Nov 16, 2016 04:01 PM IST | Source:

Time to solve problems, not gloat about opportunity: Mobikwik

Taking a dig at rival Paytm, Mobikwik‘s Upasana Taku said that we are not busy building marketplace, banks or a political agenda.

Priyanka Sahay


The second floor of the Orchid Centre in Gurgaon is bustling with activities. Employees can be seen either in their cubicles or conference rooms, discussing different strategies, perhaps to make the most out of the government's move to annul high denomination currency notes.

Sitting with us in a cabin, braving a viral fever is Upasana Taku, the co-founder of digital payments and wallet firm Mobikwik. As we speak, she is interrupted at least three times by multiple executives, who want to discuss some or the other developments, during a 40-45 minutes discussion.

It’s a busy day, she tells me, requesting them for some time, adding that her team is working day and night to make things happen.

It’s not business as usual

Indeed, it is the most happening time for the online payments and e-wallets segment in India.

It has been a week, since the government announced the decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. It has led to common men queuing for hours outside banks and ATMs to either get their notes exchanged or withdraw fresh currency notes.

The move is seen as a game changer and has benefited online payments firms significantly.

According to Taku, the average wallet transaction size of a user had increased from Rs 700-800 a month to Rs 3500-4000 now.

The company claims to have a 100 percent increase in overall traffic and 200 percent increase in app downloads.

Would all this subside, once new currency notes are back in full circulation in the market?

Taku disagrees.

"This has been a tectonic shift in the mind set of shopkeepers as well as users. So, they know that this is not the only thing that the government has done. This is the beginning, not the end. There might be other crackdowns also. So nobody now wants to rely only on cash now," she said.

According to Taku, the move will increase the online transaction to 30-35 percent, in a year, as compared with 5-10 percent currently.

The company which claims to have over 140,000 merchants said that its larger focus is to add in more and more offline small time merchants such as street vendors – vegetable and fruit sellers besides other unorganised retailers.

(A busy day at Mobikwik)

Taku said that currently, this segment accounts to around 80,000-90,000 of its overall merchant base. In the last one week, there has been 4-5 fold, rise in transaction value of offline payments.

The company has also lined up a multi-channel campaign, which will go live soon. Taku declined to share further details on that.

Ready for stiff competition

Taking a dig at rival Paytm, she said that Mobikwik is not busy building marketplace, banks or a political agenda.

"This is not the time to gloat, but to work hard and solve the problems for all the important use cases such as hospitals and medicines, food and groceries and everyday travel," she said.

Paytm's aggressive marketing strategy with the picture of the PM Narendra Modi, a day after demonetisation of notes had raised some eyebrows.

Mobikwik has removed the cost of signing up merchants as well as sending or receiving money to any bank account or mobile number.

Earlier, to transfer money from a mobile wallet to the bank, a non-KYC user was charged 4 percent and a KYC-compliant user was charged 1 percent as transaction fee.

Talking about competition from Paytm once it launches its banking service, providing interest to the customers, Taku said while as per the regulation, Mobikwik cannot give an interest on the money in the wallet, but it will compensate its users with cash backs.

"When you have money in the bank, for minimum monthly or quarterly balance, you get some interest rates, saving accounts rates. Similarly, for whatever is your minimum balance, you will get some (cash back)," she added.

Gurgaon-based One Mobikwik Systems Pvt. Ltd, which runs Mobikwik in August announced a strategic partnership with Nasdaq-listed firm Net1 which will invest USD 40 million in the company.

It has also raised money from investors such as Sequoia Capital, American Express, Tree Line Asia and Cisco Investments.

Mobikwik has also lined up a multi-channel campaign which will go live soon. Taku declined to divulge more information on that.

A Google - BCG report published in July predicted, the digital payments industry in India to grow by 10 times to USD 500 billion by 2020. With the latest announcement, it is likely to get a further push.

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