payments with AstroPay. Some of the companies you may be familiar with that support the method include:
Not a long list. However, there is one specific group of sites that is over-represented when it comes to payments with AstroPay and that group is gambling sites. Browsing through gambling sites that are located outside of the country, a huge number of casinos and Indian-centered lottery sites that support AstroPay can be found. Whether we’re talking about sports bettors, lottery enthusiasts or casino fanatics, this seems to be the main target group of AstroPay.
How Does AstroPay Work?
AstroPay is an e-Wallet built around pre-paid, virtual debit cards.
In short, the cards work the following way:
- Visit AstroPay or an approved merchant that supply AstroPay cards.
- Purchase one or several cards with a fixed value on it, such as ₹500, ₹1,000 or ₹5,000.
- Receive the virtual card to your specified e-mail address or AstroPay account.
- Visit a shop or casino, choose AstroPay as a payment method and enter the card number of your virtual card in order to make a monetary transaction.
To purchase a card, you can use one of many payment methods such as cryptocurrency, debit cards, PayPal, Skrill and Neteller. However, methods will vary depending on the merchant you use.
On one hand, it is recommended to use AstroPay’s own platform as merchants will include a service fee that can be as high as 10%. On the other, you won’t find as many payment methods supported.
The full amount of an AstroPay card doesn’t have to be used at once, but can be divided into several deposits. If you’re ever unsure about the balance, it can be easily checked on the official website.
What about the e-Wallet?
As far as our research goes, the main purpose of AstroPay’s e-Wallet is to be able to receive payments, which isn’t possible with the virtual debit cards. You are able to fund your wallet with money, but it doesn’t seem like any shops or gambling sites actually allow you to make deposits from it. There may be some, but as far as we know, deposits are only made with the virtual debit card.
How about mobile apps?
AstroPay has mobile apps developed for iOS as well as Android which can be downloaded here from Apple’s store or here from Google Play. The apps are easy to use and have the full functionality of the website. Virtual debit cards can be purchased and handled, and the e-Wallet accessed.
What’s the Reason for Using AstroPay?
AstroPay’s own selling point for using its services is that it’s safer to use than traditional options such as Visa, Mastercard or RuPay card. It is true that you don’t have to enter any sensitive card details when making a purchase. If your phone or computer is compromised – or the website you use – it doesn’t really matter if someone gets a hold of your AstroPay card details since it’s only a temporary card.
However, these days security measures for debit cards tend to be high anyway, offering 2-step authentication. In other words, when you use a real debit card on a site, you have to approve the transaction with the help of a bank card reader or your phone. Sounds familiar, right? Most, if not all banks in India have a system like this. Thus, the extra security that AstroPay provides isn’t that much of a selling point.
From the research we have carried out, it seems like the real usage of AstroPay is for casino, betting and lottery players who want to hide their gambling transactions. With AstroPay acting as a middleman between a person’s bank account and the gambling site, the bank would not be able to know where the money comes from. This, however, is also true for more popular e-Wallets such as Skrill.
Having done a thorough review of AstroPay, we see little reason for using this payment method at the moment. If you’re a gambler who wants to stay under the radar from the government, it may have a purpose, but for the vast majority of people, there is no reason for getting involved with AstroPay. It isn’t much safer than other payment methods and it can rarely be used anywhere.