Narendra Modi distributed 5100 E-Rickshaws under the Mudra Yojna Scheme in Noida today at an event organised by the Bhartiya Micro Credit.
The e-rickshaws were received by existing rickshaw owners as well as women and transgender recipients.
Under this program, nearly 5100 e-rickshaws are slotted for distribution in the Delhi-NCR area, including Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad. Customers will subsequently be able to book e-rickshaws through the Ola mobile app and make online payment via Freecharge that has been integrated into this scheme.
As part of this scheme, Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC) will also set up charging stations (for charging the e-rickshaw batteries) for every 50 E-Rickshaws and service centres (for maintenance of e-rickshaws and batteries) will also be set up for every 250 E-Rickshaws.
The training of the e-rickshaw drivers has been done under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. Under this scheme beneficiaries including 150 women drivers have been provided training.
Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-founder and CEO, Ola said, “Economic growth, rapid urbanization and environmental concerns are driving the need for innovative mobility solutions across the country. The transportation needs of users in smaller towns and sustainable alternatives for cycle rickshaws will be solved with the introduction of Ola e-rickshaws, which are affordable, environment friendly and convenient. We believe this will improve the lives of countless beneficiaries over time impacting the livelihoods of driver entrepreneurs and taking us closer to our mission of mobility for a billion people.”
Mobile commerce platform FreeCharge has partnered with Bhartiya Micro Credit (BMC), an NGO focused on providing aid to low-income individuals, to enable E-rickshaw drivers to register themselves as merchants on FreeCharge’s recently launched Chat-n-Pay platform to accept digital payments.
FreeCharge will be setting up training for all these drivers via BMC to help them understand how to use FreeCharge app and accept payments. FreeCharge will also create an exclusive incentive plan for all the E-rickshaw drivers to encourage them to use digital payments to pay for services like mobile recharges, electricity bill payments etc.
Talking about the partnership, Vijay Pandey, Managing Director, Bhartiya Micro Credit said, “the idea is to facilitate the upgradation of pedal rickshaw pullers into E-rickshaw owners and help create threefold increment in their income. Credit for all these facilities is being provided under Mudra Scheme. The progression to E-rickshaw from pedal rickshaw will also help contribute towards achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.”
The partnership will be announced at the launch of Stand up India scheme in Noida, where BMC will distribute 5,100 E-rickshaws as part of their on-going initiative.
“This partnership will strengthen our goal of creating a less cash society and further give a boost to our endeavour to make digital payments accessible to all in the swiftest and secure manner. Our Chat-n-Pay service has opened opportunities for small merchants from unorganised sectors to accept payments digitally with no investment,” said Govind Rajan, Chief Operating Officer, FreeCharge.
Mobile commerce platform FreeCharge has partnered with online payment gateway CCAvenue to enable its customers, gain access to over one lakh online merchants across sectors like hospitality, retail and education.
Talking about the partnership, FreeCharge CEO Govind Rajan commented that they “want to make FreeCharge wallet ubiquitous in both the online and offline space by creating an ecosystem of partnership. With CCAvenue, we will further strengthen our partner ecosystem and offer our customers a wider assortment of online merchants”.
“CCAvenue operates on a simple tenet, ‘more options lead to more businesses and has always remained neutral by associating with third party wallets and not limited its services to a captive payment wallet of its own. This association would enable FreeCharge as a payment option for our 100000+ e-merchants, and FreeCharge’s aggressive marketing strategies would greatly benefit our merchants,” said Vishwas Patel, Chief Executive Officer, Avenues Group.
Earlier this month, FreeCharge introduced a new feature called ‘Chat and Pay’, which enables Person-to-Person (P2P) and Person-to-Merchant (P2M) interfaces for Digital Payments.
FreeCharge directly competes with payment e-wallets like Alibaba-backed Paytm, and Flipkart’s recently launched Flipkart Money. CCAvenue offers real-time, multi-currency payment solutions to businesses in hospitality, education, online retail and other major industry verticals.
With the Modi led Government, ‘digital’ has been abuzz across all the corners of the country. In this entire process of making everything digital, we may have missed the significance of the word and the process of ‘digital transactions’.
In India overall time spent on mobile payment apps has increased by nearly 1.5x, with users spending an hour and a half on mobile payment apps every month.
Interestingly, mobile payment apps are 1.2x more popular among men than women and men are 2x more engaged with these apps than women.
What’s Driving Mobile Wallets?
According to U.K-based Juniper Research, more than one in three mobile wallets and over 50% in developed markets, will feature contactless payment by 2018. With the proliferation of mobile payment apps, the Indian smartphone user has increasingly begun to go cashless. The popularity of such apps has risen from over one-in-five active users last year to over one in every two users this year.
