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Four years ago, everything changed in India; We call it the Jio effect: PhonePe CEO Sameer Nigam

80 per cent of PhonePe’s users come from non-metros. The fintech is thus focused on ensuring products remain simple to use and access for Tier-II & III customers.

August 26, 2021 / 01:46 PM IST
Representative image (Source: ShutterStock)

Representative image (Source: ShutterStock)

After payments and purchases, Indian customers are slowly adapting to managing investments and their money online. Walmart-owned PhonePe’s top deck believes that this is the opportunity to re-think how financial services have been done so far.

Speaking at Walmart’s Converge event, PhonePe Founder and Chief Executive Officer Sameer Nigam and Founder and Chief Technology Officer Rahul Chari laid down the fintech’s plans over the next few years.

“For financial services, we got to go early-stage on how we approach it. Secondly, have a team looking at innovation and documentation for merchants. We have 21 million merchants who need financial services. They can become agents for distributing other products,” Nigam said.

Chari added, “We have the sole consumer strategy - send money, spend money, manage money and grow money. Send and spend is all that we have actually achieved so far, that habit has been set. Now, users who have adapted to the platform are ready to manage and grow their money.”

However, the fintech will not lose sight of the opportunity in the payments space and most of the existing leadership will be focused on taking that vertical forward.


Nigam added, “In the next five years, what got us here won’t take us there. We want to get to 800-900 million people in the next 8-10 years. Whenever the market gets to them, we want to be there.”

With 80 percent of the platform’s users coming from Tier-II cities and beyond, the company is cognizant of building services that enable widespread adoption across its customer base. Chari said that the aim is to make products simpler for Tier II & III customers.

“Our non-metro customers may be coming on the platform for the first time through content. But the next step ends up being payments before they move on to high-value purchases or e-commerce. So, our responsibility is to catch this wave early,” he explained.

“We have about 20 million merchants, 16 million of them are Tier II and beyond. Earlier, people had to travel more to pay bills, they were sending money to villages and small towns, all of that is now happening on a phone. Four years ago, everything changed in India, we call it the Jio effect. Smartphones with cheap data have meant that all basic services have shifted to the phone. What we are proudest of is that we played a large role in democratizing payments-based transactions,” Nigam added.

Over the past many years, Nigam said that his biggest learning has been to view the business from a lens of how it impacts society, rather than competing with the rest of the ecosystem.

“In your 20s when you are just out of college, you are conditioned to compete. The one big learning was you are touching people's real money which, perhaps, is the most precious thing outside of the family for people. So, we decided to take a much more thoughtful and slow approach,” he said.

The company will continue to collaborate with other players in the payments and financial ecosystem and not compete for the sake of competing, Nigam explained.

Disclosure: Moneycontrol is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.​
Priyanka Iyer
first published: Aug 26, 2021 01:46 pm
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