With new partners like Google Duo, Airtel and ICICI, and newly added features, Truecaller has taken a step forward to revamp its communication game. Kari Krishnamurthy, Brand & Strategy Head at Truecaller, talks about the strategic associations
By Neeta Nair
Truecaller, a successful caller ID and dialler app, has recently added a plethora of services to its platform aimed at solidifying its identity as a complete communication app. This comes a few weeks after San Francisco based mobile app data and insights company, App Annie called Truecaller India’s third most used app on Android phones. The company has tied up with Airtel to bring caller ID to even non-data users, has partnered with Google Duo to integrate video calling on its platform and will also be seen facilitating a mobile payment service by associating with ICICI Bank. This is in addition to a revamp of its logo and a new brand proposition of ‘Stay Ahead.’ For a company which had very recently opened its platform to advertisers, these new additions will go a long way in attracting more brands to the app. We find out more from Kari Krishnamurthy, Brand & Strategy Head at Truecaller, who leads Truecaller’s global brand initiative and communication strategy.
Q] From a model which wouldn’t function without Internet to including even the non-data users in the ambit of your service, how did the tie-up with Airtel come about?
It has been a 24-month project with Airtel. Despite the Digital revolution, a big percentage of the population is still untouched by a smartphone or a data platform. While Truecaller was largely an operating system-agnostic app, we were not spectrum agnostic, when I say spectrum I mean data points. So we asked ourselves why should Truecaller not work on a 2G platform? After discussion, we realized that we can make that and more happen using a network pattern, through a simple handshake with a telecom provider. And that’s where the Airtel partnership came in for which I must give due credit to Raj Pudipeddi, Director – Consumer Business & Chief Marketing Officer. It has taken us two years to ensure that feature phone users get an experience similar to that of a smartphone user. All you need to do now is pay a minimum subscription fee and the caller ID will appear on your phone as a flash SMS before the call.
Q] In course of time, will you be extending this service to networks other than Airtel?
Over a period of time we will definitely be looking at other opportunities, but at this moment it’s a very close relationship with Airtel because of the combined effort we have put in.
Q] You have also integrated Google Duo video calling option on Truecaller. Does one need a basic minimum of 3G or 4G service to use it, like some of the other popular calling apps?
This partnership resonates with our need to become a complete communication platform. For people using our app as a dialler, it was a natural progression. Google, who are pioneers in the android space, were keen on the integration too. There is a huge market for video calls in India, Brazil and the Middle East. Google is trying to ensure that the video call can be made on very low bandwidth, even basic 2G data. The broader understanding is that all users, irrespective of the bandwidth they use, get a decent experience through Truecaller.
Q] How soon will these services start?
Airtel is already offering caller ID for non-data users on our platform in a few markets, and the national rollout will take place in the next couple of weeks. Some more testing is needed on the Google Duo integration, but we expect it to be in place in the next five-six weeks.
Q] Tell us about the Truecaller- ICICI Bank partnership and who all can access the mobile payment service -- anyone who has a Truecaller app or only those who have an ICICI account?
Any Truecaller app user, including non-ICICI Bank customers can link their bank account of any bank (participating in UPI) to create a UPI ID and instantly make payments in a safe and secure manner. ICICI Bank is the first bank globally to partner with Truecaller in our maiden foray into the financial payments services space.
Q] The payment space in India is already crowded with players like Paytm, Airtel, Mobikwik, etc; who do you see as your biggest competitor?
We consider ourselves as our biggest competitor! We are not looking at any of these players as a challenger because they are a wallet, and we are an enabler, so we work in different spaces. And the benefit for the consumer is that they are transacting with ICICI Bank, which is one of the largest private sector banks in the country. We have more than 150 million users in India while ICICI has many more, even in Tier II and Tier III cities. So the kind of combined reach we have definitely gives us an advantage. I would not comment on whether it would be safer for the consumer to transact via Truecaller than through Mobikwik or any other platform, but because of the strict guidelines followed by ICICI, we can ensure that as a user, you can transfer money to someone and stop worrying about it.
Q] Apart from the product transformation, you have also redesigned your logo with the brand proposition of ‘Stay Ahead’.
When you start a journey, it is easy to roll by just keeping a descriptive name for the brand. But when you start growing as a company, you need to add personality to the brand which becomes a big challenge. We kept on adding features in the app like dialler, spam blocker, caller ID, flash messaging, etc., and have now even added three partners. Tomorrow, we might venture into new things. So we wanted to show that we are a trustworthy brand which is also attempting to strengthen its image as a complete communication platform. Thus the tagline ‘Stay ahead.’
Q] Last year you also decided to open your platform to advertisers, how did that move work for the brand?
Truecaller’s ad platform has been used by some of the biggest advertisers – ranging from top brands like Nestle, Airtel, Flipkart, Myntra, Maruti, Oppo and many more. Similarly Jabong, one of the leading online fashion brands, wanted to expand its in-app advertising reach and visibility with users via Truecaller. The campaign successfully created high visibility among the affluent smartphone users with data connectivity during Sale Period for Jabong, giving 133 million Impressions, 2,47,000 Clicks and 0.19% CTR on smartphones in only one day.