With a small targeted market right now for digital transactions and many players plunging into it with various business models, it has only asserted on the ample opportunities and scope lying ahead in the future.
An analysis of real time metered smartphone usage data with Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights reveals how Indian consumers are using mobile payment apps:
Alibaba backed Paytm leads the market followed by Freecharge which is owned by Snapdeal.
According to data with Nielsen Informate Mobile Insights, the most popular mobile payment apps in terms of time spent, are those that provide services over and above pure payment like mobile recharging, ability to book movie tickets, shopping and so on.
Highlighting the existing scenario, Nitin Misra, VP of Product, Paytm, says m-wallet transactions have crossed the mobile banking transactions which shows the growing preference.
“Paytm with 120mn wallets has seen tremendous growth in the past 12 months. We currently clock around 60-65 million transactions monthly. Interestingly, 80% of the transactions are from mobile devices and 50-55% transactions are from metros while the rest is from non-metros,” he added.
“But only 5% of transactions is online, 95% is still in cash. And that is our biggest competitor.”
Paytm plans to increase its PoS presence by 2-3X by end of this year.
Freecharge’s Chief Operating Officer, Govind Rajan, said, “The acquisition by Snapdeal led us to focus on wallet business. And as we already had 6-7 million recharge users and an overall user base of more that 20 million, expanding to wallet was easy.”
“In wallet business you need to have partnerships and in the next 4 months we will have a significant reach and we plan to complete 7 million transactions by end of this year.”
Is Cashback Sustainable?
Oxigen believes that unlike other players in market, where cashback is a massive hit, they believe in bringing loyalty to the brand.
“Cash back in not a way to do transactions. Industry is going through distortion where cashback is the reason for having wallet, which is wrong reason. Cashback is not sustainable,” says, Sunil Kulkarni, MD, Oxigen.
Industry experts say the key to rapid acceleration of mobile payment app adoption is to make the payment process simple for the consumer. The less information the consumer has to manually enter, the better the adoption rate.
According to Nitin Gupta, CEO, PayU, “Businesses are built on Fundamentals. If your business is not based on Fundamentals, it won’t work. Working on cashback and discounting is delaying your problem, because you will need to solve the problem of why a user is using a wallet. Today, uber has forced users to use Paytm, if tomorrow they bring any change then it won’t work.”
He further added, “We have three value props: 1) Convenience, 2) Reliability: If any “gadbad”, reliability is 100% 3) Rewards: Sustainable for me. How long will Cashback system?”
“In POS systems we are bringing a game changing stuff and we’ll give something only in April. POS is under-penetrated, cannot afford machines. It’s a different problem to solve,” he added.
Bipin Preet Singh, CEO and co founder of MobiKwik, commenting on the average Ticket size for the wallet payment,said, “In the last 3 months, the average spend on MobiKwik has grown from Rs 500 to around Rs 1000. Currently most wallets have a monthly transaction limit of Rs 10,000. But with the introduction of KYC norms, many users are now increasing their wallet limit to Rs 100,000 and starting to make higher spends every month.”
Highlighting the drawback of cashback model, he said, “Since we are in the business of money and give away a lot of incentives in the form of cashbacks, we do come across users who try to game the system. In the past, we have seen users creating several accounts on our system to claim cashbacks multiple times. We introduced card checks and device id checks as a counter measure and it worked.”
Ashutosh Upadhyay from Udio which in Croatia means ‘share’, believes that other than commercial transactions, a wallet should also address user behavior around peer-to-peer transactions where one needs to share the bill or request or send the money to someone.
Differentiating Udio’s business model, he says, “If user chooses wallet over your credit card only because of cashback, you have clearly lost the game. Currently in the wallet marketplace, the consumers are being driven only by cashback and not experience but we clearly want to avoid the routes of heavy cashbacks.”
With different perspectives and different business models, it will be interesting to see who survives the competition in the consolidation phase. The problem will crop up when the venture capitalist fundings starts drying and companies will need to sustain themselves and turn to profits.
Hope it grows beyond just a nutshell experience and offers a great personal experience. For now just lets order food, watch movie, hail taxis and get a lot of cashbacks till they work!
FreeCharge has partnered with Ezetap, allowing the entire base of FreeCharge users to immediately start using their wallets to make payments at thousands of Ezetap service points consisting of small and mid-sized retailers across India.
Ezetap’s Universal Mobile Wallet Acceptance is India’s first universal solution that allows merchants to accept customer payments from any mobile wallet through their existing Ezetap mobile point of sale (mPoS) application.
