Nov 30, 2016 08:00 AM IST | Source:

Mobikwik reveals its 'real' rival and it‘s not other e-wallets

The aim is to empower the rickshaw puller or vendor in a way to make accept and make payments that is safe and secure both for the customer and the recipient says Upasana Taku.

Priyanka Sahay


Online payments firm Mobikwik has launched a lighter version of its app --Mobikwik Lite. The company also rebranded its logo making it bolder and bigger, basis the market feedback that the logo needed to have more prominence. In an interaction with, co-founders Upasana Taku (director) and Bipin Preet Singh (chief executive officer) share insights on why the lighter app will work in the era of digitisation drive and why was it necessary to bring all other platforms including rival e-wallets on the same platform to complete transactions.

Q: Tell us about the genesis of MobiKwik Lite post the demonetisation announcement by Prime Minister?

Upasana: Till November 9th, we all were trying to react. As a primary research I, along with Bipin went out to the city markets. We realised that at a lot of shops had pasted stickers (of wallets) but they were not accepting the payments.

Neither our competitors' nor ours.

Merchants did not know how to make payments.

Our penetration in market was relatively low because we had recently launched the product compared to our competitor (Paytm).

We in fact started the offline work (to reach out to merchants) only in September, this year.

Second problem that we realised was that people were not able to install apps. These apps were heavy. Our app size was 4MB. Others were over 10MB. People also did not have an email id. Their smartphones were very basic with low processing power and memory. Then the internet speed was poor ... not even 2G.

People were also not able to understand, how to operate an e-wallet. The whole hype of a vendor accepting payments on wallet seemed to me as rubbish. We decided that we will design an app which is less than 1MB.

It has to work on the cheapest smartphones and definitely should be in local language. We had to keep very limited features – how to accept payments, how to make payments and how to transfer money in a bank account. We let go of the rest of show offs.

The aim is to empower the rickshaw puller or vendor in a way to make accept and make payments that is safe and secure both for the customer and the recipient.

Q: How will you ensure that the unorganised retailers start using your e-wallets?

Upasana: The aim is to have a field force who will be present outside all the metro stations, local train stations, and airports. These people will teach customers and give them a demo and make them transact. That is how change will come. Having a ‘Stickers strategy’ won't help here.

Q: Payments is not like social media that consumers would like to keep experimenting. Don't you think, the unorganised retailers will get confused with so many offerings including a allowing a plastic card and SMSes, etc to transact?

Upasana: No. They also want to simplify life. If an auto driver is standing in the queue outside a bank to withdraw or deposit cash for three hours, will his daily income not suffer?

So if any auto driver makes a transfer instantly…it means they want to save their time. They want to earn money. They have to go to recharge shops and buy vegetables and edibles. So the change on grassroots will happen when a product is very simple and localised.

We are working very diligently with a lot of NGOs. They are trying to bring lot of slum dwellers on the e-wallet platform.

Here, the (MobiKwik Lite) app is sending you an SMS. The payment is happening, using Zakpay's payment gateway.

Consumers can pay with a debit card, credit card, net banking and other wallets. Even if you pay with your card, you are paying through your own phone on a pre-certified payments page.

This is ‘wallet++’. We are giving you a wallet plus everything. I am not saying don't pay with wallets. You can still pay with wallets. That is the number one option.

You are also encouraging other e-wallets. Don't you think there will be some amount of conflict of interest with encouraging competition?

Bipin: Our immediate competition is with cash. I think people are struggling because, there are people with cards and with other e-wallets. Then there are people who want to use only a bank account and not a (debit) card to transact. This is the solution that addresses all that.

Q: By the end of the current financial year how many users, do you target on Mobikwik Lite?

Bipin: We are targeting close to 20 million new users just with Mobikwik lite in the next 90 days. Currently, Mobikwik has 40 million users. We are adding 7-8 million users per month. The same will see 20-24 million addition in the next 90 days.

Q: What is the average amount of transaction expected on Mobikwik Lite?

Bipin: We expect a minimum of Rs 2000 of average transaction on this app.

Q: Which merchants are you targeting the most with this new app?

Upasana: High frequency merchants such as grocery, vegetables and fruits, milk and bakery, tea vendor, chemists, mobile recharge, basically all the places with high footfalls.

Q: You said Mobikwik will spend Rs 20 crore on an advertising campaign. How long will this campaign last?

Upasana: The campaign is being launched right now and should go on for the next 1-1.5 months. We are not looking at TVCs but radio jingles and digital media advertising. We were roughly spending one third of this before demonetisation.

Q: When it comes to ground presence or visibility, Mobikwik is far behind bigger rival Paytm. What is your strategy against a product which is already viral in the market?

Upasana: It is a very easy question. A viral product which doesn't work ... the only thing we have to do is to go to the vendors and tell them that this (Mobikwik) works. This doesn't require any sticker or a QR Code.

Q: What is new in the MobiKwik's logo?

Upasana: We have now adopted a new blue and you will also see Mobikwik being written in bold letters. It was on the basis of a market feedback that we received.

Q: Do you think changing the logo visibility will lead to a larger adoption?

Upasana: I don't think only visibility can get you good business. Visibility and product, should go hand in hand.

Q: What is the average addition that users usually make in the MobiKwik wallet?

Upasana: The average load in the wallet is about Rs 2,500. They load it twice and then use it for 7-8 transactions.

Q: Which all sectors do you see people transacting the most?

Upasana: People are using wallets for all forms of travel including autos, cabs, train, planes, etc.

Q: By when will you be able to finalise Paytm's participation for Mobikwik lite?

Upasana: We are talking to them. Let's see.

Q: Given the sort of problems an end users are reported to be facing while transacting money from banks and ATMs, do you think the government could have executed the whole process in a better manner?

Upasana: Yeah definitely. I think, other countries have done it in a step by step manner. For example, Sweden did it in all public transport, then all hospitals then education.

But in India, it is not just about digitisation, it is also about getting rid of black money. So it would have been very hard to do. We could have been better prepared, but I mean, it is a step in the right direction.

Overall payments in India is USD 1.5 trillion of that around 10 percent happens digitally including banks and wallets. Post demonetisation, this is expected to grow to 40 percent in the next 6-9 months, which is a big thing. 

Q: How will that help users in the long run?

Upasana: Once they start doing transactions digitally they will have a transaction history. Eventually they become eligible for loans. They can have bank accounts. They can save money, earn interest. They can get short term loans when needed. They can get medical insurance. These are all important problems.

Q: By when do you plan to become profitable? Are there any segments that are already making money?

Upasana: We have 2.5 lakh merchants across e-commerce, offline merchants and recharge and bill payments, among others. We are already making money in online payments across food, travel and all online shopping and recharge.

Q: What is the commission you are charging currently?

Upasana: The range is 1.5-3 percent of the transactions.

Q: Indian consumers are price sensitive, till the time you are giving cash back?

Upasana: The sort of crazy cashbacks that were being given in the e-commerce sector, last year, it is not like that. Currently, there is so much of importance of digital payments among consumers that they do not need incentives, they just need access.

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