Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Delighted to know that in a span of 10 days there have been over 10 million downloads of the BHIM App.”
BHIM is the Adhaar-based mobile wallet, named after the principal architect of the Indian constitution Bhim Rao Ambedkar, in order to make digital transactions easier and safer for merchants.
The government-backed wallet might have had a good start, but it would need a lot more than Modi’s marketing muscle to take it from here.
While BHIM rivals think that it is nice to have competition, as it increase the awareness of wallets, especially as Modi is campaigning for it, but its success will depend on many other factors.
“NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) is a government organisation. Who is going to give the budget to go after millions of merchants and consumers, what happens if there is a consumer complain, and who will service take care of customer service,” asked Upasana Taku, co-founder of MobiKwik, the country’s second largest mobile wallet, after Paytm.
MobiKwik has nearly 50 million downloads, and its biggest rival Paytm has 160 million.
BHIM’s initial success, a CEO of a consultancy firm said, is based on curiosity. “One needs to have the mindset of a startup, and needs venture capital money like Paytm or MobiKwik has to grow big,” he said.
Taku added that MobiKwik is not afraid of BHIM, and her company will continue to do things as planned, one of which is to raise more funds.
“Earlier, we were well funded for two years. That will get over in a year’s time. We are in the process of raising another round of fund,” Taku said.
Most of the money, Taku said, is going into adding more merchants. It already has a million of them (same as Paytm).
According to data from the Reserve Bank of India, there was 47% growth to 87 million in active mobile wallet users in December. In January, the number is expected to surge further.
Taku also hinted that the wallet race is between two players -- Paytm and MobiKwik. She did not mention about SBI Buddy, State Bank of India’s mobile wallet. On Snapdeal-owned Freecharge she said, “They are far behind, and are of no material value.”
Meanwhile, BHIM continues to be patronised by Modi. It will be interoperable with other Unified Payment Interface (UPI) applications, and bank accounts. During its launch, Modi said, “It is not necessary to have the internet for this app. In the next two weeks, one more work is being done, which will increase the power of BHIM so much that you would be able to withdraw money even with your fingerprints.”