Mobikwik’s office has been in a frenzy ever since the Government’s announcement of demonetization. The brand is making big changes, both to its organizational structure and its offerings. Akash Gupta, Vice-President, Marketing, Mobikwik gives us an overview of all that is happening at Mobikwik
By Samarpita Banerjee
Q] Demonetization has been a blessing in disguise for e-wallets? What are the kinds of changes happening post the move?
A lot of changes are happening, and all of it is big scale. We are ramping ourselves up big time. We have always been a very lean company in terms of execution and showing every person to give the best output, but looking at the scale of operations that we are talking, we are quickly ramping up our resources to at least become double the size of what we are so that we are able to effectively handle the current situation and scale. Secondly, we are seeing a huge traction on users organically coming and trying our app and website. There is a huge interest in customers to try and stick to wallets. Thirdly, we are seeing a big traction coming in from the merchants. We had never imagined that so many dhabas, chai wallahs and so many mom and pop’ stores would lap up the opportunity to go digital. That’s another big focus area. We have appointed a surgical team so that we can capture the big cities. We are targeting almost 40-45 cities currently, from metros to Tier II and Tier III towns where we feel that both customers and merchants need us. We are doing a lot of intervention on the product side because being a technology company we are much ahead of banks. Being a Fintech start-up, we know we can be the best choice for users because we are ahead on technology. That’s why we have recently launched a new platform which is the lightest wallet app in the world, less than 800 KBs and a user can do everything on it. Any merchant can give a missed call and can become digital. We also have launched a big brand campaign which talks about MobiKwik being ‘desh ka wallet’. We want to tell consumers that in case there is any problem, ‘MobiKwik hai na’. We are also working on a lot of BTL and ATL.
Q] Quite a few e-wallets have been aggressively advertising, post demonetization. Mobikwik chose to stay silent. Was that a conscious decision?
We have always been very cautious about the way we market ourselves. We value every buck spent and that’s why we watched the opportunity for a day after the move. We were also working on the right communication, which is very important in such cases. Many wallets came up with ads, just to take a space on the next day, but then their communication was hazy and users couldn’t understand the message. We knew that we wanted to talk to people walking on the streets and not the ones sitting in cars because that guy sitting in the car with a good phone would still be able to use his card. But here, I want to talk to the person who has a problem of change and is struggling with smaller payments at local shops and restaurants. We were getting our communication right. We have done a couple of jackets in the national dailies. We have launched our radio communication which is very apt and talking to users. We have come up with easy-to-understand like ‘mobile number do, paise lo’, so that we can talk to people who don’t understand technology much, but now with our communication are coming on to our platform.
Q] Why did you choose to stay away from TV?
There was a specific reason why we wanted to stay away from TV at this point in time. TV is cluttered. Also, an insight that came out of a few of our studies is that our target audience is more on radio, because either they are in their shops or at work. We thought radio would help us reach out in a better way. So, we have fixed radio spots running at around 40-45 cities radio. We also depended on print because that too is very regional. We wanted to talk to people who are in the masses, and that’s why we picked Radio and Print as our primary mix and we are strong on both the mediums.
Q] Have your numbers increased drastically after the move?
In the last three to four years, we had touched around 32 million users but in the days after demonetization, we have crossed 42 million. So, that’s the speed of growth that we are seeing. Our numbers of new users are almost 5-6x now, and we are still scaling up because I see a lot of potential. We have a lot more to do in terms of our communication and in terms of hitting more regions. Also, what came as a pleasant surprise was the number of new merchants coming in and accepting payments.
Q] Was the launch of MobiKwik Lite a result of demonetization or was in the plan previously?
The launch was a result of demonetization. We had always wanted to do something for the regional market and would have eventually launched, probably a bit later. Demonetization just sped up the process. We worked 24 hours for three days and launched the app.
Q] With the segment being so cluttered, how do you ensure MobiKwik is able to stand out?
One thing that gives MobiKwik an edge is the simplicity and ease of usage of our app. I have myself used many other apps but the way the transaction is done, money added and sent, it’s not very self-intuitive. Our app is very simple and intuitive which is a feedback we got from many users. We will continue to be simple and will be focused on digital payments, which is our forte. If you compare one app versus other, our transaction and success rates are much ahead of many others, even than credit cards. So that is what we have seen across all our merchants and they value our partnership because of our great success rates, and we would continue to have a strong backbone of technology and ensure that we stay up on being simple, easy to use and on giving a 99.9% of success rate, if not 100%.
Q] What are the number of transactions you are seeing every month?
On a normal day, we are seeing about 2.5 to 3x numbers when it comes to transactions. And interestingly, a lot of these transactions are coming in from small setups like dairy booths or dhabas which is something that never happened before.
Q] Rural India is a huge, untapped territory. What are you doing to target that audience?
One special thing that we have already done is the lite app. One of the biggest challenges in rural area is that phones don’t have a lot of memory. And we understood from users that the biggest problem was data reach and internet. While internet is today present, the problem always was, how much data would the app consume. So that’s the reason the lite app came into the picture. The other thing for rural was language, which was a big barrier. So now we will soon be launching in Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. We are already working on that. We will also be hosting a lot of offline camps, in association with government or private bodies or NGOs, where we will try to go deeper into the rural areas and will educate them how to move from cash to cashless using their mobile phones.
Q] Recently, Paytm said that they are thinking of launching a payment bank. Are you also considering doing something similar?
Not right now. We think that the current quantum of wallets is huge. And it’s a good measure for any consumer to take in, to become digital. The wallet limit is already going up to Rs 20,000 for every user which is a good measure and we don’t want to dilute our energies into anything else than this as of now.
Q] Getting consumers on board was probably the easier bit and getting more merchants on board is probably the more difficult part. How many merchants have come on board?
We had about 1.2 lakh merchants and the number has now almost doubled in the days post demonetization. And the growth process is on.
Q] Do you think there is a chance of banks becoming redundant in the future?
If you want very personal interactions, banks will remain there. But if you want to do fast transactions, I would e-wallets is the way to go. And I would say that banks would in some way be redundant, with all due respect to what banks do. The world is mushrooming and hugely wanting easy, simpler technology base where Fintech startups like ours are helping consumers day in and day out. So, I would say watch out.
Q] Where do you want to see MobiKwik two years from now?
In the next six months, we have to double ourselves. We have to grow to almost 80-100 million users. We have to capture the nation’s heartbeat quickly. And two years from now, I think we would be a dominant player in the payment space. We will be present in every Indian’s smartphone and also try to reach every shop and nook and corner of the country.
Q] What is your marketing strategy going to be for the next few years?
Our plan is to reach out to 100 cities and even beyond that, we will start looking at pin-code wise penetration. After a few months we will have to go down to the level of every pin code, every nook and corner that we are present in.
Q] What is your media mix currently?
Currently, we invest about 30% on print, 40% on radio, and the remaining 30% on digital.