“Our aim is to create the ecosystem for digital payments and help consumers move from cash to digital. We are excited to announce this strategic partnership with Ezetap which will further enable millions of FreeCharge customers to transact at over 40,000 POS terminals in the swiftest and safest manner possible. FreeCharge believes partnerships are critical to scale acceptance and build habit of digital payments.” [Govind Rajan, Chief Operating Officer FreeCharge]
Today, customers are reluctant to use any medium other than cash for small ticket transactions due to the friction involved in the payment experience. This partnership eliminates friction by facilitating payments with just a few clicks in a secure payment method. Enabling wallet payments at retail merchants will enable the wallet consumers to use FreeCharge both not just online but at over 40000 offline points too.
FreeCharge has launched a new virtual card ‘FreeCharge Go’.
FreeCharge Go is linked with FreeCharge wallet and will make the wallet universally accepted across all online merchants in India. FreeCharge will soon be available for payments at offline stores as well in coming months.
Launched in association with YES Bank, ‘FreeCharge Go’ is powered by MasterCard. The card can be activated in just a few seconds, said the company.
Govind Rajan, Chief Operating Officer, FreeCharge said,“FreeCharge Wallet is the fastest growing wallet in the country. We are insanely focused on UI – 0ver 99% of our transactions are completed in less than 10 seconds. As a result we have amongst the stickiest cohort – with over 72% consumers being repeat consumers.”
Post activation, FreeCharge users will be able to see a 16 digit MasterCard number with an associated CVV in their FreeCharge account. The card details are only accessible after entering security MPIN every time the customer has to view the card details to protect customer information. In addition, every transaction using the card needs to be verified by an OTP which is sent to the registered mobile number.
FreeCharge has announced the appointment of Anshul Kheterpal as the Chief Financial Officer. In his new role, Anshul will help craft strategies for the payments business at FreeCharge and Snapdeal and closely work with the senior leadership teams to strengthen the digital payments business.
Anshul has over 8 years of work experience across Finance, Strategy, Operations and Treasury & diversified and in-depth experience across Mobile Commerce, Digital Payments and Telecom Sector. Prior to his appointment at FreeCharge, Anshul was CFO and Principal Officer for Airtel Money.
Kunal Shah, CEO and co-founder, FreeCharge said, “With FreeCharge’s aim to be the digital OS for the payments business in India, Anshul joining us will further strengthen our senior leadership team. With his years of experience in managing the complex business of payments coupled with his rich industry knowledge he will help build the most innovative digital payments platform for our customers.”
Anshul Kheterpal said, “I am excited to join FreeCharge at a time when the payments industry is abuzz with new ways of creating digital transaction processes for customers. The excitement and commitment at FreeCharge to create industry leading products is almost infectious and I am looking forward to working with the team here to grow the digital payments business.”
FreeCharge claims that FreeCharge Wallet crossed over 10 million users within 60 days of customer launch and is on an aggressive growth journey to reach 35 million wallets by March 2016. FreeCharge plans to expand into a number of new payments services in the next few months with new merchant products.
FreeCharge has announced that the company will adopt Government’s Aadhar UID card as the primary KYC tool for opening and upgrading wallets.
Consumers who enrol for a FreeCharge wallet with Aadhaar authentication can have their balance limit enhanced from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 Lakh. Also, there will be no monetary limit on transactions.
“We are innovating to bring new models of go to market – for instance doorstep authentication – where customers can request for an agent to come to their home for a doorstep biometric authentication. Within a week we hit the 1million mark and now leveraging Aadhar enabled KYC gives us access to the pool of over 900 million KYC ready consumers,” says Govind Rajan, Chief Operating Officer, FreeCharge.
Freecharge has been acquired by Snapdeal, making it India’s biggest M&A deal in Internet space.
Freecharge has had interesting beginnings and importantly, a lot of interesting stories while they built the rocketship. As an outsider but a keen observer, here are some of the milestones (in my opinion) that led to Freecharge’s growth story.
Naman wrote a guest piece on NextBigWhat (at that time, Pluggd.in). Kunal shah contacted him immediately (liked his insights around the recharge business model). Naman joined him as employee#1. The name ‘Freecharge’ was coined after that. Naman was leading the initial product management+feature decisions + development part (with only 1 engineer).
In short, there was no serious tech that was built – everything was based on ‘jugaad’. In fact, a lot of initial features were built on community feedback over Pluggd.in.
2. Hustle. Hustle.
This is a well known story of Freecharge. If you have been to the summer edition of UnPluggd conference (2014), you know what was shared.
Before the term ‘growth hacking’ became a buzzword, Freecharge growthhacked and hustled their way to glory.
The team created a *fake* Facebook profile of an extremely good looking girl who would share all the usual girly stuff on her page. In a very short span, she became super popular (is that a surprise?) and the GTM strategy was based on using the Facebook profile to drive traffic to Freecharge.
