Mobikwik: Online wallet service firm eyes 100m users by ’15

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For most people, starting a new venture is about breaking free from the shackles of a job and enjoying the rush of creating something from scratch.

It wasn’t any different for 32 year old Bipin Preet Singh, co-founder, Mobikwik, an IIT-Delhi graduate who had worked as a hardware architect with Intel, Nvidia and Freescale Semiconductors.

When he decided to do more with himself he was shocked at the fact that a decent MBA degree was priced at Rs 20 lakh. Singh decided that taking the entrepreneurial plunge with that same amount of money was a better idea and that is how Mobikwik, an online mobile recharge service provider was born in 2009. Today Mobikwik has evolved into a digital wallet service with a turnover of close to Rs 100 crore.

Have you ever been plagued with credit transaction decline message as you tried to make an important online payment? If you agree that these error messages seem to pop up even more frequently on mobile platforms, this story may just offer the quick solution you are looking for.

Pick up an IIT graduate and platform architect working with Freescale Semiconductor and throw in an employee of PayPal in the US and you get yourself the founders of India’s fastest growing mobile wallet company.

Founded in 2009 by 32 year old Bipin Preet Singh, who was later joined by Upasana Taku, co-founder, Mobikwik is a mobile wallet player that simplifies all sorts of payments.

Powered by money added to a digital wallet, users can make payments at click of a button for mobile phone recharges, postpaid mobile bills, direct-to-home (DTH) data cards, broadband, landline phones, electricity, gas and even insurance payments.

Singh says, “We have a mobile application as well as a desktop application. Using this application you can add funds to a prepaid wallet. You can add funds using a credit card, debit card or any of the internet banking or even cash. Once you have added funds, you can use that amount. If you have added Rs 5000 to your prepaid wallet, you can use it to make any payments within the app using SMS by making a call or going online.”

In terms of revenue generation, team Mobikwik seems to be going right. An initial capital of Rs 1 crore, has transformed into a turnover of Rs 100 crore for their mobile wallet business. They have been clocking a 30 percent month on month growth and is not surprising, given that the size of the mobile market in India is almost 8 times the size of the internet space.

Singh and Taku believe that it was a no brainier to tap into a potential customer base of 954 million Indians and growing.

Taku says, “We decided a long time ago that we will focus on mobile. Then we decided what can be done to make the experience simpler. It should be like a zippy transaction in one second, in one click you are done with whatever you want to do, whether it is to pay your Tata Sky bill or your home landline bill or your postpaid/prepaid mobile phone bill. So, we had to find those use cases. There is a plethora of use cases you could go after, like people want to buy stuff, they want to book train tickets. We had to choose the use cases which would appeal to our user.”

There is the time tested strategy of offers to draw in subscribers. Mobikwik users get exclusive offers on travel, shopping, food and beverage merchants like Domino’s, Café Coffee Day, Makemytrip, and Jabong,com.

Mobikwik currently boasts of over 1.5 million customers and is adding 200 thousand users every month, with a target to touch 5 million wallet users by the end of this year. Its presence across mobile operating platforms including IOS, Java and their biggest crowd puller Android is highly influential.

With 400 thousand downloads on this platform today, Android accounts for half of the ventures revenue. Charging a fee of 3-7 per transaction, Mobikwik sees 30000 transactions daily. Singh tells where they stand against the big boys.

Singh says, “One of the competitors is Airtel which launched a product called Airtel Money. However, it is focused on a completely different market which is the domestic remittances. Then you have PayPal which is huge internationally. However, they had issues with the regulation in the past. They are still trying to figure out if India is a big enough market. Meanwhile, we have done our own innovation and are confident that our users will keep on taking it forward. We will continue creating a big brand and a big consumer base before the likes of PayPal even entered the country in a big way.”

After the success of their mobile wallet Singh and Taku are drawing up a game plan for expansion. They want to expand their team of 34 to 100 and rope in a 100 million users by 2015.

Team Mobikwik is presently working on introducing new services like movie ticket booking and even ordering food on the go as well as launching India’s first peer-to-peer money transfer service on the mobile.

Proud to be a bootstrapped venture, Singh and Taku think the time has come to find external funding to fuel their dreams.

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