Did it work?
Watch this interesting talk by Kunal Shah on human behavior and tech startups at NextBigWhat’s conference.
3. Momentum and Deap Ubhi
Momentum is an extremely good thing. Very few get it and the smarter founders ride on it. Those who fail to, they need to rework on building the momentum (again!).
One of smartest decision Freecharge made was to bring in Deap Ubhi (ex-Burrp cofounder) and have him lead technology + product.
That turned out to be their biggest differentiator and defined the next growth strategy (and also the UX strategy).
I won’t be wrong to say that Deap seeded a lot of product and design thinking inside Freecharge.
4. Bringing Alok Goel As CEO
Being a CEO is more about ‘E’ (Execution) and less about C.
Luckily, Kunal Shah knows (I guess?) his shortcomings and strength. He is a great ideator – and needed somebody who can take care of execution. And Alok fits in beautifully well.
At different stages of the company, you need different skill sets in the leadership team. Luckily, Freecharge understood this at the right time and Alok’s mobile+Google experience helped them build the rocketship.
5. The Exit Timing?
Well, I guess that Freecharge hit its innovation limits (of being a freecharge/recharge company) and needed to do something more ballsy.
That’d need much more ammunition and ecosystem support – which Snapdeal will provide. Frankly speaking, Freecharge’s nearest competitors Paytm and Mobikwik are taking on much bigger play with payment tech and aren’t limiting themselves to just a recharge business.
Maybe, Freecharge will do that at a bigger scale. Maybe, they will aim to be the largest app install marketing business in India (why aren’t they doing it??). But what’er they do, the next disruption is NOT on recharge business model anymore.
Startup Lessons From Freecharge?
Now, that’s the boring part – but if you look at it, apart from hustling, Kunal Shah ended up making smart decisions and that helped him grow the business (even at a cost of giving away ownership/equity/control).
After all, a few percentage of a $400mn+ business is better than 100% of shit.
Very few founders do that. Most of them are stuck in ‘me me me’ mantra and Kunal knew his strength/weakness. He steered the company around his strength (the unique business model) and built a team that compensated for his weakness.
In the end, Hustlers do win.
E-commerce marketplace Snapdeal has acquired mobile transaction platform Freecharge to boost its presence in the booming Indian mobile commerce space.
While the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, earlier reports have valued it at around $450 million in both cash and stock.
Freecharge registers transactions worth more than $1 million on its platform daily, 85% of which is done on mobile.
The company had raised $80 million in Series C led by Valiant Capital and Tybourne Capital in February this year.
Freecharge is the latest in the line of acquisitions made by Snapdeal, which is looking to bolster its product offering and technology to take on Flipkart and Amazon.in.
Post acquisition, Freecharge will continue functioning as an independent platform, with Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bhal claiming that Snapdeal+Freecharge is now the largest mobile commerce player in India.
Snapdeal is in talks to acquire Freecharge for $450mn, making it (if at all it happens) India’s largest online consumer deal. What’s the synergy between Freecharge and Snapdeal?
Well, Freecharge which recently raised $80mn in Series C is betting big on mobile (couponing) space and Freecharge will provide Snapdeal access to consumers (and their credit cards) and brands.
In another news, Snapdeal is raising another $700mn from Foxconn and is also in talks to acquire ad network, Komli (after Flipkart acquired Adiquity).
FreeCharge has launched “speak to recharge” feature on its Windows Mobile App.
With this new feature, users can create a “Voice Card” and associate it with any command (e.g. “FreeCharge Mom”). Once the voice card is created, users can just speak this voice command into the windows mobile phone and get recharge done without any other action.
Here is how it works.
Freecharge has acquired Preburn, a stealth mode start-up, founded by Mohit Mittal, Manikanta Nikhil and Vijaysimha Reddy.
Preburn is an offline app store designed for Rapid User Acquisition, offering app publishers a large pool of users and hence, faster attainment of critical mass. Apps of different genres are installed on users’ devices at the time of purchase from retail stores. The Delhi based startup aspires to facilitate smooth on-boarding for new smartphone users. The company claims to have presence in 152 stores in 4 cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai).
“The founders share our vision around discovery of mobile apps. Freecharge’s resources and expertise would give them speed of execution and would help serve a wider user base across the country. This is in line with our last acquisition of Wishberg, we have invested in bringing great minds on board with Preburn which is a team of five IITians.
The technology and innovative approach of Preburn would not be possible without their outstanding team. We’re hoping to get good ideas out of the garage and into the market, where they belong. We will soon be launching the product” [Alok Goel, CEO of Freecharge]